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Catalina, Jason douglas Lewis, Dr. Jennifer Lewis


Catalina Island was surprisingly very awesome.  For such a small island, it has a lot to offer.

I liked the island a lot, but Jennifer felt weird about not being able to leave at night, like we really need to abruptly get out of town.  After the last ferry leaves, you’re pretty much there.  But other than that, she had a great time.  The island combines the small beach town feeling with nature experiences at sea and in the wilderness.   

One of the many cool things about Catalina is that from L.A., it’s extremely easy to get to.  Just drive down to Long Beach and hop on the Catalina Express.  The ferry ride is about an hour to the island, and getting from the dock to the hotel only took about 10 minutes.  From the time we left home until the time we got to the hotel was less than two hours, and it didn’t involve sitting in any traffic or dealing with the hassle of airports.

The main city, well, really the only city, in Catalina is Avalon.  It’s very small and quaint.  One rather usual but cool thing is that there is a restriction on cars.  Most people drive around in golf carts, which isn’t really a problem because the town is so small and the roads are pretty narrow.  

There are a number of reasonably priced hotels within a couple blocks of the beach.  We stayed at the Aurora Hotel, which is, like the rest of the island, small and quaint.  It was pretty nice though.  

There’s a boardwalk along Avalon Bay’s beach that has several restaurants and bars.  Some high end, some hole in the wall spots.  Most of them are pretty cool.  Like any island, fresh seafood is the main cuisine.  

Catalina, Avalon

Culturally, after only spending two days there, it was tough to see common themes.  It kind of seemed like a quirky, hodgepodge of restaurants and shops along the boardwalk.  We had casual meals at Luau Larry’s, which is a Hawaiian-inspired bar and restaurant that featured tropical drinks.  Later on we ate on the patio of Bluewater Avalon, which is more of a modern restaurant right on the water.  We also ate at what appeared to be a pirate-themed hole in the restaurant (I can’t remember the name of it or find it), and at the Lobster Trap.  I’m not the biggest seafood fan, but Jennifer really loves ahi tuna, so she had a lot of it.

We had dinner at the Avalon Grille, which is a sleek, high-end restaurant.  It may be the nicest restaurant on the island.

While Avalon seemed all over the place, it’s quirkiness was pretty cool.  And they had a cool art scene.  We went to the Catalina Island Museum, which showcases the island’s archaeological artifacts, and a historical timeline of how Avalon was developed over the last 100 or so years.  Avalon also has a few art shops.

Outside of Avalon, whether it’s on land or sea, Catalina is known for it’s wildlife.  The island is actually pretty massive, and most of it is in its undeveloped, natural state.  There are Jeep and Hummer tours that go into the remote, interior parts of the island, where people can see the North American bison, bald eagles, Catalina Island foxes, and other wildlife.  

In the ocean, there is snorkeling and scuba diving, a glass bottom boat voyage, and a dolphin and seal lion excursion, which is what we did.  We hopped on a small boat that went so far out into the ocean that we could no longer see the island or any land.  The heavy fog didn’t help visibility much.  But it was interesting seeing the ocean’s wildlife.  There’s also kayaking and Zip lining.

Sea lions near Catalina

Our trip to Catalina was also about relaxing.  On the final day we spent a few ours at the Island Spa Catalina.  Jennifer loves spas, so we did the couples massage and then had champagne and fruit in the outdoor Jacuzzi.

Dr. Jennifer Williams Lewis, Island Spa Catalina

I liked Catalina a lot, and I’m looking forward to going back.  I’d say that it’s great for a 2-3 day trip.  For anybody living in Southern California, don’t worry about seeing everything in one trip, because you can always go back. 


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