Exploring Catalina Island

Mark and I went to Catalina Island the day after Christmas. It was absolutely beautiful and we had an amazing trip. It was our first trip without the kiddos since we had the little guy, and it was much needed! We loved our alone time and had so much fun exploring Catalina on our own. Next time we go we will for sure bring the kids as it seems like a great spot to bring the little ones. Mark had never been and I hadn’t been since I was a teenager so it was pretty new for us both. Catalina Express and Hotel Catalina partnered with us on our trip so we could share all about it with you here. Life is a bit different in Catalina, although similar to San Diego, it definitely has its quirks. View our favorite explorations from our trip below!

The Boat Ride

We took the Catalina Express from Dana Point to Avalon in Catalina. It is about an hour boat ride one way. They also offer trips from San Pedro or Long Beach. Catalina Express has a very comfortable line of high speed boats that travel daily and year round. When we first got on, I realized I forgot to bring a drink and a snack. Thankfully, they offer a full bar, refreshments and snacks. I picked up a Clif Bar and a water then we headed to the top deck to enjoy the sun on the way over. It was actually pretty cold out but the fresh breeze felt so nice. Once we arrived in Catalina, we headed straight to Hotel Catalina to unload our bags. They offer golf cart rides to take you to your hotel right off the boat but we chose to walk over. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the boat dock.

Stay in Catalina

Hotel Catalina is just about a block up from the main part of town and the water. The photo above was taken from outside our hotel. The views in Catalina are absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t get enough of the ocean and palms. We really enjoyed our hotel as it was in the ideal location, it was very comfortable and reasonable. The hotel was quaint and full of Catalina charm. I mean that in a really good way. There is a lot of history to the hotel and I found it to be so comforting.

The Catalina Island Museum

We learned a lot about Catalina when we did a tour at The Catalina Island Museum. I highly recommend you check out the museum when you first arrive in Catalina. They have a really good video that explains all about the history of the Island. Did you know that William Wrigley Jr., (founder of the chewing gum) invested millions into the island after a large fire in 1919? “Catalina is the playground for all, rich or poor, youth or aged. All classes mix with democratic spirit”. – Wrigley. He felt he was doing something definite and useful for humanity in developing the island as a place for all. He brought the Chicago Cubs to the island each year for their spring training and to get travelers to come. I found the story fascinating and really enjoyed learning about it at the museum. The museum also had Art Nouveau and graphic prints on display while we were visiting. These are some of the images that inspired me while I was in college for graphic design!

Play in Catalina

We stopped in Lloyd’s of Avalon for a scoop of ice cream and fresh made salt water taffy on our way to our first adventure. Golf carts are the primary method of travel on the island. How fun is that? We took the golf cart all around Avalon and toured up and down the streets. Driving around a golf cart on regular streets was so exciting! It felt like we were at an amusement park driving go carts around, but way better! We stopped and watched as a few people zip lined over the canyon. It looked like fun but not quite my thing – maybe someday. I really enjoyed checking out the neighborhoods and all the different buildings. I asked a lady about all the cats that used to be in Catalina and she said they were all rescued. I just remembered a bunch of really large cats roaming around when I went the first time. We also did a lot of walking, shopping and lounging. This was a trip for us to relax, explore and just be. It was exactly what we needed. Some good down time within beautiful views of the ocean!

We also learned that the restaurants do not serve water because of the drought. They sell water bottles for 50 cents. This was a reminder that we were on an Island and to be respectful. We made sure to keep our showers short and not waste any unnecessary water.

We sat by the water a few times just to soak in the beauty. The weather was cold the first day then it warmed up really nice for the last two days.

We took a few walks down by the casino and over to Descanso Beach.

The Food

We had some really good food while we were in Catalina. My absolute favorite meal was from Maggie’s Blue Rose Cafe. We actually ending up eating there twice because we enjoyed it so much. All of their food is made fresh in house or sourced locally and flown in on ice. Their attention to detail was on point. Our favorite dishes were the lobster enchiladas, the crab + corn empanadas and the Mexican style shrimp cocktail.


We also really enjoyed The Lobster Trap, Jack’s Country Kitchen, Scoops and a nice dinner at Bluewater Avalon. They had excellent customer service and really tasty dishes. We enjoyed a nice evening right on the water.

We headed back to Dana Point on the Catalina Express and enjoyed the most beautiful sunset! It was the perfect end to our relaxing trip to Catalina.

Have you been to Catalina Island?
If you’ve never been, you should check it out! Catalina Island has been called Birthday Island, as a lot of local businesses offer birthday deals. Catalina Express is offering a free round trip ticket for those going on their birthday and traveling with another paid guest. We just may have to go again this year!

This post is sponsored by Catalina Express and their partners. All opinions are my own.



I love sharing about family, food and fun in and around San Diego! Enjoy, Bri

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