Santa Catalina Island [33°23′N 118°25′W]
Craving an island getaway but don't have the time nor money for the Caribbean? Catalina Island, a beach lovers paradise, just off the coast of Southern California is your next weekend escape. Situated just 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, Catalina Island is accessible via ferries that depart from Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point. Ferries depart every hour and can be booked here.
The Ferry to the island takes approximately an hour - be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins and the occasional whale sightings en route.
You'll land on Avalon, the biggest little town on this island, reminiscent of a miniature toy village. Cars are not allowed on the island so visitors must rely on bicycles or golf car rentals as the main form of transportation - although walking is just as convenient.
There are several beautiful hotel resorts on the island, Descano Beach Club being the most famous. Call in prior to your arrival at your hotel and they will be happy to provide you with a shuttle from the port to your lodging, free of charge.
Whether you are an adventure junkie or just craving some R&R by the sea, Avalon has plenty to do. Walking along the beach on Crescent Avenue are numerous shops and restaurants. Grab an ice cream scoop and walk down the pier for a beautiful view of the marina. Enjoy a bike ride amidst the quaint houses of Avalon or try your hand at golf further inland.
If you're looking for groceries and toiletries, there is a Vons just a few blocks inland. While you're at it, feel free to check out the Catalina Island Museum to indulge in local history and culture. Everything in Avalon is open from 8 am until sundown... there's not much to do in town once it gets dark except fall asleep to the thudding of the rocking boats in the Marina.
An island escape is not complete without some adventure and Catalina has plenty to do for thrill seekers. Jet Ski Rentals, Zip Line Tours, Snorkeling and Parasailing are some of your options for Day 2. Spend 90 minutes swimming amidst brightly colored fish, reefs and the occasional bright orange Garibaldi for only 29 dollars. Check out this amazing deal here!
If you're not much of a swimmer (like me... sadly), you have to try Parasailing with Parasailing Catalina. Nothing beats the thrill of scaling the air with the view of the entire city of Avalon and the ocean beneath you. Once you've had your adrenaline rush - relax the body, revitalize the spirit and rejuvenate the soul by immersing yourself in the pampering relaxation of massages and spas at the Deanna Stone Bodyworks.
Hope you enjoyed my photo diary of Avalon, Catalina. What are your favorite spots on the island? Let me know in the comments below. Meanwhile I'll get back to my mint mojito.
Essentials: Sunscreen, a pair of your Raybans and a Beach Towel.