I arrived at the Long Beach location of the Catalina Express armed with my overnight bag and lots of excitement about exploring Catalina Island. I was looking forward to spending time discovering some of the highlights this terrific destination has to offer and my visit exceeded expectations.The boat ride is approximately an hour and passengers can be seated inside or out on the deck. It is a smooth and relaxing ride over. Some people brought bikes, camping supplies and hiking gear because there is an abundance of beautiful outdoor fun to enjoy on Catalina.
Once docked in port, I collected my suitcase and walked through town to Hotel Atwater. Hotel Atwater was originally built in 1920 and has a rich history as William Wrigley, the owner of The Catalina Island Company made this his first project. In 2019, a renovation was completed that retained the nostalgic ambience while finding a casual elegance. The location is ideal and the staff is warm and welcoming.
Something I love about this destination is that everything is walkable. If once needs to travel further than an easy walk, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation and can be rented close to where the Catalina Express is located. There are a number of restaurants and shops in the harbor creating a quaint .There are so many dining options to choose from and since my visit was during a Covid restricted period all of them were outdoors. This was a lovely way to enjoy a meal seated right on the sand. The ice cream and candy shops seemed to be one of the most popular places on the island.
I am an adrenaline junkie so I was very excited for my adventure at The Catalina Zip-line Ecotour. This awesome two hour experience is located at the Descano Beach Club, a short walk from The Hotel Atwater past the world famous Catalina Casino. After getting into a harness and helmet, the guides conducted a safety briefing and I boarded a bus to the top of the island taking in beautiful views and the opportunity to observe so much wildlife. Once we arrived at the top. the guide secured me to the cable and my zip-lining began. There were five separate lines that soared through majestic scenery and ocean views. It was a spectacular way to see Catalina from a very unique perspective.
Once I was safely back from my super stimulating adventure it was time to learn about some indigenous birds with The Catalina Falconry Experience. It was really cool and informative to get so close to these birds of prey. I had the opportunity to put on a protective glove and participate in “being a falconer” and have one of these powerful creatures fly right to my arm.
Wildlife is abundant on Catalina Island . I caught glimpses of bison, deer and foxes during my time there. Although I did not actually take a jeep safari or get up onto the trails, these seemed like terrific ways to see all of it.Catalina is just 26 miles off the coast of Southern California, yet it feels like another world. It is easy to get there and easy to navigate once you are on the island. I am looking forward to my next visit where I can discover even more.