Welcome to my Catalina Island- Day Itinerary post! Let’s start with how we got to the island- with Catalina being an island, it requires you to travel there via boat or helicopter. The primary mode of transportation being the more convenient since there are multiple docks and sail times off the Southern California coast. Boats to Catalina sail from Dana Point, Newport Beach, or Long Beach. Our boat happened to set sail from Newport Beach, with a check in time of 8:30 am, departing at 9:00 am. That happened to be the first available boat out- which we wanted, to get to the island as soon as possible to take advantage of the entire day.
The boat ride over is an hour long and by the time we got off the boat, got our luggage, and were physically on the island, it was 10:40 am. We went straight to our hotel, the Pavilion Hotel, to see if we could check in early (normal check-in is 3 pm), unfortunately, because of that we were unable too, but the concierge checked our bags for us, which meant we could get our day started without carrying our luggage around, which was awesome!
With our bags off our hands, we walked the entirety of the boardwalk to acquaint ourselves with our new home for the weekend. The island is not very big, so the entire thing is completely walkable! Fun fact, aside from the tour companies and a few businesses, cars are not allowed on the island. Locals all drive golf carts around and if you’re in need of transportation, you can also rent a golf cart to get around. It’s for sure the most popular way of traveling around the island.
After walking around and snapping some photos, we decided to find somewhere to eat lunch and map out our day. We ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant called Mi Casita, they have the absolute best horchata if you’re a fan! We looked up some tours and information that our hotel gave us and created our day one itinerary, which went as follows:
Catalina Island Day 1:
*Arrive on island around 11:00 am// Head to hotel, drop off bags and walk the island.
*Head to lunch at Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant around 12:00 pm.
2:00pm Check in at the Avalon Casino for the 2:30 pm tour. The tour was actually complimentary with our hotel, but is otherwise $19.95 per ticket. The Casino hosts two tours an 11:45 am and 2:30 pm tour everyday. I’m going to piece together a separate post detailing all the history behind the Casino, so stay tuned for that! The tour lasts an hour, during which you’ll learn a lot about the island and be able to take some amazing photos that you wouldn’t get otherwise. The Casino is not open to the public, so without a ticket to a tour, you cannot get inside.
3:45pm Check back at the hotel to see if our room is ready. The room was ready and the bell hop brought our bags right in! We checked out room and immediately fell in love. We had to hurry out rather quickly for tour #2 though!
4:00 pm Check in at Catalina Undersea Expedition for the 4:15pm tour. The Pavilion hotel is located right on the beach and literally 2 minutes from the pier where all the boat tours launch, so it was a very short walk over. This tour is a submarine tour of the bay! It lasts 45 minutes and is definitely something I’d recommend for anyone traveling the island. It’s a very unique and special experience to be able to say you’ve been in a submarine. It’s also one of the most amazing things EVER to see the coral, seaweed, and fish in their natural habitat. It was so much fun. Tickets are $43 per person but with our hotel, we got 10% off ticket prices! You can learn more about the tours here!
5:15 pm exit the submarine and head over to the complimentary wine tasting at the hotel. On the weekends, the Pavilion hotel hosts a complimentary wine tasting hour from 4:30 pm -5:30 pm, complete with cheese and bread to pair with the wine!
6:00 pm Change and head out for dinner at the Bluewater Grill! I absolutely love seafood so we knew that we’d have dinner at a restaurant on the water. We’d heard good things about the restaurant and there was a ton of people waiting to be seated when we arrived. We got seated right away because we were open to sitting outside on the deck, it was rather cold out once the sun went down but with a heater and some extra layers that Joey and I had thrown on, it was totally fine.
7:30 pm Head over to Llyod’s of Avalon for some late night snacks and dessert! We ended up getting a box of different flavored fudges and all were delicious! There’s something super nostalgic about walking into a old fashioned candy shop so Joey and I always make a point to visit them wherever we travel.
8:00 pm Cozy up and jump in bed! It was a pretty long day so we were both tired by the end of the day for sure, not to mention that everything in Catalina closes around 8/9pm. We ended up watching the end of the NBA dunking contest and then put on a movie to end the night.
Day 1 was such an amazing day, we both fell in love with the island completely and were SO excited to see more on Day 2! Stay tuned for the next post detailing our second day on the island!
What a busy day! I’m curious-with the island being so small, do you feel it was very touristy or did you feel like you were surrounded by locals?
When I was in high school, a friend of mine’s parents had a beach cottage in a place that sounds quite similar to Catalina. It’s called Colonial Beach and it’s located on the Chesapeake. There are a handful of little mom and pop shops and eateries and everyone drives golf carts around there too. We would go out there pretty regularly just to get away. I loved the laid back atmosphere of it.
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It was such a good day! I’d say it was a pretty even split as far as locals and tourists go. Where the docks are, where the boats come in, it definitely feels pretty touristy because they have all the information booths set up to give out tour info , where to stay, what to do etc. But once you’re away from the docking area, it feels a lot less touristy. Of course you see tons of people walking around, but in Catalina only the portion of Avalon Bay is inhabited. The rest of the island is a reservation for the local wildlife. So there isn’t anywhere else for people to live, it’s a very small and secluded area. The tour guide of the casino told us that legally, no-one can build property anywhere on the island, other than where buildings already stand. It’s pretty unique in that way.
That sounds so similar to Catalina! Yea, there’s no chain restaurants or anything on Catalina, they’re all mom and pop shops, just like the place you’re describing!
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[…] Welcome to Day II of our Catalina Weekend! If you’ve missed Day I, you can catch up by clicking this link here! […]
That’s so cute that most people use golf carts as transportation & the dinner outside on the water sounds so romantic. I love seafood!
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You would love it there girl! The golf carts were so funny driving around!
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