We sent one of our honorary vixens, Amy Senger, on a Southern California escape to find out what’s new on Catalina Island. One of the main draws? FlipKey. Accommodations on the island have historically been difficult to come by, with lackluster options, thus many visitors from SoCal have just made it a day trip in years past. Now with vacation rental listings via FlipKey, Catalina has a multitude of options that make a longer stay not only possible, but desirable. Here, Amy’s guide to visiting Catalina.
Do you ever just need to get away from the hustle of LA?
Santa Catalina Island (also known as Catalina Island or simply Catalina) is as enchanting as it is inspiriting, and it’s only a short 45-minute ferry ride from Long Beach.
A retreat that is equal parts charm (akin to a Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, with a St. Thomas flair) and natural oasis, Catalina offers tranquility, divinity and raw beauty to its feral visitors.
Twenty-two miles long and eight miles wide, the island is rich with history, wildlife and breathtaking views, and once you experience its allure, you can’t help but return to explore all the island has to offer.
Where to Stay
- Hamilton Cove: This private community of individually-owned vacation villas offers spectacular ocean views, where you’ll spot dolphins, seals, pelicans, colorful garibaldi, even the occasional shark (as I saw one morning). Each villa extends all the comforts and luxuries of home (with full kitchens, spacious living rooms, wifi, private balconies) as well as use of the community’s amenities (pool, spa, health club, putting course, tennis courts, croquet court, sand volleyball court and beach area). You also get your very own golf cart, which is the primary mode of transportation on the island and a heck of a lot of fun. Just a mile and a half from the heart of Avalon, Hamilton Cove delivers quick and easy access to downtown attractions, while providing a blissful backdrop of peace and serenity.
- Accommodations on the island have historically been difficult to come by, with lackluster options, thus many visitors from SoCal have just made it a day trip in years past. Now with vacation rental listings via FlipKey, Catalina has a multitude of options that make a longer stay not only possible, but desirable.
Where to Play
- Island Jeep Eco Tour – This two-hour adventure is the ideal way to witness and experience the remote corners and creatures of Catalina that many don’t often see — including the 150+ bison that have inhabited the island since the 1920’s when they were supposedly first imported for the silent film version of Zane Grey’s Western tale, The Vanishing American. More tour info here.
- Flying Fish Festival: Catalina receives the largest school of flying fish in the country. From late May to September, every year, the island welcomes these famed acrobatic wonders, who soar out of the water at heights of up to 30 feet and glides for distances as long as ¼ mile. More info here.
- Snorkeling: Voted “World’s Healthiest Marine Environment” by Scuba Diving Magazine, Catalina’s water is clean and crisp, with visibility ranging from 40-100 feet. Avalon Bay’s clear water, abundant marine life, giant kelp forests and snorkel-friendly services make the island a top destination for divers, as well as Emerald Bay, which is a top camping destination.
- The History Museum: Learn Catalina’s fascinating history — from the time that Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jean Dougherty (nee Baker) spent on the island while married to her first husband, to the controversy surrounding Natalia Wood’s drowning, to the mystery fire that burnt down half of Avalon, to the development vision of chewing-gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr. to create a destination for people of ages and economic backgrounds – at the Catalina Island Museum.
Where to Eat
- CC Gallagher: The perfect lunch spot, this cozy cafe combines dining with shopping for a delightful experience (Sushi, Deli, Cafe, Wine, Sake, Beer, Art, Jewelry — whatever you are looking for). Visit their website here.
- Bluewater Grill: If you love seafood, Bluewater Grill is where it’s at. Overlooking Avalon Bay, the waterfront restaurant offers casual, fun dining with an oyster bar, sushi bar, patio dining and full bar with a robust wine list.
- The Inn at Mt. Ada: Enjoy the Inn’s elegant breakfast or lunch, with spectacular views of Avalon Bay. Reservations are required.
The Catalina Express provides daily, 45-minute ferry rides to and from the island, with easy, overnight, garage parking. And from May 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014, you can “Free Ride on Your Birthday!”
About Amy Senger
Amy Senger is an L.A. transplant by way of Washington, DC, and co-founder of 1X57, named to Washingtonian’s Tech Titans list with her partner Steven Mandzik. Follow her on twitter @sengseng.