Just 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles sits Catalina Island, accessible via the Catalina Express ferry – approximately $70.00 return – but free on your birthday. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to meet day trippers and on Mondays and Tuesdays, cruise ship passengers. But it’s well worth staying over for a few days and rentals are available through Catalina Island Vacation Rentals.
On a recent trip to Catalina Island, we stayed at one of their huge, two-storey, two bedroom, two-bath villas overlooking beautiful Hamilton Cove.
The sandy beach was well-equipped with volleyball nets, basketball hoops, a swing set and picnic tables with barbeques. Further up the hill, a perfectly heated pool and hot tub, croquet lawn, elaborate mini golf course and tennis courts provided extra leisure activities.
As well as being an extremely peaceful and beautiful location, an additional benefit of staying in Hamilton Cove is that it included a motorized golf cart to make the 1.5-mile scenic trip into the main town of Avalon.
Although our rental was completely outfitted with a large, open-concept modern kitchen and dining room, we headed for the Bluewater Restaurant right on the waterfront in the center of town. We did however, have breakfast on the sunny patio overlooking the ocean.
The Bluewater is THE place to eat on Catalina especially for seafood lovers and those into creative appetizers. Reservations are recommended as it fills up with locals and visitors alike dropping in for afternoon drinks and staying for dinner.
On our drive into town, we passed the new zipline operated by Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour perched on a cliff that provides thrill seekers with unparalleled views of Palos Verdes Peninsula and Long Beach across the water from heights of 600 feet above sea level.
Closer to town, we passed the local cinema (the movie changes once a week) housed in an art deco rotunda – a former casino which is also the home of the Catalina Island Museum containing 8,000 years of human settlement history including photos of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities seeking an escape.
Two other attractions deserve special mention: Jeep Eco Tours are a hair-raising way to explore the surrounding mountains while supporting the conservation efforts of the Catalina Island Conservancy that protects 88 percent of Catalina Island, including more than 62 miles of deserted beaches.
Underwater, Catalina Ocean Expeditions allow visitors to come face-to-face with Catalina’s abundant marine life in their semi-submersible boats.