September 28, 2020

Visit Catalina Island, California

It's been a while since I put up a travel post, hasn't it? The last time I posted anything travel-related was in January, from last year's Girls Trip to Las Vegas. Funny enough, that was my first real holiday/trip without Coco - same as this trip. I am an advocate for taking time off from parenting once in a while, and focusing on just having fun sans kids. It can be tricky as a single mother, but I thank God for a great support system at home. Coco was with my cousin and her kids for the most part, and her father had her for a little bit. This post is pretty photo-heavy as Catalina is absolutely beautiful, but I will share a little bit about the trip.


I think it's very important to talk about traveling during these times. I won't lie, I had some anxiety about it. Not only were we going to be on a 4.5 hour flight (during which a mask is required at all times), but we were also flying to California which has been hit really hard by the number of cases/deaths. We flew Delta (our preferred airline - hang on, I should by shares in Delta o) and I'm glad that they have been adamant about keeping middle seats empty for the safety of passengers. We all wore our masks the entire time - and were provided with hand sanitizers, as well as pre-packaged flight snacks/water. On the ferry ride to the island via Catalina Express (we had Commodore seating), we were also required to wear masks and were pretty socially distanced from other passengers (aside from when my sister ran to help a lady who passed out). I never felt unsafe throughout our traveling experience and I think that the travel industry will rebound with time. 

I can tell you that before July, I had never heard of Catalina Island. My sister, Tammy, who you all should know by now, turned 30 this year. Her original plan was to go to Italy to commemorate the milestone birthday, but you know... the virus and all shut those plans down. I'm not even sure how she and my other sister Kiki found Catalina, but they really liked that it had that Mediterranean coast vibe and before you could say Jack Robinson, we (including my mum and brother) bought our flight tickets and booked our holiday residence. 

You can opt to book accommodation in a house or get a room in one of the 24 hotels in Avalon (the main area of town) or stay where we did - Hamilton Cove, which is a gated community a 5-minute golf-cart ride away from town. Hamilton Cove is GORGEOUS!!!!! You really get that Mediterranean seaside vibe. There's a pool, gym, tennis courts, beach, and other amenities at Hamilton Cove; however the pool, gym and I believe the tennis courts were closed due to the pandemic. Either way, our decision to stay here was the BEST DECISION EVER!

I didn't take photos of the apartment but we had a two-bedroom one that overlooked the water. Waking up to watch the sunrise and listen to the crashing waves is an experience I will treasure forever. 

BTW, the internet service on the island - no bueno. Even the wifi in the apartment we stayed in was pretty spotty. Something else that wasn't great was no AC, so we had to turn on the standing fans at night. I'm not sure if there's heating during the colder seasons - some apartments have fireplaces in the living room but you might need a portable heater. 

Its formal name is Santa Catalina Island and it is part of the California Channel Islands. It is 22 miles long and 8 miles wide, and the last census in 2010 put the number of residents at just over 4000 people. The island consists of 2 towns - Avalon and Two Harbors. It was first angled as a resort town after a businessman bought it in 1887. He opened the first hotel, Hotel Metropole, which still exists and is where my mum and I had our spa visit. In 1919, controlling interest of the island was bought by William Wrigley Jr (yup, the chewing gum magnate). He invested in infrastructure and helped make the island popular to the Hollywood elite. 

You can get to Catalina either by ferry, private boat, helicopter or private plane. On the island itself, transportation is restricted to walking, biking or driving golf carts. The island allows only a limited number of registered cars and there is a 14-year wait list to bring a car to the island!

This next fact might not be fun to you, but it was to me - tile making was a big thing on the island from the late 1920's to the 1930s. While walking through Avalon, there are pretty tiles everywhere! My siblings got tired of me pointing out the tiles - it was just really fascinating to me! 

Catalina has a lot of exciting activities for the adventurous traveler. Because it's right by the Pacific Ocean, many of those activities are water-based from jet-skiing to parasailing (one of my dream activities) to sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and so much more. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the sailing companies were closed and we weren't able to rent a yacht like we originally planned. We ended up going jet-skiing on Saturday morning.

There are also land-based activities as well including hiking, zip-lining, walking tours, food/wine tours, etc. My siblings went on a [joyride] bison tour (you can book here) and they had such an awesome time). I chose to go to the spa with my mum instead of the bison tour - I wasn't interested in seeing bison and wanted to be able to relax. Our spa date was at a Touch of Heaven spa, and we both had facials and massages. It wasn't the absolute best spa experience I've had to be honest, and I'm still crying from the bill - we spent an hour more than I originally intended and I really should have confirmed with them BEFORE our treatments started (lesson learned). You can check out the museums, art galleries, shops and more if you're so inclined. There's also a botanical garden that none of us was really interested in, but if that's your thing, go for it!

Apart from the jetskiing outing, my most favorite time was at Descanso Beach Club. We rented a cabana ($XXX) and chilled for about 5 hours. The drinks and light food we had were fantastic, and I highly recommend you stop by Descanso. My brother (Sam), Tammy and I went over to the side to take some photos by the rocks. I might frame one of my photos one day. 

Unfortunately I don't have photos of everything we ate, but I'll share the list of places that I really enjoyed getting food from:
  • Mrs T's Bakery and Chinese Cuisine - Get freshly made beignets early in the morning.
  • Lloyd's Confectionery - I absolutely loved the Coconut Croissant and Bear Claw as well.
  • Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co - Go early, because there is ALWAYS a line. Even at 7:30am on a Monday morning. My preferred beverage was a combination of their Mocha and Coffee Toffee Crunch blended drink. 
  • Scoops - We got crepes which were absolutely delicious, as well as French Brioche Ice Cream Paninis that surprisingly worked! They are also authorized to sell Starbucks on the island. There is almost always a lin as well. 
  • El Galleon - We didn't plan to eat there, but make sure you get the Firecracker Shrimp!!!
  • Bluewater Grill - I totally enjoyed the Cioppino I ordered. I did NOT enjoy the almost-3 hour wait for a table.
  • Steve's Steakhouse - It's a fine dining restaurant and I think the first one to open after being shut down due to the pandemic. They got tables on the beach and other restaurants followed suit. I ordered the Seafood Kabob which was alright. 

All in all, we had an absolutely marvelous time on our vacation! I can see the entire family (with kids and my dad) heading there for another vacation in the coming years. 

I hope you liked this post. I enjoyed putting it together and I really would like to get back to blogging regularly. Here's hoping!


  1. Oh my - absolutely stunning!!! Catalina is for the gods!!

  2. Wow, looks amazing. The island is on our list of places to visit and seeing this moves it up for me

  3. This island looks stunning! Definitely getting Meditarranean vibes.


  4. Oh wow, so beautiful. I almost can't believe somewhere this gorge is in this same America lmao


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