Catalina Island | Travel Diary

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One trip down for the summer, so many more to go! Tim and I have a busy schedule this summer and we started out with a bang by hitting up Catalina Island for our one year anniversary.  We left late Friday night and headed out around Sunday morning, and I think that was the perfect time frame.  Catalina Island is small as I'm sure a lot of you know, so it doesn't take long to explore and figure out what you want to do.  This was my third time visiting the island, so I put together a list of restaurants, hotels, and touristy things to do to help you if you ever decide to head over. 

Catalina Island

TRANSPORTATION

to and from the island

Tim and I live in Orange County, so traveling to the Catalina Express is easy for us. Every time I've gone to Catalina I always leave out of Long Beach.  One thing for you to know is they have a parking structure so your car is completely safe, I've never had any worries or concerns personally.  Depending on how long you are going though, the price gets more expensive.  It was about $35 for parking which is insane, but thats life.  It definitely has an airport feel, as I would describe it.  It has a cafe, and a place to get in line to pick up your tickets.  Of course seating is located there too and it basically looks like the boarding area before getting on a plane.  I would recommend bringing your own snacks because I feel that the options aren't the best there, especially if you are picky! If you're in general seating it is first come first serve, so I would recommend getting in line outside as early as possible, because whoever is first boards first. The Catalina Express has bathrooms located on the ships as well as an eating area, but again, not many options.  Mostly packaged snacks. How smooth your trip is definitely depends on the weather as I'm sure you can guess.  They store your luggage if you're traveling big or you can keep it with you like we did, by your feet or in overhead space. I'd say the longest it could take is an hour and fifteen minutes, but both ways we made it in under an hour.

getting around the island

You will by no means need a golf cart for the entire time you are there.  We had one for three hours and I would say thats the most you need.  One of the reasons is because parking literally does not exist.  They are also very on top of giving out tickets, and you need the correct permits for a lot of things so its not even worth it.  Not to mention, everything is in walking distance.  The main reason we got a golf cart was so we could tour the island.  This took us as far as we could go away from the bay, and then took us uphill and around the top layer of Catalina.  We were able to visit Wrigley mansion, go to photo spots, pass by zip lining, see the houses in Avalon, and just really take a drive around the city.  We went through the company called Island Rentals Golf Cart Rentals and were so pleased with the customer service! The main reason we went through them was because you only have to be 21 years of age to be the driver of the cart. We paid $90 total, for 2 hours and then we got the third hour free, which was a huge plus! You'll notice though regardless though of which company you go through, (we recommend this one) is that each one will let you only have it for 3 hours max.  And like I said, you don't need it more than that so its perfect.

WHERE WE ATE

PANCAKE COTTAGE

In case you didn't know, breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day! Specifically pancakes and bacon- extra crispy. Yumm! This satisfied my cravings pretty easily because I'm not too hard to please when it comes to breakfast.  If Tim is picking the restaurant, all I need is for there to be pancakes.  Tim also isn't a very picky eater so this for us was an awesome meal.  You can tell everybody else loved it too because it was PACKED compared to the other breakfast locations.  The wait time for both being seated and getting food was also decent compared to how many people were there on a Saturday morning. I would definitely go back!

MI CASITA

Mexican food, another one of my favorites.  As long as the place has chips and guacamole I'll make it.  I went here for dinner last time I was on the island so this was a repeat for me! And I was not disappointed.  I eat like bird, and we had a lot of snacks that day so we ordered a huge appetizer plate that came with wings, tacquitos, calamari, and I think more.  This covered both of our meals for us because it was big and it kept it on the cheaper side.  Plus, it was delicious which is what really matters! If you eat here, ask to sit by the window so you can get the view of the street and get that laid back beach feeling! 

ORIGINAL JACK'S COUNTRY KITCHEN

Another yummy breakfast spot! I'd say this came second to Pancake Cottage just because the service wasn't as good.  They were so busy and definitely didn't have as much help so things were more chaotic.  But, I will give them a high five for the food! It also hit the spot on Sunday morning and the wait time wasn't bad.  But you are definitely in and out since people are waiting.  Its like your typical Sunday morning breakfast spot thats busy and everyone loves.  It reminded me of a mom & pop diner!

ORIGINAL ANTONIO'S

Tim and I were both disappointed by this place.  We were hoping for some greasy cheesy pizza with thick crust, but instead we got what felt like cardboard.  Definitely not the best pizza we ever had, but we ate it.  I would most likely not go back here again! 

Other Restaurant Recommendations...

Avalon Bake Shop (has the best donuts!)

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WHAT WE DID

Saturday was our adventure day, and I would say most of it consisted of the golf cart.  Exploring the city, and touring Wrigley Mansion.  Once we were done touring we decided to go to Descanso Beach Club and layout for a few hours before getting ready for dinner.  We could've done A LOT, but we were trying to not go hog wild on this trip.  We have other ones coming up that we would rather do adventures at! Catalina has so much activities like zip lining, jet skiing, parasailing, bottom glass boat tours, and a lot of water activities, but neither of us were willing to pay for them.  So we posted up on the beach and relaxed! Which was honestly just what we needed. Like I said though, I have been to Catalina before and gone through multiple companies for doing tourist activities, and here is what I would recommend if you are planning on getting active...

Ziplining

Jet Skiing & Electric Bike Ride (I've done the package before and I highly recommend!)

Parasailing

Aerial Adventure

Glass Bottom Boat Voyage

and if you are really feeling fancy... Club Cabana Rentals

WHERE WE STAYED

Like I said, I've been to Catalina three times.  The first time I went though I stayed on a boat, and the second time I went I did not stay the night, so this was actually my first time staying on the island.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn and I was really happy with our stay! Our room was really nice and the check in and check out process was super easy which is a huge plus for me.  Not that where you are staying doesn't matter, but you are most likely going to be doing a lot of exploring so really you will only be there for getting ready and sleeping.  I LOVED the bed (haha) and seriously had the best sleep of my life. The King bed was the biggest one I've slept in and also the comfiest! The showers were also super nice and random fact, but I felt that the water pressure was amazing! Every time I stay at a hotel I feel like my showers kinda suck because the water isn't that great, but this felt just like home...now that I've told you random facts about the Holiday Inn-- hopefully you choose to stay here, ha! We did not go to the pool and I don't recommend to go to any hotel pool, honestly.  Enjoy the beach because there are so many activities, the water is beautiful and the beaches are clean.  LOVE. 

MY OUTFITS

Sorry to disappoint, ladies...but I bought no new outfits for this trip and everything I did wear is pretty old or I don't remember where I got it from! I'm going to be honest though.  It felt so nice to kind of feel like a human again and not have to worry about my outfits, linking them, getting the good picture, and spending money to buy new outfits.  I was able to spend time with my love and not have to worry about that which made it feel like a TRUE vacation.  Don't worry though-- all the rest of my trips will have very specific outfits and they will all be linked! I'm excited for our next trip, which if you read this post, YAY for you! We will be going to Mexico in July on a family cruise and we are both STOKED! I haven't been on a cruise in a least 5 years so I'm really excited to get away.  

XO,

Danielle Alana