Catalina Island Getaway

I spent last weekend 26 miles off-shore on Catalina Island with three of my favorite California friends. This was yet another item on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. We had a bunch of schedules to juggle, but ultimately decided that Xavier, Sean and myself would ride the 10am ferry on Saturday from Downtown Landing in Long Beach to the town of Avalon on the island. Katie would follow us that evening, taking the 4:15pm ferry. On Sunday, Katie and Sean would head home on the 6pm ferry and Xavier and I would stay an additional night, leaving at 3:45pm on Monday. Crazy, right? But it was the best plan to get everyone there and having fun for at least some overlapping time! We had decided on Avalon because there was a campground one mile from the town, whereas the trek was much further from Two Harbors to a campground when we went to book. As it turned out, it’s not easy (or cheap) at all to get between the towns so next time I would set my sites on planning more ahead and seeing the other side of Catalina. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

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Saturday morning the boys and I had little traffic (yay!!) and even managed to grab a delicious breakfast to take on the ferry with us. We found seats inside together and settled in for the 75 minute ride into the Pacific. We landed in Avalon and decided that they best plan of action was to wander up to camp, get set up, and go from there. Once we did that, it was about 1pm and the sun had zapped most of our energy. So Sean and I played cards (and then I napped) while Xavier napped. We then set off up a roughly two mile trail with the hope of seeing the other side of the mountain we were set up next to. This hike proved more challenging than we anticipated and Xavier turned around after a bit to recover in the tent. Sean and I persevered under the agreement that we would stop as often as we had to and for as long as we needed. The views going up were amazing looking back at the town of Avalon, but the views up and over looking out across the Pacific and at St. Nicholas Island were incredible too! After resting at the top (and taking the photos below) we quickly descended to pick up Xavier so we could head back into town to meet Katie’s ferry.

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Katie’s first request was for dinner and drinks, so we opted to keep her bag with us and stay in town rather than hike back out to camp just to turn around and come right back.  We picked a Mexican restaurant that met everyone’s requests and gobbled up our dinners. The food was okay, nothing amazing but not bad. Xavier and I opted for a post-dinner snack of delicious ice cream (I got pistachio nut!) to give ourselves the energy to get back to camp. We all played games and then crashed super early. We had been warned about Catalina foxes stealing food in the night but shrugged it off and stuffed our food in the grill at our campsite. Overnight we heard the shrieks of the foxes, but were amused in the morning to see that they had only taken Sean’s ziplock of food out of our stash. He was less amused than the rest of us, lol. After a light breakfast of bars and fruit, we shuffled back into town to start our entertainment of the morning!

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I had found a website called Urban Adventure Quest, which hosts interactive scavenger hunts in towns throughout the country. We knew it was 21 questions and it would take us throughout Avalon, where we would have to find answers and work puzzles to complete the assigned tasks. It was estimated to take two hours, but we enjoyed ourselves and took almost four hours. The hunt took us out to the Casino (which was really a dance hall), where we paused to hit Descanso Beach for a quick dip in the Pacific Beach. It was super chilly but super clear! The main fish around the island is the Garibaldi fish, it’s bright orange!! After our swim, we shuffled back to town for a simple lunch of hot dogs and burgers. And then the hunt continued! We worked crosswords, solved mysteries, and searched for clues. It was actually really fun and I would highly recommend trying one of these hunts in a new city!

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Catalina 110After the scavenger hunt finished (we tied for third online!), we decided to rent a golf cart for an hour. Most residents drive carts, which I love, and it allowed us to see the town from the cliffs. We also checked out the zipline, which looked awesome, and watched the boats come and go from the harbor. The roads were twisty and windy and exciting! Most were one-way, but Sean was really good at navigating for us using the map provided. After the cart tour, it was time for Sean and Katie to leave on the ferry. But first, Sean tried Buffalo Milk and Katie got her ice cream.

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Once they were off, Xavier and I went to a delicious Chinese restaurant for a warm, filling dinner. Then it was time to walk back up to the campground… where the Catalina foxes were. I’m not going to lie, I let myself get a little freaked about them. It didn’t help that we were a mile outside of town and were the ONLY two people in the entire campground that night. Sure enough, we heard the foxes trying to take our food. But Xavier stole it back and we stored it in a trash can overnight. Whatever works? I guess? It was a long night… full of foxes.

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In the morning, we decided that since we couldn’t get over to Two Harbors we might as well catch the earlier ferry home. So we switched our tickets from 3:45pm to 11:45am. Then we booked a quick glass-bottom boat tour! Neither of us had been on a boat like that, and we had a good time. I won’t lie, I wanted to see some cool ocean animals but the fish we found were good enough for the first attempt! We saw a bunch of Garibaldi and lots of other species. The downside of this tour was that I felt a little dizzy afterwards and we had to get immediately on the ferry to head home. I wasn’t loving that, but at least the views heading back were wonderful. Oh! And on the way in on Saturday as we reached the harbor we saw whales! And then as we stood on the pier waiting to leave, we saw dolphins. So both of those were cool examples of marine life.

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Once back on the mainland, Xavier and I took the 101 south through Long Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point. I found a poke restaurant to try for lunch and we took our salmon bowls to a cute park overlooking the cove. It was the perfectly relaxing ending to a fun-filled island adventure. I would absolutely go back, I’d love to see more of the island, and I’d definitely recommend to everyone to wait until non-peak seasons to explore so everything is a little cheaper and a little less crowded. Overall though, I loved this island getaway that was so close to home!

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  1. Trackback: Revised 30 Before 30 Project | Rays of Funshine

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