A hop on an express boat to Catalina Island will get you to the island in less than 2 hours. Once the boat docks, the island is in your hands. Whether you’re there to sightsee, eat, drink, or camp; Catalina Island has a bit of everything for everyone at any age.
On this trip, my bf and I stayed for a night at St. Lauren Hotel. It was his first time on the island, therefore, it made sense for us to spend a weekend in order for us to truly enjoy the experience. Our hotel (known for its pink colors) was very close to the main square (about 5 minutes walk) yet far enough from the noise. Due to COVID19, there were a few hiccups that we faced as expected. Long story short, there was lack in communication from the hotel but, once we passed the checking in issues everything turned out nicely.
Our room, surprisingly, it was decent. We had a partial view of the ocean with natural lighting illuminating from our 3 window panes. At one point, we were watching the sunset right from our bed and the issues we had at the beginning of the trip became a distant memory.
Eating at restaurants was another hurdle for us as they were only accepting first come and first serve basis. No one seemed to be taking any reservations whatsoever, therefore, if you want to eat at any particular place you’ll have to get your booty there early or find elsewhere to eat. This can be frustrating especially when you’re hungry but, again this is COVID times and nothing will be the same as it was before so, be patient and plan ahead.
A host at Descanso Beach Club gave us a helpful tip. She suggested to arrive earlier before rush hour if you don’t want to wait or come during that sweet spot after lunch and before dinner time. We took her suggestion in consideration and came back to Descanso Beach Club right before dinner. Boy, she was spot on! The restaurant was 100 times quieter than the first time we tried to get a seat in the middle of rush hour. This time, we showed up at the right time and was seated at a table that overlooked the ocean. We were definitely content.
We ordered a few items from poke over rice and wings plates to the Buffalo Milk drink. Everything we ate and drink were pretty tasty.
Another restaurant we tried was the Blue Water Grill located at the main square. We were seated on the waterfront patio where we ordered the wedge salad, calamari and the chipotle swordfish. We thought the food here were much better than Descanso Beach Club.
For breakfast, we grabbed coffee and pastries to go from Catalina Cookie. I heard about this place when I researched for places to eat and drink in Avalon, Catalina. It had good reviews and I can tell you that their coffee and pastries were delicious! Conveniently, they were located near our hotel too.
If you’re not camping or on a boat in Catalina then, you’re bound to be looking for activities like we did that can be done on foot. The first day on the island we roamed around looking at stores, trying to find places to eat on a whim and basically getting our feet wet per se. We walked on the pier to check it out and on a spare of the moment we ended up going on a 45-minute Semi Submarine Tour that turned out to be quite pleasant. For $39 per person, the Semi Submarine tour allows you to feed fish from your seat. I wasn’t expecting that at all but, I liked the overall experience.
The rest of our trip was spent riding on a golf cart where we went in a loop around the island for an hour. I highly recommended it as it allows you to see viewpoints of the island that are worth taking photos of. In one of the stops, you can also see the botanical garden if time allows for it. We decided against it on this trip because we wanted to do other things but, the botanical garden will be on our list for the next time we return.
Transportation & Tickets
To get to the island make sure to reserve your spot in one of those express boats ahead of time. Each ports have scheduled trips and some are more limited than others. Also, look for ticket deals. At the time I was researching for our mini getaway, I found one or two deals. Make sure to read the fine print as some might no longer be available. See links below.
Lastly, if you want to enjoy the island without the crowds it is best to come in the weekdays or Sunday. We arrived in the middle of Saturday on this trip and the island was jam packed with tourists. It was quite difficult to get a table in the restaurants we wanted or even a spot to sit on the beach without rubbing elbows with other people. However, Sunday was quite the opposite. We were able to do everything we wanted and had plenty of time left for anything else we needed to see. In short, come when the island is less crowded if it is feasible.