Locals Love: Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island, most often referred to as ‘Catalina Island’ or just ‘Catalina’, is a rocky island off the coast of Long Beach. The islandAvalon is 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its greatest width. Fun facts: the Chicago Cubs trained on Catalina Island from 1921 to 1951 and Avalon’s golf course was first built in 1892, making it the oldest course in Southern California. If you are wondering where to stay and what to do while you are there, we can help with some ideas.

Popular activities: Enjoy the beach and numerous water activities, zip line eco tour, Cape Cod Canyon expedition, helicopter tour, undersea expedition, Airport in the Sky, miniature golf (hardest course you will ever play), Avalon scenic tour and the Avalon Theater. The list goes on to include the Casino which is a 12-story high architectural wonder that epitomizes everything glamorous about Catalina Harry, Lilly and JC on the Trans-Catalina TrailIsland. And the grand-daddy of all activities is the Trans-Catalina Trail; 37.8 miles that features huge ascents and descents while taking you from the beautiful shores of Avalon on the east end of the island to rugged Starlight Beach on the west end. You need a permit from the Catalina Island Conservancy to hike the trail; the permit is free and the wildlife and views from the trail are truly amazing.

Where to stay:  Catalina Island has more than 80 beach house rentals from California Island Vacation Rentals (CIVR), Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) and other companies. They also have fabulous resort-style hotels like Hotel Mac Rae, Snug Harbor Inn, Hotel Metropole, Pavilion Hotel, Portofino Hotel, Holiday Inn Resort Catalina Island and Hotel Vista Del Mar.John with American Bison about 20 feet away

American Bison, also called Buffalo, roam Catalina and were first imported in 1924 for Zane Grey‘s western film, The Vanishing American. We mention this because the island has its own specialty drink called ‘Buffalo Milk’. Locals liken it to “a white Russian gone island crazy.” Here’s one Lilly and JC drinking Buffalo Milk cocktailversion of the recipe served in a hurricane glass: half shot creme de cocoa (dark or light), half shot kalua, half shot creme de banana, one shot vodka. Fill rest with half and half, ice and blend. Top with whip cream, sprinkle with nutmeg and a couple slices of banana. To make it a ‘Buffalo Bowl’, add a floater (half shot) of patron cafe.

The Beach Team and Locals Love many things about Catalina Island. Tell us about your experiences on Catalina and what you like best about the island.

Article prepared by John Rudy, Realtor®, Coldwell Banker Coastal Alliance: 562-940-5440 – john@mybeachteam.com

Locals Love: Catalina Express

Did you know Catalina Island is only about an hour away by boat? Why spend a lot of money and all day traveling to an island for vacation when we have a great island just a short distance away. The Catalina Express provides year-round boat service to Catalina Island. We take it from downtown Long Beach, but you can also take it from San Pedro to the cities of Avalon and Two Harbors. Cost is reasonable at less than $75 for a standard round trip. You can upgrade your ticket to the Commodore’s Lounge or Captain’s Lounge for an additional fee.

More than one million passengers set sail annually on board the Catalina Express fleet of eight boats. Since the Catalina Express first set sail in 1981 with one 60-passenger boat, 30 million passengers have used this service.

Catalina Express operates the fastest, most comfortable vessels to Catalina Island, featuring sleek fiberglass hulls, state-of-the-art stabilizers that smooth out 90 percent of the roll, and high-tech navigational equipment and radio communications systems for safe channel crossing. For these reasons, Catalina Express is one of the world’s most respected ferry fleets.

If you are one to get nauseous from riding in a boat, take an OTC drug like Dramamine 30 minutes before the trip or use a skin patch that is often applied behind the ear. Check with a doctor if you have concerns about the safety of the drugs. Other tips: face the direction you are traveling, keep your eyes on the horizon, snack on crackers or purchase acupressure bands to go on your wrists. The good news is that most people won’t need any of this because the boat rides are relatively smooth.

26 miles across the sea

Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me

Santa Catalina, the island of romance.”

-Lyrics from hit song 26 Miles by the Four Preps. It reached #2 on Billboard charts in 1958.-


We encourage you to go for a day, a weekend or longer and enjoy the magic of Catalina Island. Discover why the Beach Team and Locals Love to get there via Catalina Express.




Article prepared by John Rudy, Realtor®, Coldwell Banker Coastal Alliance: 562-940-5440 – john@mybeachteam.com