Catalina Island is the perfect weekend retreat for the Angeleno who wants to get away from it all. Just an hour’s ferry ride away from Long Beach Harbor, the idyllic locale is a great recipe for relaxation with its plethora of restaurants, hikes and sleepy charm. Though picturesque, the island also has incredibly wealthy roots since chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought out shareholders for controlling interest of the Santa Catalina Island Company back in 1919. From 1921 until 1951 the Wrigley-owned Chicago Cubs used the island as their spring training spot of choice. The family still owns the island today, though has generously given 90% of its mass to the Catalina Island Conservatory.
Regardless of its storied history, there’s a plethora to do during the year here, from wine, art and film festivals to gourmet dining to boating in the waters of the Pacific.
Here is a guide to how to have a haute time on Catalina Island.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel over renting your own beachside bungalow, remember that Catalina and its main town, Avalon, are extremely small. There are 20 options for overnight stays, the best of which are the Hotel Vista Del Mar and the newly renovated Pavillion Hotel. There are only 15 rooms in the former, so book early in you’re seeking ocean views and a double whirlpool jacuzzi. Conversely, the Pavillion is a bit like your own personal garden of Eden. It’s a minute’s walk from the ocean, yet you’ll be tucked away in your own private bungalow for complete privacy, should you need it.
Edible delights await you at the Avalon Grille, Catalina’s only true upscale eatery. It’s still relaxed, but Chef Paul Hancock has turned his eatery into a glamorous evening destination for cocktails, Filet Mignon and Cioppino. A second option is the newly opened Bluewater Avalon, an eatery where seafood is your best option. Sip champagne, down oysters and watch the sun set from a prime location right over the ocean.
If you’re heading to Catalina for some fun in the sun, you’ll need to book yourself one of the new Presidential Cabanas at the Descanso Beach Club, where you won’t have to lift even a finger: hosts will cater to your every whim. Conversely, you can also go 18 holes at the Catalina Golf Club or, if you’re lucky, get a member to host you at the exclusive Tuna Club.
HOW TO GET THERE
The best option for those who wish to do so is to travel by private helicopter via the Island Express Helicopter Service, though if you’d rather get your sea legs, book yourself into the Commodore Lounge on the Catalina Express ferry, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.