There are times we want just to get away from it all. We celebrated Tom’s recent birthday with an escape to the quaint and charming Catalina Island.
You are in for a treat if you travel to Catalina Island on your birthday. We started Tom’s birthday getaway to Catalina Island with a boat trip on Catalina Express leaving from Dana Point, CA. The 90-minute ride provided stunning views along the way. There is no better way to start the day than to witness a deep golden sunrise and countless dolphins swimming beside the boat. Catalina Island has two points of entry. Our destination, Avalon, is the main town. Two Harbors, a small village on the opposite side of the island, is the ideal jumping off point for exploring untouched beaches and remote camping.
Avalon feels distinctively different from any other town in Southern California. It is like stepping off a cruise ship and into a Caribbean or Mediterranean port. The picturesque scene boasts a lively town center and a bustling harbor teeming with boats, yachts, and all manner of watersports toys. A powdery-fine sandy beach lines the town’s coastline.
Avalon has a plethora of dining options from which to choose if you arrive hungry. Since it is a seaside place, we recommend sampling a seafood platter or fish tacos. Following our meal, we decided to explore the island on foot. Avalon is a small town, and it is very walkable. However, for those who wish to explore on four wheels, golf carts are available for rent at a very pricy $40 per hour (motor vehicles are extremely limited on the island). After walking around town with the sun high and the heat settling in, there’s nothing better than refueling with an ice cream cone (complimentary for the birthday boy)!
We are always ready for an adventure, and this was our first time parasailing. Catalina Island Parasail is a very safe and professional operation that offers complimentary flights for birthday guests. The excursion runs for about one hour in the Catalina harbor. There’s nothing better than motoring around the harbor and feeling the cool breeze of the ocean. Except, of course, for the real parasailing flight. Enjoy the most incredible view of the deep blue Pacific Ocean and the lovely Avalon harbor. We opted for the 800ft trip and are glad we chose the highest option. Now that we have parasailing under our belts, we are toying with the idea of skydiving!
Although Tom and I are divers, this trip we opted to explore the Catalina Island waters through snorkeling. We planned on joining a tour; however, the group assigned to the same guide as we were inexperienced. Instead, we chose to go off on our own to Lovers Cove, which is a quick 5-minute walk from the boat pier. Since the water was a chilly 71 degrees, we donned our 5mm wetsuit and went in. The kelp forest and rock reef attract a variety of marine life. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount and type of fish swimming around us. Just be careful when snorkeling here as many tour submarines and glass bottom boat motor in this area.
Catalina Island is a great place to escape from the fast-paced mainland. With loads of shops, restaurants, beaches, and activities, there is something to suit everyone’s wish. Our visit occurred on a busy summer Saturday. We would recommend trying to visit during the weekdays over the summer or in the fall or spring when there are fewer tourists. However, regardless of the time of year, be sure to go on your birthday.
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