Catalina is for lovers

Actually, Catalina Island is for all types: lovers, haters, fighters, etc. What kind of headline is that, though?

Anyway, Catalina is about 22 miles offshore from Los Angeles. It’s accessibility makes it an easy weekend destination for about a gazillion people.

Getting there

You have a few options when it comes to getting to Catalina.  You can buy a ticket and take a boat from Dana Point, Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, or Marina Del Rey.

Or you can hire a helicopter. Or fly your plane to the Airport in the Sky. Or swim.

The latter three options would boost your “lover” status instantly.

The boats will take you to either Avalon or Two Harbors. Most people go to Avalon, but Two Harbors has its moments.

Things to do

This is but a small sample of activities on Catalina.

1. Snorkel: I love snorkeling. I used to snorkel in our small backyard pool when I was a kid, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Look mom, I’m totally breathing underwater right now!

Turns out snorkeling in the ocean off an island is even better.

There are a number of quality places to snorkel around the island. The easiest places to access are in Two Harbors and Avalon. The Lover’s Cove Undersea Gardens, just south of Avalon, is a protected marine sanctuary, and is a great place to start.

And obviously, if you’re dive certified, the diving is just as good.

I'm a snorkeling fool!

2. Kayak: Ocean kayaking in Catalina is easier than most places because there is little to no surf to deal with on much of the island, especially near Avalon. Put in, paddle out, and take your time exploring the coastline.

I’ve heard of people getting bumped off their boats by great white sharks.  That would be interesting, eh?

See, I told you Catalina is for lovers.

3. Hike: The hiking isn’t spectacular, but it’s still fun.  There are a lot of nice vantage points along any given trail.

The 37-mile Trans Catalina Trail takes you from one end of the island to the other.

Camping is available on the island if you plan ahead.

Be sure to pick up your hiking permit from the Catalina Island Conservancy. Otherwise, they’ll send the bison after you (see No. 9).

4. Rent a golf cart: A rental golf cart on Catalina is perhaps the ultimate telltale sign of a tourist. But who cares? Whipping around the island on a cart is a fun way to explore Catalina.

5. Fish: There are plenty of fish in the sea, as the old saying goes. But if we’re talking about real fish, there are plenty of those, too.

Fish from shore, or rent a skiff from the Two Harbors Dive & Recreation Center.

There are also a few fishing charter companies to choose from. They’ll show you where the fish are hiding out.

6. Go on the semi-sub tour: The semi-sub doesn’t go far, and as its name implies, it doesn’t even get completely submerged. But come on, how many times in the past year have you cruised the ocean in a sub?

(If you’re the one guy in the Navy reading this and you just got home for a nuclear sub deployment, give me a break, pal.)

For a few extra bucks, you can fire a food torpedo at the fish. Sit back and enjoy the frenzy. Food torpedo, people.

7. Dress up like Jimmy Buffett and sign autographs: It would work.

Golf cart with a view.

8. Run a marathon:  The Catalina Eco Marathon looks brutal.  We only did the 10K version. The first half was all uphill. The second half was downhill on a dirt trail. Challenging, and highly recommended.

We saw marathon runners limping across the finish line, full of dirt and sweat,  looking like they were about to die. Good times.

9. Find the bison: Bison made their way to the island by swimming underwater on one breath for the entire duration of the trip. It is amazing what a determined herd of bison are capable of.

The other story I heard is that the bison were brought to Catalina as part of a movie set. This doesn’t sound nearly as reliable as the first story, though. Who would bring bison to an island to film a movie? Weird.

Hiking Catalina is so-so.