A Day In Catalina
Despite what the classic song told you, Catalina is actually only 22 miles from the coast of California, making it the ultimate day-trip for busied Angelenos. The Four Preps may have mistaken the distance, but they weren’t kidding when they characterized it as the island of “romance, romance, romance, romance”.
After hearing too many glowing reviews, I had added a voyage to the Mediterranean- flavoured island to my summer wishlist. So, early Friday morning Tristan and I found ourselves aboard the Catalina Express from Long Beach to Avalon. The boat trip takes a little over an hour and tickets are slightly pricey at $37.25 each way, but unless you want to splurge and helicopter your way over there, it is your best option.
Pro Tips: 1) There is no reason to upgrade to the Commodore Lounge. 2) Pick up the Catalina Magazine and spend the majority of the ride comparing homes with your travel companions.
As we had decided not to spend the night on the island, we took an early morning boat in order to ensure we had as much time as possible to explore. We were up, caffeinated, and on the island by 8:30am.
I was giddy with excitement. The island, on the other hand, had yet to wake up; its mediterranean charm further enhanced by its sleepiness. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t in southern Italy. Tristan couldn’t believe the line for The Pancake Cottage. After surveying the rest of our options we concluded there was a reason the whole island was in one location and took our place at the back of the queue. An hour later, with full tanks of omelettes, bacon, and hashbrowns, we set off for our first battle of the day: air-hockey in the arcade.
I was not victorious. Nor was I victorious in the subsequent miniature golf game. Although the idyllic garden setting and the facts about Catalina scattered throughout kept me distracted enough from my far over-par performance. Would certainly recommend a friendly match to begin your day and to ensure you fully immerse yourself in the serene vibe of the island.
After unsuccessfully attempting to rent a golf-cart (you have to be 25!), we instead chose to celebrate the onset of a new weekend with our own boating adventure. The first arduous task was to stock up on this summer’s limited edition Brut Classic Chandon and not much else. It was burdensome, but someone had to do it. With the liquids sorted, we were merely lacking a yacht.
Joe’s Rent-A-Boat helped us out in that regard. Okay, okay it wasn’t exactly a yacht. But considering the salesman was hilarious, the rates can’t be beaten, and nothing feels better than being in the open sea —this is my *must do* in Catalina. For $60 an hour (and if you go over you only pay for the portion of the next hour you used instead of having to pay a whole new hour), the two of us bobbed around the ocean in total bliss.
A long series of those pinch-myself-how-is-life-this-wonderful moments.
I allowed Tristan to be captain aka commander of the donuts, so that I could lounge at the bow. The perfect seat to drink my sparkling wine and embrace my inner Marilyn Monroe (who used to reside on the island).
We giggled lots and I got that phenomenal type of silly tipsy from two glasses of Chandon and too much sun.
And if someone had suggested that I remained on the Mediterranean-esque island for the rest of time, I wouldn’t have been too disappointed.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent on shore testing out various cocktails and walking hand-in-hand along the promenade. Contrary to when we had first arrived, by afternoon the Descanso Beach Club was filled with people sunning themselves and playing in the ocean. Yet despite the crowds we managed to find a couple of seats at the bar to watch the sunset and plot our next adventures.
No plotting of adventures is complete without gin, so we opted for a couple of Hendrick’s Coolers (Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, lemon sour, lemonade), which at $14 were great for a sunset round, but I would recommend quickly moving on to find cheaper drinks with a less picturesque view.
Cheaper drinks are found at Luau Larry’s on the main street. If you want to look like me below, ridiculous hat and all, the only thing required of you is to drink a Wiki Wacker. Any drink whose slogan is “one Wiki Wacker and you will leave here with your Wiki Wacked” is unfortunately rather appealing to me.
Plus the promise of a ridiculous hat is too much for me to withstand. Pro tip: If your drink arrives while you are in the powder room and your boyfriend precedes to tell you that you first need to finish the drink and then stand up and make a scene in the bar to retrieve your hat. Don’t listen to him, the hat and drink come as one.
The drink is not the best tasting, but it did make me even smilier than usual.
We spent the remainder of the evening eating ice-cream at Big Olaf’s, winning temporary tattoos in the arcade, and just generally being infatuated with the simplicities of island life.
Photos by Tristan Marsh and I.