Take Me To Catalina Island
For my 24th birthday this year, I decided to treat myself Donna Meagle Style and travel across water to visit Catalina Island. My boyfriend and I had been talking about this kind of trip for an entire year, but in order for us to truly get our sh*t together, I knew we needed some sort of commitment; a really really good reason to go. And because I'm a planner of all things, I made a three-month-early reservation at the Descanso Beach Club for a couple of their all-inclusive chaise lounge chairs. Treat. Yo. Self.
I went into the trip thinking, *we don't need a plan, we don't need a plan, we don't need a plan. It's better to be spontaneous than prepared.* I have since learned that there's a big difference between living by a schedule and being prepared. So if you're looking for resort island living on the budget of a 24 year old, here's what you need to do.
There are four total ferry locations you can leave from: Dana Point, Newport Beach, Long Beach, and San Pedro. Go here the day before your trip and write down all of the scheduled ferry times, just in case. If you're running a little behind schedule, there's a back up plan at your fingertips.
Be prepared to walk. Catalina is a very small island, so either the cars are very small, or they're limited in accessibility. You have the option to rent a golf cart, but to be honest, I loved walking. I felt like I noticed so much more just by walking around and stopping to take pictures. And if you need a time reference, it took my boyfriend and I about 15 minutes to walk from the ferry to the beach club.
JK. That's a total joke for an over-packer like me. You should also make sure to have your cellphone, wallet, sand-proof shoes, a change of clothes, and some dramamine for the boat ride. I kept my clothes down at the bottom of my Kaya Backpack, the sunscreen and meds in the zippered pocket, and everything else was either on my body, or in my Travel Wallet.
The Descanso Beach Club Rentals are a must, must, must. When you've just gotten off of a somewhat smelly ferry, with a few screaming children and sneezing adults, it's a great feeling to be able to walk up to the club to a pair of beautiful, comfortable and exclusive lounge chairs (or cabanas) five feet from the water.
Not only do you get exclusive access to servers that will bring food and drinks right to your chair, you get a (seasonal) smoothie upon arrival, a few seagull shoo-ers, fresh towels, a couple of cold water bottles, and a view that is so pure and clear, it actually made me cry.
Once you get around the Avalon Theater and Casino, you'll begin to see the white cabanas, the beautiful white chairs, and the turquoise blue waters. The view from the club looks directly out over the water, but each and every direction you turn has something beautiful to look at.
PSA : Start the day by styling your hair into your easiest up-do. The wind can be absolutely brutal regardless of where you are on the island, so make that one less thing to worry about.
Photo moments have always been a very weird concept to me. How do you capture a moment while still being in it? How do you fight off uninvited drunk people posing for the camera? How do you get that 5-star photo if your boyfriend isn't a fashion photographer?
What I learned is that you can't be looking for it. Give yourself some time to walk around, see something beautiful and make something out of it. I tried ALL DAY to get the perfect island life photo, but after failing multiple times, I walked back toward the ferry feeling completely dejected and insecure.
These photos were taken at 5:30pm right in front of the Avalon Casino & Theater. I just happened to look up from my internal pity-party, saw the sunset creeping in, and immediately felt myself in the moment.
Whether you stay on the island for a weekend, a night or a day, it's an incredibly beautiful and historic place to be. As the day starts winding down, be mindful that not everyone who works on the island lives on the island, so the local shops are going to start closing down before 6:00 to catch the evening ferry home. If you're staying on the island a little later and are looking for a place to eat past 6:00, here are a few local tourist favorites:
Unless your ferry ticket has a specific departure time on it, just enjoy yourself and take your time. Every little nook and cranny on the island is like a secret hiding place of something beautiful. But if you don't do anything else I've mentioned in this post, please do this: stay until sunset. The perfect end to this perfect day is watching the sun set behind the island. Every tropical element comes to life; the water looks like glitter, the palm trees create beautiful silhouettes everywhere, and the sky goes from fire to cotton candy as you board your ferry to go home.
Final Cost Breakdown
Day trip from 9:00am to 7:30pm
Ferry for 2 (round trip) = $147
Descanso Chair Rentals for 2 = $90
Food and Drink for 2 (lunch and dinner) = $68
Total = $305
I have to give credit to my wonderful boyfriend, Brandon, for taking all of this content for me and with me. Thank you for your patience and love.