Ever since arriving in Newport Beach I had wanted to visit Santa Catalina Island. It’s one of those things where because it’s right there, just 25 miles off shore, you tend to put it off….constantly. Anyway, late summer 2014 and my old buddy ‘Big Wave’ Dave was in town from Bend, OR. This was the perfect opportunity to make that long awaited trip.
What we had not bargained for was the Annual jazz festival taking place on the same weekend so literally every hotel room in Avalon was booked solid!
Plan B – Day Trip. We would drive down to Dana Point on Saturday morning and get the 7.45am Catalina Express ferry over to Avalon.
The ferry ride takes about 80 minutes from Dana Point harbor and costs around $75 for a return ticket. It’s worth booking online and arriving early as parking can be an issue.
Once docked you stroll around the harbor, past t-shirt shops and touristy stuff, and into the little town of Avalon. The Island was once owned by William Wrigley Jr and he had developed Avalon into a resort island destination. It was more like Bend OR, cloudy and a little chilly when we arrived so decided to find a hole in the wall breakfast joint. Both Dave and I decided to head out of town and we stumbled upon a ‘locals’ hangout called The Sandtrap where we enjoyed a breakfast burrito and yet another cup of coffee.
The clouds cleared and it was turning into a gorgeous California day. Next stop was back into the town to find a golf cart to rent (loads of them about) to tour the Island. We opted for a 4 hour rental which was more than enough. Some wonderful views overlooking the harbor (Dave is considerably shorter than he looks in the photo!).
We stopped off on the tour to take photos (there is a zip line and various little bars) and headed back into town. Walking around to the famous Avalon Casino, we found a little gem of a spot (Descanso Beach – from town walk towards the Casino and keep going) we had a beer and enjoyed the rest of the late Summer day.
As for the Real Estate in Avalon there was plenty of vacation rentals and time share options plus small/medium type boutique hotels and B&B’s. Up on the hills overlooking the harbor larger homes were being built. It has a very laid back feel but there was definitely a new buzz with upscale restaurants and shops starting to line the main beach area.
If you want to venture beyond Avalon then there are shuttle buses available to take you to campgrounds etc. You can also get hiking and biking permits.
Our ferry home was 7pm but there were earlier options.
“Man in underpants coming through”