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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Nicolle

Catalina: The Perfect Weekend Trip

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Hey my ISMS Family! Looking to explore Catalina? I can’t wait to share my girls trip to Catalina Island with you! Catalina has a healthy balance of adventure, relaxing and fun times!

If you’ve never been to Catalina, it’s a 22 mile long by 8 mile wide island about an hour off the coast of Southern California. Once you decide to visit Catalina, booking transportation to and from the island is key.

I recommend the Catalina Express with ports on The Mainland at San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point with arrival at both Avalon & Two Harbors in Catalina. If you’ve never heard of Two Harbors, stay tuned I plan on doing another blog coving “the other side” of Catalina next year 💋

If you are coming from northern SoCal (Los Angeles Area) as I was, departing from San Pedro or Long Beach will be your closer options. If you’re traveling from the San Diego Area, Dana Point will be your best option. All locations you can park over night at and parking costs apx. $15-20 a night*.

We decided on going in and out of Long Beach as my girl, Brooklynn was coming from southern SoCal and I was coming from Los Angeles. Parking in Long Beach is a short walk right across the street from the port. We booked tickets in the Commodore Lounge which is on the second story of the boat with indoor and outdoor seating and priority boarding. We also loved that our tickets came with a complimentary drink voucher which we celebrated with a yummy morning Bloody Mary!

If you’ve never traveled by boat before this high-speed catamaran is incredibly smooth and quick with picturesque views from every seat. Once arriving in Avalon, you will debark right on the island and about a 5 min beautiful walk from city center.

We stayed at the beautiful Pavilion Hotel, which I believe is the closest to the port and directly across the street from the public beach. When we arrived our room wasn’t quite ready yet, as we took the early morning ferry. We loved how easy it was to store our bags and they had multiple dressing next to storage area so we could freshen up and get changed for ziplining & our daily activities!

When walking into the Pavilion Hotel my favorite part was the sense of community with the oversized lounge area and outdoor fire pit looking over the beach. At night, we learned this becomes the gathering hole and everyone comes out for wine & cheese, to meet new friends and take in the sunset.

When in Avalon the primary form of transportation is walking so make sure to bring comfy shoes. You can also rent a golf cart to cruise around the island. Walking from the furthest point (the port/Catalina Express) to the other end, Descanso Beach Club is about a 20-25 min absolutely breathtaking walk. Even though you are on island time, make sure to give yourself plenty of time. I always found myself finding new shops along my walk and also found so many photo ops!

To book your trip, it’s so easy by going to the Catalina Island Company. Our first excursion was the Zip Line Eco Tour! We had hands down the best Tour Guides ever, Hunter and Nick, who made us feel so safe, kept us laughing and shared so much history about the island. We also met the sweetest family of 5, who joined us on our tour. If you don’t know, my family is back in NH and I’ve been missing them so much especially the past two years and this amazing family made Brooklynn and I feel like we were part of their family!!

To start the tour, we headed over to the Descanso Beach Club and then just up the hill lies Zip-lining, Catalina Aerial Adventure, Climbing Wall, Falconry Experience & More! Once you get checked in, yes there is a 240 max weight and they do weigh you. Don’t worry, I packed on some quarantine weight and was not expecting my number. You can choose to have the number kept secret or if your like me, you can know. Once you’ve been weighed, you will meet your guides and get suited up. Harness check?! Tours normally will have about 7-10 people in them, so definitely introduce yourself and make friends with the other parties. It’s a magical 2 hour experience that will bond you for life!

I was a little nervous about a long hike to the top but it’s actually a quick bus ride with no walking required. Okay I lied 🤥 there is about 5 minute walk to and from the bus. Once at the top, you immediately walk out to the baby zip line to warm you up and get you ready for what’s your come. Everyone has a different style of making their first leap, your crazy girl over here, like most things in life took off running and trusted the world while traveling at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The total experience is 5 different zip lines that vary in length and steepness. Each time you are in the air, there is a rush that takes over your soul. Before we knew it, we were saying our goodbyes to our new friends and purchasing the images from the stationary cameras throughout the experience. The cost of the zip-lining experience is $119 per person (Monday - Friday), $129 per person (Saturday & Sunday) and $50 for all the images from the entire party*.

After Zip-lining, we made our way back to the Pavilion Hotel to check in. Brooklynn took a little nap and I took a stroll around to partake in some mingling during wine & cheese and hang by the fire-pit. After meeting some amazing new friends, I walked back to awake my sleeping beauty, Brooklynn and get ready for dinner and some drinks on the island. While unpacking, I found my go-to, must have dry shampoo forgot to make the trip with me. Incase you are forgetful like me, don’t worry there is a Vons in walking distance with everything you could possibly need!

With dry shampoo in hand we decided to start at Luau Larry’s for dinner & drinks. Larry’s has a fun, pub inspired menu and the Signature Wiki Wacker drink is delicious! The Wiki Wacker comes complete with a fun wicker hat that you get to take with you as a Souvenir. After Luau Larrys, we made a stop at the Chi Chi Dance Club which had 90s to today dance music pumping and a stage with cages, bright lights and so much room to dance! After we danced, we played a game of pool down the street at The Locker Room. We ended the night sitting around the fire-pit and making some more new friends. Island life really brings out a sense of family and togetherness which I loved!

Sunday morning we sat outside and grabbed breakfast next door to the Pavilion Hotel at the The Pancake Cottage. The bloody’s and breakfast were fantastic! I recommend the Denver Omelet. There are only a couple tables outside and if you can scoop one of them, you are in for some magic views!

After breakfast, we checked out, stored our bags and headed over to our cabana at the Descanso Beach Club. Here you instantly transform to south of France & Mediterranean vibes. We quickly forgot we were only an hour from The Mainland- Maybe the yummy Lava Flow frozen cocktails helped elevate the experience!

After a few hours of beach bumming, we headed out in Kayaks to explore Catalina by water. Right next to the Descanso Beach Club are paddle-boards, kayaks & snorkeling rentals. If you are looking for parasailing 🪂 this is back on the other end of Avalon by the Catalina Express port & ferries.

Time flew by and before we knew it we were running back to the Pavilion Hotel to grab our bags out of storage and board the Catalina Express to take us back to The Mainland. We booked the 3:50pm ferry. During winter this was the perfect sunset ride home and let me tell you the sunset vibes are a thing. We took seats all the way in the back on the second floor and spent the whole boat ride back watching the magic. It truly was the perfect end to our Catalina Experience!

Until next time Catalina, much love from your girl, Heidiisms 💋


*Prices may vary

**Bonus Points if you find an grammatical errors and let me know on IG! Always love your help family when I’m writing ✍️

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