Like that old song goes, “26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina Island is the place for me”. While the Island is known to be the Island of romance, it is also the perfect place for family trips. This year marked the 31st year my husband and his family have been coming to Catalina Island. After all, who wouldn’t want to return to the nostalgia of it all. This family has truly made their imprint on the Island and each person carries with them their own memories. For me, It’s like having 5+ Catalina tour guides. So, here I am, initiated into a family of annual Catalina goers. This was my fifth trip with the family to the Island. But even if you have never been, Catalina offers a history of it’s own that is truly worth exploring. For a list of neat facts about the island, click here.
Vacation Home rented on VRBO
My mother in law and her best friend Carmen have been surprising the family with a vacation rental every year. Sometimes the same, sometimes new. This year they rented this beach cottage close to the main street called the “Summer Love Cottage” – only 3 blocks from the beach, shops and restaurants. Its roof top deck was a great place for us to enjoy our meals, socialize and enjoy the ocean breeze. The point is, there are alternatives to staying in Hotels when you are visiting with your family. Sites like VRBO and Airbnb make it feasible to find your ideal vacation home.
A Stroll Into the Heart of Catalina Island, Avalon
One of the first things we do when we arrive on the island is set down our beach chairs in the sand and head for a stroll down Avalon. This area of Catalina Island is lined with restaurants, bars, shops and more! Lots to see and lots to do.
A few of my favorites:
Ice Cream at Big Olafs, Karaoke at El Galleon, Ahi Tuna at the Blue Water Grill, Drinks at Luau Larry’s – home of the famous Wicky Wacker (this drink gets you a free straw hat), and Happy Hour at the Avalon Grill.
Big Olafs and a Complimentary Shuttle Ride to Descanso Beach
If you are frugal fancy like us, don’t miss out on the free shuttle ride to Descanso Beach. The walk is not too far from Avalon, but we love the shuttle when we grow tired of walking back and forth. Aside from that, the shuttles are a ton of fun. The drivers play island music and know how to get you in the vacation mode. Don’t forget to tip. We want to keep these guys as happy as they are!
Welcome to Descanso Beach Club!
Ahhh, my favorite part of Catalina Island. There is nothing better than relaxing on Descanso Beach and embracing Island time. Enjoy a cocktail at the Descanso bar, listen to the live DJs/musicians and other music on the beach, snorkel in the blue/green water, layout and read on the beach, play sports on the grass, zip line with ocean views, grab a floatie at the descanso shop, kayak around the island, sea trek on the ocean floor, the list is endless.
Catalina Island Views
Some of the best views are on the top of the hills on Catalina Island. My favorite island viewpoints are from the top of Hamilton Cove, the top of the hill near Wrigley Mansion and at the top of the Hermit’s Gulch trail.
Golf Cart City
One of the best ways to get around the island is by golf cart. It’s a great way to navigate your way around the island and to less known places such as the Wrigley Botanical Gardens, the Catalina Country Club, the Buffalo Nickel restaurant near the Helicopter landing area and the pet cemetery – strange but not fiction. Pets are peacefully laid to rest in a peaceful shady area near the Wrigley Mansion. Unique dedicated headstones exemplify the love the owners had for their pets.
The Flying Fish Tour
One of my favorite tours is the flying fish tour. Many don’t know that Catalina is home to some of the world’s largest flying fish. And yes, it’s true, Catalina’s fish really do fly. But you have to see it to believe it. Board the open-deck Blanche W for a night time tour. The searchlights on the boat spotlight the ocean and hundreds of flying fish can be spotted gliding across the sea. In fact, many decide to board the boat with you. This time around, one of the passengers on our boat caught a fish. The Blanch W. is a 1920s wooden boat from the world war one era. An interesting and fun tour to say the least.
(Great book I read on the Island. Highly recommend the 4-Hour Workweek)
(Loving these pool floats. The big round donut was definitely a hit on the Island)
I hope you enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more travel tips on frugalfancyfit.com. Have any additional tips on Catalina Island? Please feel free to share in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.
Melody & Trevor