So…I am a quarter of a century old 😦 I turned 25 years on a few days ago, and to celebrate I went to Catalina Island.
Of course I’ve heard that there is no risk traveling within the continental U.S and its territories and Islands, but I was still hesitant due to the eternal “what if”. However, I decided that if I went to Europe, I surely can hop to an island, I invited my parents, but they were scared…it is extremely sad that my folks are even fearful of traveling to an island, that tells you the state of mind of some of the older generation. So instead I took my friends. There are two major ferries to get to the Island from Los Angeles, Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer. Catalina Express departs from two places around the LA area, Long Beach and Dana Point, while Catalina Flyer departs from Newport Beach. I chose Catalina Flyer because they had the code 1010 which discounted $10 roundtrip, thus I paid $60 in total and it is also free on your birthday! The only downside to Catalina Flyer is that it only goes to Catalina Island once a day, it leaves Newport Beach at 9am and leaves Avalon at 4:30, while the other major ferry has a departure time every hour during the day and you may come back to the mainland at whatever time you like.
If you are not sure about your schedule or your activities and at what time you would like to depart the Island, I suggest taking Catalina Express because it gives you flexibility of time, but if you know your itinerary or you are not planning to do many activities then take Flyer. Below are the links for both ferries:
Catalina Flyer is very punctual therefore you have to be at the pier by 8:30 am, if you want to sit inside where the tables are located, arrive at the port by 8am because those seats get filled really quickly. If you like the scenic view I recommend enjoying your trip outside, if you choose this option take a sweater because it gets very windy and cold also try to sit towards the back where the shed is if you want to avoid most of the wind. If you suffer from motion sickness I suggest the top deck because the waves are hardly felt, but if you get sick, go to the lower deck immediately in case of vomit (take motion sickness medicine prior departure).
Do not take various items to the island if you are only going for a day, the hike is very easy and there are plenty of places to sit and relax that do not require extra equipment. If you want a full day I suggest the tours, which also do not require much equipment. Just take water, sunscreen (the lack of trees is kind of oustanding), and perhaps simple snacks.
Take money if you are planning to take advantage of all the various tours, but if you cannot afford it, you will not spend more than $60.
Let’s talk about my birthday experience!
I left my home at 7:15 am but arrived to Newport Beach at 8:20 because the road was closed so my friend John and I got a bit lost in transit haha we always get lost, that is our thing practically, our friendship inside joke. We parked at the beach parking lot and bought the all day ticket for $18 (in a vending machine kind of thing, also know or write down your license plate, it WILL ask for it), and we walked to the ticket booth to the ferry which is a 5 minute walk from the lot. My middle name is danger because the moment we saw our friends the line started moving to enter the ferry so you really need to arrive early at the port. We went to the top deck and sat at one of the open booths, it was beautiful! We saw plenty of marine life, dolphins, one whale, sea lions and the view of the ocean was breath taking.
There is something serene about staring at the endless water, peaceful even…I always think of how small and insignificant I am compared to the vast majority of the natural world. Imagine the millions of macro and microscopic creatures of the ocean alone? We are so tiny. It puts things into perspective, gives you a taste of the wonders of the universe that we might never know, because at the bottom of the ocean there might be unimaginable creatures with many virtues that only science fiction authors imagine.
We arrived at Avalon approximately at 10:15 am and my first reaction was “tiny” lol but very charming!
As you can see Avalon is tiny, this is literally the whole city, at maximum a thousand people actually reside in the Island, therefore there are more tourists than islanders. Also look at the beautiful water, it was surprisingly clear!
There is another tiny city as well, I am not sure if this is Two Harbors (the other major city of the Island)
As soon as I stepped on land I told my friends I was hungry, therefore we walked around and enjoyed the sun and looked for a place to have lunch. We found a nice restaurant called The Lobster Trap which offers seafood and hamburgers ranging from simple to complex. I ordered the Clam Chowder Bread Bowl, which was a bit salty but otherwise good, but if you order one of the sandwhiches such as the buffalo burger, it is a good deal because it is well served. The prices are reasonable as well, ranging from $7.00 to $45.00 depending on what you want to eat, obviously the lobster speacialties are the most expensive.
After lunch we hiked to the Botanical Gardens and the Wrigley memorial, which is a short 45 minute hike, or more, depending on the pace you go and the places you visit along the way. We got distracted looking at the art of some houses and we also entered the Catalina Island conservatory where it gives you a brief description of the flora and fauna of the island. In order to get to the memorial you need to cross the Botanical Gardens and there is a small fee to enter, about 7 dollars if you are a student or have a student ID, which if I am being truthful, it is bit of a shame. The Gardens are not very impressive, and the majority are succulents (which to be fair, the island is pretty dry, therefore it is normal) and the memorial is actually charming, but a bit unprotected.
The Wrigley Memorial
Matt and I…pardon my appeareance :3 and this is the view from the second floor of the memorial
My friend John admiring rock design, somebody placed rocks in a spiral position which actually looked pretty cool
After our hiking expedition we proceeded towards downtown and decided to go to Catalina Island Brew House which is hands down the best joint on the Island. They have $6 beer flights and you may choose any craft beer, ranging from simple to sophisticated, they come in a group of 4 and complimentary bread. OK so the bread is AMAZING I would just get the flights for the bread…yum. We had such a good time, we drank good beer (by good beer I say good beer, I am not a beer drinker, I actually dislike it, but MAN were they good) and the bread…well you have to taste and see. That was the best part of the trip, we talked about world politics, history, jokes, memories, drank good beer, ate awesome bread and the view was gorgeous!
I am telling you…that bread! (Front-left is my frient Matt and front-right is John, back left is Liz and back-right is her boyfriend Sam)
After that we took the small walk to the Avalon Casino, which isn’t a casino, but a theater and unfortunately you need to be part of a tour to enter 😦
This is the tiny city
Overall the trip was relaxing and full of laughter, but if you want to have an exciting time I suggest taking the tours, go scuba diving, and the zip line…the beach is the tiniest beach in existence so in order to have an adventure you need to spend money. I was happy with just relaxing with my buddies at a new place.
For my UndocuTravelers: They don’t even check your ID upon entering the Island or returning to the Mainland, so tell yo mom, yo friends, yo neighbors to go and have a good time!
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