Explore Catalina Island’s rich coast

by Kristen MacBride

Catalina offers visitors to the island a myriad of exhilarating experiences, no matter the size of their wallet, MCT Campus
Catalina offers visitors to the island a myriad of exhilarating experiences, no matter the size of their wallet, MCT Campus

Catalina Island is a destination where visitors choose the experience. The island offers countless activities that appeal to vacationers of all ages to create the perfect getaway.

Catalina’s shadowy outline can be seen from its mere 22 mile distance from Los Angeles. The island’s rolling hills, cliffs, beaches and palm trees are the only of the eight Channel Islands that have been inhabited and designed for a quick escape for Southern Californians.

The easiest way to reach the island is by the Catalina Express.

Departing from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, the Catalina Express provides 30 round-trips each day, costing about $68 for adults, to Catalina’s two main cities, Avalon and Two Harbors.

Greeted by a lulling ocean breeze, visitors have numerous options for accommodation and transportation. Donna Harris, marketing manager for the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce, prides Catalina on “having restaurants and places to stay whether guests want to experience beachfront and spa hotels or an inexpensive camping trip.”

Avalon’s teeming streets, restaurants and shops are best experienced on foot, but bikes are available to rent hourly or daily for those looking to explore the trails and views Catalina’s bluffs have to offer. Harris also said renting a golf cart is a popular choice among visitors who want to move around the island at their own leisurely paces.

Catalina accommodates travelers with varying budgets and desired levels of pampering. Visitors can camp in beachside and countryside tents only reached by kayak, hike expeditions or surrender to beachside massages from one of the many spa hotels.

For those with larger groups and more time to spend, Harris recommended staying in a beach cottage with multiple rooms and a kitchen for the best deal.

The outdoors, adventure and fresh air are in no short supply in Catalina. The island offers copious activities to enjoy on land, water and air. Hiking on the rugged trails of the island allows visitors to gaze at the island’s beaches and crystal waters perched atop rocky bluffs. The terrain and history of the island can also be discovered by Jeep and Hummer-guided tours. Golf and tennis offer visitors a chance to compete while taking in the island’s scenery as well.

Kayak, and Jet Ski rentals allow visitors to explore the limpid waters, whether for fishing, traveling to secluded coves or snorkeling. Thrill-seekers can discover the waters and marine life from below surface by scuba diving or snorkeling along the ocean floor. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe the panoramic view by parasail or helicopter.

Diners can enjoy more than 30 different restaurants offered by Catalina. Fresh seafood accompanies harbor views from the patios of M Restaurant and The Landing Bar and Grill. Tropical drinks and live music spots, such as Luau Larry’s and The Sandtrap, can be found scattered along the island’s beachfront. Catalina’s dining scene provides many opportunities for tourists to dine and drink with their feet planted firmly in the sand.