I went to Catalina Island for a wedding and a quick weekend trip and it was so much fun! I didn’t think you can do that much on such a small island, but you can definitely fill your day(s) with something to do.
Catalina Island is an island south west of Los Angeles, CA. Their town (and touristy part) of the island is Avalon where we stayed and hung out. It was a nice get away from the busy-ness of the city to just enjoy the relaxing island life.
How to get there
The easiest way to get there is to take the ferry. You can take the ferry out of the Newport port or the Long Beach port. We took the Catalina Express out of Long Beach and it was only about an hour. There is covered seating and also outdoor seating on the ferry. The ride was pretty smooth for the most part, but if you get sea sick easily, I would take dramamine just in case as there was a couple of bumps here and there depending on the weather. The cost was about $75 roundtrip though it might be cheaper or more expensive depending on which day you go.
Where we stayed
Accommodations on the island is kind of pricey. We stayed at Hotel Metropole for a night. We arrived early and they let us store our luggage there while we went around the island. They gave us a call when our room was ready (1.5 hours before check in time) and even delivered a bottle of champagne when we checked in on Yelp. The room was spacious, clean, and ours even had a fireplace and a balcony! It’s a great location near the casino since that’s where we were going, but it’s a decent location to go anywhere as the the town is pretty small. They also boast a rooftop hot tub (max 4 people), free wifi and free breakfast (cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, coffee, OJ, bagels, pastries, etc.). Though it ran us nearly $300/night, it was a nice stay.
What to do
You can be a tourist and book tours and adventures like kayaking, scuba diving, zip lining, fishing, tour of the island on a jeep. Most will probably cost you $50+.
We opted for some cheaper (still touristy) options and was able to fill our day with lots of fun.
There are a lot of cute stores along the main road. Most stores sell things that have an island/beach vibe. My friend forgot a dress shirt for the wedding and we had a hard time finding something formal. After a mini scavenger hunt of walking in an out of almost every clothing store, we luckily found something with a collar at Latitude 33. Although it was fun to browse all the shops, don’t expect much more than island themed shirts, beach-y souvenirs and very casual and laid back clothes.
Check out the Casino
One of the first things you see where you’re nearing the island is the giant casino building. One of the things you can do is take a tour of this place. It’s probably not the casino you’re thinking of as there’s no gambling here, but it’s meant as a “gathering place”. I got the “insider tour” as my friend’s wedding was in it! One word to describe it: amazing!
Eat Ice Cream on the Beach
Though the “beaches” are fairly small, it’s nice to just chill there… with some ice cream! We love Scoops, which is located on the main strip. They have ice cream, gelato, sundaes, milkshakes, acai bowls and even Starbucks! Their secret to good ice cream is that they make it in small batches. They also have these Pozetti cases for light and temperature control. It was so good, we went back twice!
I don’t know how we came about to going mini golfing one morning, but it was a lot of fun. It’s $12 for an adult and 18 holes. The courses were well kept and challenging. Only 1 out of 5 of us were able to make a hole in one throughout the game. Protip: they have signs next to each course that shows you which way you should hit your ball. Come early as there was a lot of large groups later in the day.
Lunch on the Main Strip
When you travel, you have to eat, right? One of the places we ate at was Maggie’s Blue Rose for Mexican food. Since Catalina is known for lobster, we got the lobster enchiladas. We also got the duck enchiladas and the calamari to start. All had great flavor and were cooked well. The chips were super addicting as well and we also got margaritas to cool us down.
Or Just Eat Lobster
The lobster is so good here! We got a lobster roll from The Lobster Trap to go and ate it on the beach. Eating that lobster roll on a cute beach surrounded by island vibes was one of my favorite moments.
Biking Around the Island
I loved biking around the island. We went to Brown’s Bikes and wanted to rent electric bikes, but apparently you have to be 5’4″ or taller to rent! One of our friend was 2 inches shy of that so we decide to just rent beach cruisers with her instead. They gave us a map and showed us where the easy, medium and hard trails were. We started off easy and then went to a medium trail. Although doable, we were struggling a bit going up the hills with the beach cruisers. Regardless, it was fun to ride around the island and explore.
Chill at Descano Beach
Though we only stopped here for a moment, this was a cool little private beach where you can go in the water, chill on the sand, grab a drink at the bar or rent a cabana. We wished we had a little more time so that we can enjoy this beach, but we had to catch our ferry.
Other Things to Do
Other things to do are go to the spa, enjoy the museum and art galleries, and going to an escape room.
Overall, Catalina Island is such a cute little island! It’s perfect for a day trip or a quick weekend trip to get away from the city life. To be honest though, it’ll probably be a while before I go back as it’s pretty small and we already did everything we wanted to in one weekend.