Last weekend, Catherine and some of my bridesmaids (my dear long-time friends since middle school: Joyce, Julianna, and Nancy) took me on a bachelorette party / weekend getaway trip to the city of Avalon, located on Catalina Island. This was our first time visiting the Channel Islands of California!
We started the weekend off by driving to Long Beach and taking a 1- hour long ferry ride on the Catalina Express over to the island. Once we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by how wonderfully different Catalina Island was, especially for being a destination that was so close to home. Looking back on the trip, I would say that Catalina Island is very much like a a Californian version of Hawaii. As a small resort community (in the month of July), you get all the warm beach-y vacation vibes: people sunbathing out on the sand, vacationers walking around the streets in their swimsuits, ice cream melting within minutes under the hot sun, live music playing from the restaurants, and souvenir shops selling glittery bath bombs. Though it isn't tropical, you still get lovely views all along the coast, like sailboats covering the harbor and palm trees lining the bay. The small city of Avalon is quite lively both in the daytime and at night, bustling with both travelers and locals. It is very quaint, with its colorful little neighborhoods full of tiny houses and their popular use of golf-carts (which seemed like the main vehicle of transportation there other than the Garibaldi Bus). Even though we were only in town for one full day, I would say that my girl friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our first Catalina experience together. Our short stay felt dreamlike, but the reality was: this island was the perfect place for us to spend a weekend together celebrating my last days as an unmarried woman! More info on where we stayed, food we ate, and activities we did below (note: my bridesmaids planned the whole itinerary and I did zero research for this trip):
Catalina Canyon Resort & Spa: As described on their website, it really is a very tranquil hotel tucked away in the peaceful Catalina Island foothills. And it really does have an "architectural style that evokes thoughts of an exclusive Mediterranean resort," haha. Since it is slightly removed from the main activities, they do provide a shuttle system to get you into town/ back to the ferry. Otherwise, it's about a 10 to 15 minute walk from all the restaurants and shops located on the waterfront. We all enjoyed the rooms (which were simple clean and comfortable), as well as the amenities provided in the garden courtyard: swimming pool, hot tub, courtyard tables & chairs (and bistro lights!). They even had a pingpong table and small restaurant in the courtyard.
CC Gallagher: If you want a light Japanese, Asian Fusion-style dinner, CC Gallagher is the place to go! They have sushi rolls, salmon dinner plates, panini sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and a cafe that serves a variety of beverages. You can even get gelato/sorbet for dessert afterwards.
Maggie's Blue Rose: If you want some light Mexican-style food that isn't too heavy/greasy, this is the place to go! I ordered a steak enchilada plate with cilantro rice and spanish rice (I love rice). My sister said the black beans were good and my friends all seemed to enjoy the tortilla chips with salsa/guac.
Scoops Homemade Ice Cream: After a 2-hour snorkeling trip, my two scoops of strawberry and pistachio ice cream totally hit the spot! Their ice cream is handmade from scratch without any preservatives or artificial flavors. And it really was smooth & creamy, flavorful & fresh - a delightful summer treat!
Steve's Steakhouse: This was where we had dinner on our last girls' night out. We actually decided to come here because we found out that Steve's and Maggie's are a husband-wife owned restaurant right next door to each other. Steve's is a little more fancy and located on the second floor. The food tasted great and we were able to enjoy our dinner with an open view of the water right in front of us!
Chi Chi Club: Where you can go for drinks (pina coladas ;), some digital photo booth fun, and dancing!
Garden to Sky Hike: In order to do this hike, you have to take the Garibaldi Bus (which comes every 45 minutes) up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. To get to the start of the trail, you have to walk straight through the garden past different cacti to William Wrigley Jr.'s Memorial. The entrance is through a gate located on the right of the memorial. The hike was 1.2 miles up to the top, where it really does feel like the land meets the sky, and also where you can see the water on the other side of the island. The hike for the most part is dry, without shade, and uphill, but you do get a different view of the island's terrain.
Snorkeling Catalina: I was really impressed that my girl friends scheduled a 2-hour boat trip to go snorkeling along the coast of the island - especially since two of them had never even snorkeled before! Of course, they all ended up doing great and we had an adventure looking for bright orange garibaldi, the California state fish. Even though it was 72 degrees, the water still felt cold and we ended up wearing wet suits. Our boat driver took us to a couple spots where he felt like the views would be best and we ended the excursion at Lover's Cove, which was where we saw the most fish!
I am genuinely so thankful for such a thoughtfully planned out trip and an overall amazing weekend with these girls. I very much cherish the time we got to spend with each other and all the ways we got acquainted with Catalina Island (it really did feel like home by the the last night of the trip!). I truly couldn't have asked for more : )
Just capturing as I go.