Escape to Catalina Island

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Just an hour ferry ride west from Newport Beach lies an island destined for relaxation. Catalina is technically known as Avalon, California, and offers just as much sunshine as any southern coast in California. Although the island is only 22 miles long and can be driven around in less than a day, there is much to appreciate and learn during your stay. From luxury hotels, oceanfront restaurants, and authentic store fronts, the Catalina Harbor provides a unique vacation.

Where to stay:

Hotel Villa Portofino
This romantic hotel sits at the end of the harbor, away from the boardwalk noise, but close enough to touch the Pacific Ocean. An outdoor restaurant downstairs has an oceanfront view, making you feel like you could be in Portofino, Italy. The hotel is steps away from the legendary Catalina Casino and walking distance from the relaxing Descanso Beach. A pretty rooftop deck with cabanas overlooks the harbor and crystal clear ocean.

Hotel St. Lauren
This vintage, chic hotel cannot be missed when walking up Beacon Street, even if you don’t plan a stay. The pink hotel with a pink golf cart in front is the sweetest touch to the island. The interior decor of the lobby relives the art deco architecture with marble ceilings. The rooftop lounge’s gorgeous view of Catalina’s harbor and hills are worth a visit. The location is a block away from the harbor and near the small neighborhood or unique beach homes.

Hotel Metropole
This hotel doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to treating their guests to luxury and relaxation. Daily classes are offered to guests for free, such as morning yoga. A rooftop jacuzzi and view is the perfect place to wind down and relax. The location is at the very end of the harbor but close enough to walk to the Casino and Descanso Beach. The best part is the plaza located in the backyard of the hotel, where you can enjoy shops, markets, and galleries.

Things to do:

Unwind at Descanso Beach
About a 10-minute walk past the Casino along past the harbor is a quiet but extravagant beach. You can sit under a cabana ocean front while waiters serve you tropical drinks and delicious seafood. Water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling are encouraged. If you’re the adventurous type, just behind the palm trees and cabanas is a zip-line course, where you can glide through the wilderness of Catalina for 2 hours.

Rejuvenate at Island Spa
Even though you already escaped from the hustle of Los Angeles and Newport, why not escape the hustle of a quiet island? The ocean view deck is worth a facial or back massage alone. Every amenity a luxurious spa could offer is right at your fingertips.

Tour the Catalina Casino
The historical landmark is the first thing you will notice when arriving at the island. The beautiful red roof, colorful flags, and art deco paintings make this piece of architecture one of a kind. Owned by William Wrigley, the casino originated as a dancehall and high school in 1919, until the school became too small to fulfill the growing population of the island. In 1928, the dancehall/casino then became a movie theater designed to have sound. For the record, don’t be fooled by the term casino. The reference of a casino to describe the Catalina landmark derives from the Italian root ‘gather’. There is no past or current gambling associated. Tours of the casino ballroom, art, theater are available.

Rent a Golf Cart
One of the most interesting aspects of Catalina is the use of cars. There isn’t any. Being so close but secluded from Los Angeles, you would think there would be. Locals and natives of the island use golf carts to commute. You can have the same experience! You can rent one for an hour, which allows enough time to view the harbor while cruising through the hilltops, where you get a spectacular view.

From the history to the water sports to the beach life, Catalina Island offers a perfect vacation getaway from Los Angeles and Orange County. One may even feel they are in a different country! Happy and safe travels.