The quaint, artsy, crafty island is open for tourism
by Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva
It offers touches of Portofino plus lots of quaintness. And, it’s a lot easier to reach these days. home. What’s more, the natives speak English. If you’re jonesing to sail to an island, Catalina is a good substitute. As of this writing Avalon, its main drag, which sits 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, is open for business.
The island is accessible by a comfy ride on the Catalina Express, which operates daily passenger ferry service from Long Beach. There’s also weekend service from Dana Point to Avalon and from San Pedro to both Two Harbors and Avalon. Don’t worry about social distancing. Only a few people may board at a time and everyone must wear a mask. Learn more about Catalina Express’ distancing procedures and robust cleaning protocols here
The mild climate on the island allows for year around activities such as bicycling, hiking, water sports and outdoor dining– of which there is plenty for every appetite. A list of all open restaurants can be found online here.
Bedding down deals
Here’s a few winter deals. A full listing can be found here. Each package includes round-trip boat transportation on Catalina Express. Even better, several Avalon hotels offer complimentary continental breakfast and/or wine and cheese hour.
Aurora Hotel– Offers a two-night overnight accommodations package with round-trip transportation on Catalina Express. You also get a tray service breakfast. This offer is good until March 5, 2021.
Hermosa Hotel caters to groups of all sizes with adjoining rooms, kitchenette units. It’s also dog friendly as well an ideal spot for guests who are scuba divers who enjoy free diver lockers. A package here includes one or two nights with a pair of Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden tickets. You also get a roundtrip on the Catalina Express.
Hotel Metropole sits smack in the center of Avalon just steps from the beach. If you can, book it for Valentine’s Day. It oozes with romance. Amenities include free WiFi and continental breakfast. One night deluxe rom package comes with roundtrip over the sea, and Champagne on arrival.
Snug Harbor Inn is a quaint, but stylish, six-room, luxury boasting a Cape Cod ambiance. They offer a one night deal with roundtrip transportation, a bottle of bubbly, room service continental breakfast and evening wine and hors d’oeuvres. Hard to beat this offer.
There really is much to do on the island from camping at Hermit Gulch to hiking, biking, paddle boarding and swimming (wear a wet suit).
I love strolling on the sand, in and out of the quaint shops and eating at the waterfront waterfronts.
When cruise ships operate along the California coast some include shore excursions to the island. The sea is crystal clear and the climate mild (but you do need a sweater or jacket in winter).
Catalina sports a casual, European style. It’s a fun place to visit anytime of the year.