Catalina Island is a neat escape off the coast of Southern California. The majority of the island’s population lives in the city of Avalon. Avalon feels as if you were dropped in a coastal city in Italy. The island is green and mountainous, there are tiny colorful homes built on the hillsides and sailboats dock along the coastline. I visited Catalina about 3 months after moving to California and it was a wonderful little weekend escape!
There are various ferry boat routes that can get you to the island but they are all run by one company so the ferries sell out fast and they can get pricey. The boat ride to the island is just under an hour and it can get quite chilly on the top deck. You should arrive early because the boat boards about 20-30 minutes before departure. The boat ride is very relaxing and I wouldn’t be worried about motion sickness because it is a large ferry. We went out of the port at Long Beach and the boarding area was easy to find and the parking was simple, but not free. In conclusion, book tickets in advance, arrive early for departure and pack a jacket for the ferry ride.
Once on the island, exploring the local boutiques is entertainment in itself. Wear comfortable shoes because the island is very walkable. There is a small beach in Avalon but it isn’t large enough to plan a full beach day around.
There are many other paid activities that I recommend while on the island:
- Renting a golf cart and driving up to various island viewpoints
- Ziplining tour
- Visiting the Botanical Gardens
My favorite part of the day in Catalina was walking through the local shops with gelato in my hand. I also really enjoyed the views from Mt Ada, it is a perfect spot for a photo that encapsulates the beauty of your visit.
Although I loved the environment on Catalina Island, I would recommend only spending one day on the island if you are visiting California. There are so many amazing coastal towns to see in Southern California as well as fun cities like Los Angeles and San Diego.