“Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me.” The classic song has never rung more true, especially for vacationers seeking fabulous local destinations instead of distant and exotic locales.
Stay in one of the island’s many charming boutique hotels or choose the newly renovated Pavilion Hotel (513 Crescent Ave., 800/626-1496), located only 14 steps from the ocean. For longer stays, larger groups or to feel more like an islander, renting a house or condo is a great option. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals (800/631-5280) lists many of the island’s rentals in Avalon and nearby Hamilton Cove, a condo community located just beyond the infamous Catalina Casino.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing break, planning a family activity or interested in learning about the island’s history, there is a tour, excursion or activity to suit your needs. Waters off the shore of the island, ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, serve as home to hundreds of different varieties of marine life. Lover’s Cove, Casino Point Marine Park and Two Harbors are excellent to explore the deep. Rental equipment is available at several locations in Avalon.
For those who choose not to interact with marine life on such an intimate scale, Glass Bottom Boat tours (150 Metropole Ave., 310/510-8687) give guests a glimpse into the kelp forests off the coast of the island without having to get wet. Day trips to Two Harbors, parasailing and kayaking adventures are other fun options (20 Pleasure Pier, 310/510-9280).
Don’t miss an opportunity to taste some of the ocean’s freshest seafood at some of the island’s many great restaurants, including Casino Dock Café (2 Casino Way, 310/510-2755), where views of Avalon harbor and casino are equally as satisfying as the food. For a sweet treat, Lloyd’s of Avalon (315 Crescent Ave., 310/510-7266) produces delicious hand-dipped caramel apples and saltwater taffy, which you can often see being pulled in the storefront window.
Only an hour boat ride from Long Beach (800/481-3470, www.catalinaexpress.com,) or 15 minutes by helicopter (800/228-2566, www.islandexpress.com), Catalina Island’s proximity to the California coast makes it the perfect place to escape for a day trip or long weekend, providing visitors with ample opportunities for relaxation and serenity.
Visit www.visitcatalinaisland.com to make reservations, book tours and learn more about Catalina Island’s attractions.