Catalina Island Weekend Jaunt

Blog Post created by iahflyr on Nov 5, 2018

A few weeks ago for our anniversary trip this year we decided to forgo the Oregon Coast in favor of Catalina Island, California.  This will be our first time visiting Catalina Island after many years of wanting to visit this gorgeous quaint little spot.  It looks like the Amalfi Coast in Italy from some of the photos we'd seen, even though on a much smaller scale.  We booked a VRBO condo overlooking the Pacific in the Hamilton Cove area of the island.    Next issue, transportation from Houston, Texas, leaving Friday returning home on Tuesday without a Marriott stay. .


  • Booked IAH-LAX United B789 (our first -900 Dreamliner flight) departing IAH at 6:15 PM arriving LAX at 7:36 PM
  • Hotel stay in Long Beach at the Hilton Long Beach near the Catalina Express Terminal
  • Next day Catalina Express departing Long Beach at 12:15 PM arriving Avalon on Catalina Island at 12:15 PM 


Our Dreamliner flight was fabulous, of course.  The B789 being slightly longer than the B788 give the already very quiet ride the chance to be even quieter in Row 1 as the wing is further back, we hardly hear anything from the motors, just the wind noise as we rocketed through the air toward LAX on the dinner flight.  Great service and food was pretty good although we opted only to share the Green Salad with grilled Chicken on the side as we'd eaten a bit at the AMEX Centurion Lounge at IAH before making our way to Gate C7.  Arrived LAX a few minutes early and made our way out to get out to the Private Car we had reserved for the 40 minute ride to the Hilton.  I'd checked in online the day before, selected our room and attempted to use the keyless entry, but it did not work.  HMMM, over the the Front Desk where I was told as a Hilton Honors Diamond member we'd been upgraded to a larger corner room (way to go Hilton, didn't even ask) and she handed us the key and away we went.  Very large room with a balcony overlooking the port of Long Beach.  


We had seen this Thai restaurant within a few blocks of the hotel and since we shared our food some three hours before we headed over to Thai District – Modern Thai Kitchen about 8:30 PM to share a dish.  My Wife picked Drunken Noodle with Jasmine Rice, OMG, best Thai food we've ever eaten and we ate ALL of it!!   Outstanding service to go along with the excellent food, great spot.


Saturday morning we had a very good breakfast buffet at the hotel then made the short 10 minute walk over to the Catalina Express Terminal.  We'd booked the Commodore Desk which is the inside upper level of the boat which offers pre-boarding as well so why not.  We checked in without a hitch, off to the dock and right on schedule at 11:45 AM we started boarding for the 12:15 PM departure which also was right on time.


The Commodore Deck holds about 35-40 passengers, but this trip was probably 65% full.  The seats are comfortable, have a limited recline, tray table and passenger service from what I called our "Boat Attendant". 


We decided upon some Champagne (wasn't the highest quality, but who cares we are headed to the Island) as one drink ticket each comes with the Commodore Deck tickets.  Yes of course we had more than one each!


A beautiful day to make the 28 mile 1+05 ferry boat ride south of Long Beach to Avalon.  The Captain told us there would be very small swells along the way, ahhhh that's nothing for an AV Geek (oh wait, we are on a boat) .  Leaving the dock we passed by the very best piece of artwork I've ever seen on a bridge as well as the Queen Mary which is docked and on display close to the Terminal.


I just missed some Dolphins playing alongside the ferry, but what a really smooth sail and within about 40 minutes Catalina Island appears in the distance.


I spotted Hamilton Cove on the hillside which is above and to the north about a mile from Avalon.  


Chimes Tower is being restored so we didn't get to hear them, but it's a landmark on the Island as well as the Catalina Casino - Wikipedia  the most visible landmark on Avalon Bay.


Boats, boats and more boats in the Bay with the start of downtown Avalon in the distance.


This place is going to be fun.  The main mode of transportation other than on food on the island is golf carts.  There are not many cars on the island and golf carts are everywhere.  No, I didn't bring golf clubs. 


We grabbed our roll-a-board, backpack and we are off the boat and on Catalina Island.


