I have now been to Catalina Island a couple of times and in those times I feel that I have been able to see pretty much the whole Island. I hope to give you some good information for when you decide to head out there which, I would highly recommend to anyone.
There are only two ways you can get to the Island, by boat, or air. The first time I went, I flew. I am lucky enough to have a girlfriend who’s Dad has his pilot’s license and a nice little Sesna, and He will use any excuse to take out. The airport on Catalina is called The Airport in the Sky, and right fully so. It is located on one of the highest if not the highest
peak on the island. From my recollection if you are not signed up for their flyers club you it will cost you about $25 just to land. Which isn’t too bad at all, but if you are going to keep your plane there for an extended period of time there will be additional fees. The reason I loved flying in is because as you fly in it feels like the scene from the first Jurassic Park when they first fly to the island full of dinosaurs…if you haven’t seen that movie you should rent it just for that part and then go to Catalina. It was an amazing site to see, and gives you a great perspective on what the island really looks like. If you can fly, do it! They also have shuttles that will take you to either Two Harbors or Avalon. Just make sure that you get the times that they come up to the airport because they are limited.
Option number two is boating. I have only taken the Catalina Express
to the island from Long Beach, Ca, but I do know that you can take them from Newport as well and there are a few other companies out of Newport and Los Angeles. From all my research I found that the Catalina Express is your best bet, they have the most times available and the biggest boats. Why does a big boat matter you ask? Well for many of you that get sea sick the bigger the boat, the more stable the ride also, on the Catalina Express from Long Beach they have a mostly full bar with drinks and prices that are barely more then what you would pay at a bar. I would recommend getting a drink and taking it to the top deck of the boat. This is also a good idea if you are one of the sea sick types. The top deck will allow you to keep an eye on the land. Besides that it will provide the best views. You will be able to enjoy the view of the Island as it approaches… beautiful
I love camping, and the times I have been to Catalina I have camped both on the Avalon side and the Two Harbors side. The campgrounds that we stayed at on the Avalon side of Catalina is called Hermit Glutch. When we stayed there it was in the month of November, which is their off season, so the price was better which was nice and it wasn’t crowded at all. There was about five other campers. If I were going to stay at Hermit Glutch again, I would make sure and do it in the off season again because the campsites are very small and there are a ton of them, very close together. To be quite honest if I were to go and stay on the Avalon side again I would most likely stay in a nice B&B. They have a ton of them on the island and they are all pretty nice. Besides if you are going to stay on the Avalon side, chances are you are going to want to check out the city during the day and for its nightlife. It is about a mile walk to and from Hermit Glutch and Avalon. Which isn’t that bad, but if you want to see the city it gets old walking back and forth “time after time”. (Thank you Cindy Lauper)
If you are looking to do the camping thing I would recommend getting dropped off on the Two Harbors side. It is the smaller half of the Island but for camping it’s great. I have stayed at Parson’s Landing campsite. From Two Harbors it is about a 7 mile hike looking back at mainland of California. I made this hike under the stars and on a full moon there is no need for flash lights. Parson’s is on the far north side of the island and, your site is right on the water. When you wake up and open the door to your tent and that sun is rising I don’t know that there is a better place to be. It is also great falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing. While there, instead of going back and forth to the city the camp site is surrounded by trails that will lead you to the top of the several peaks with breath taking views.
Another great site that I was actually able to walk through but not stay at is Little Harbor. Little Harbor is located on the west side of the island and from my understanding provides the most amazing sunsets. That place is next on my list.
Hike, Hike, and do yourself a favor and go on a hike:
My favorite hike hands down was the Garden to the Sky Hike. This hike was truly breathe taking. The trail head starts in the Hermit Glutch campground. It is about a 4 mile hike and depending how intense you want to hike you can either take the switch backs or just head straight up the mountain. We took the straight up the mountain route and the pay off was huge. Once you reach the top of the peak you are on East End Rd. and from there you can see forever. Both sides of the island are visible and you can see mainland California and every single Channel Island there is. When I was on this hike I was with four of my buddies, we worked our asses off to get to the top and when we did there was five minute moment of silence, as we were huffing and puffing after the steep incline we just conquer, each one of use was soaking in this amazing sight. Please do yourself a favor and go on this hike. It to me was the best part of any trip I’ve taken to Catalina.
Avalon the city:
Avalon is a great city, you get that small town feel while feeling like you are in another world because you are on a freakin’ island. Every local I was able to have a conversation with was very friendly and happy to answer any questions I had about the Island. They also make it very easy to get around with great taxi service through out the island, or if you stay at a hotel often times you can get deals on golf carts, and who doesn’t want to ride around an island on a golf cart. I know I do. Also, around Avalon you will find many shops. This side of the island is all about the shops, cute boutiques are all over the place. I found that aspect of the island was a bit more exciting for the females. There are also many bars and restaurants. While on the Avalon side of the island I choose to keep the cost low and my meals and drinks pretty basic. I got great breakfast burritos at Eric’s on the Pier, which ironically enough was located right on The Avalon Pier, go figure. I must say that their burritos were great! I would say if your in a hurry or just don’t want to spend a ton on a meal, you’ll be able to find great fast food type stuff at Eric’s on the Pier, (ie. hot dogs, burritos, burgers, etc.) For the nights I choose to drink my beverages at The Locker Room,
and I loved it. It was located on Summer Ave., and it felt more like a locals place to me, which I love. I don’t know why but it always makes me feel more comfortable when I’m around people that actually live were I am currently located. Everyone was very friendly and the drinks are affordable, gotta love that. After working up an appetite, which as I’m sure you all know automatically happens while consuming beverages, lucky there is a great pizza joint just at the end of the block called Original Antonio’s. They have a walk up window, that is very convenient and they stay open pretty late, sorry, I can’t remember how late. The pizza was good, but it was even better because of the convince how good I was feeling. Back at the Locker Room, they actually let us bring the pizza back in and eat it there because they don’t serve any food. Great atmosphere, if you like the bar kick back type scene.
Bottom line, go to Catalina Island, especially if you live on the west coast of the States. I think the coolness factor of this Island is greatly understated.
Anything you’ve seen in Catalina that I didn’t talk about? Comment, I’d love to know.
the highest if not the highest peak on the