Since our condo wouldn't be ready for about an hour we took the chance to walk around downtown a bit before getting the taxi van (one such company on the island) up the hill to Hamilton Cove.  Such a clean manicured place with a good number of spots to sit and have a drink or bite to eat.  We picked  the first joint we came across walking from the dock for a welcome drink, Luau Larry's on Catalina Island – Home of the Famous Wiki Wacker.


Time to get to the condo and see what we'd rented.  We were NOT IN THE LEAST close to being disappointed with our abode high on the hill. 


The 1 BR was just the right size, very clean and airy with plenty of kitchen utensils for cooking and grilling (yep we did that), although I must admit we didn't spend much time inside.


And yes the condo came with a golf cart for us to use during our stay and did we use it.  We wandered all around the parts of the island were golf carts are allowed, but there are some very hilly spots going toward the airport and Two Harbors (another tiny town on the island) that are restricted to on vehicles that require a pass to enter.  Oh well we had all the fun we wanted driving about and seeing the gorgeous views, crystal clear waters and enjoying the sunshine.


After enjoying wandering all over the place, on Sunday and Monday we had a light lunch in town at a couple of excellent spots.  Sunday was incredibly tasty Cod Fish Tacos at https://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/dining-nightlife/avalon/avalon-grille while Monday we grabbed an awesome Grilled Artichoke (yes I said grilled) from Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant for an early lunch as this was our last day on the island.


Our golf cart as is most if not all on the island had a gasoline engine and there is but one gas station on Catalina Island.  Since the station closes at 3:30 PM each day we needed to fill up the cart before we left so we headed past the ferry dock to filler up  On the way back toward town just a few yards down the street next to the Heliport is Buffalo Nickel Restaurant | Best Food in Catalina island which we'd stopped in for a drink the day before during one of our curiosity drives,so what the heck it's our last day we might as well have another drink.  The friendly and funny bartender remembered us from the day before, right down to our names and what we had to drink.  We love getting to know the locals and their story and before ya know it, we have to get along to https://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/activities-adventures/descanso-beach-club for a late afternoon beverage to enjoy the sound of the water washing up on the beach.  We met a family that was there on their anniversary from Katy, Texas, a suburb town just west of Houston.  Small world it is!! 


Time to go back to the condo, say bye to the Security Guard at Hamilton Cove who'd open the gate for us each time we'd go in and out on the golf cart and enjoy the sunset from the patio and then the moon reflection over the Pacific Ocean.  We cooked dinner each night on the grill and enjoyed meeting our two different sets of neighbors on the patio from the condo next door as they changed on the second night.  It was sad to be leaving this wonderful spot on earth, yet happy to be headed home early in the morning.


 Our ferry departed Avalon right on schedule at 7:45 AM for Long Beach so we could get back to LAX for our 12:45 PM departure back to IAH.  The had more swells going back yet nothing that rocked the boat too much.  We pulled into the dock, grabbed the roll-a-board and backpack and met our driver back to the airport.  The drive back took almost 75 minutes due to traffic (duh it's LA in the morning) and the traffic getting into the airport was no better.  We almost got the 11:05 AM Dreamliner flight, but they only had one First Class seat left so we kept our scheduled B739ER trip and dashed through Pre-Check in no time.  


The UA flight home was just as good as the one coming out other than not on a Dreamliner.  The crew was fabulous, Tandoori Chicken and Salad for lunch was surprisingly very very good and we even had time to chit chat a lot with the Flight Attendant who turned out to be working part time in the same industry as my Wife so they had a great time.  She even told us that we were not as "stuffy nor boring" as most passengers she's had in First Class during her first three years of flying for UA.  Well we do enjoy meeting folks and just being our ole goofy happy go luck selves.  We landed at IAH early and got right to C10.  As we said our goodbyes to the Flight Attendants thanking them for keeping us safe, being happy and making our flight very enjoyable, One of them handed my Wife a bag with a special gift inside.  WOW, that was so nice to get making this I think about five times now we'd gotten a parting gift.   Sure makes ya feel good when you get off a flight knowing you've given the employees some little bit of fun.  Best part though was attached to the bag, a note.....LOL


Thanks for riding along on our perfectly wonderful trip.  If you've not been to Catalina Island make it something on your travel bucket list.  It is easy to get to, all the locals are so very very fun and friendly plus the scenery is great.