With the Kids

Our Catalina Island Family Getaway

Last weekend I was invited by Santa Catalina Island Company to travel with my family to Catalina Island, having some fun in the sun and discovering this unique vacation spot. It’s so close by, just a ferry boat away off the coast of Long Beach, California.

Catalina Island Vacation

We started by boarding the Catalina Express, “a real live boat” as my daughter said! That was the first highlight of the trip. But just to warn you that if you’re the seasick type, you may want to go up front to look out at the horizon, right Jordan?!

Catalina Express

Then coming off the boat and walking up to the main streets of Avalon to our Hotel Atwater, I felt the rush and excitement of being on an island. There’s quaint shops, boats docked, and a very relaxed feeling. And I’m pretty sure this island didn’t have any “others”, or at least that I know of!

Catalina Hotel

There’s great places to eat, all types of cuisine to choose from. We enjoyed yummy food and a live band at the Lobster Trap, ate the best french fries at Coney Island West (I might go back just for those), and the super delicious, gain 20 pounds, carnitas nachos from the Casino Dock Cafe.

Catalina Lobster Trap

We were able to take some guided tours around the island, seeing the sites and learning more about the history of Catalina. Mr. William Wrigley Jr. (yes from the gum) purchased the island company and made it into what it is today. The Chicago Cubs used to come there and hold their spring training each year. We also learned that the Casino in town is not actually a real gambling casino. It was built as a gathering place, the Italian meaning of the word “casino”. It has a theater where they used to show silent movies with someone playing a live organ, and it’s still there, so fun to listen to. And the ballroom upstairs has hosted many “big bands” from back in the day.

Catalina Casino

We also visited the city of Two Harbors. It’s on the other side of the island, a fabulous place to visit with a beautiful beach. We kayaked with the kids and Jordan even braved snorkeling. I loved just looking out from the beach with the view of the boats that are docked.

Catalina Kayaking

Of course the kids loved the beach. My baby was all over in the sand. Even snacking on some, mixed in with her cheerios and dining on rocks! Gotta love it.

Catalina Beach

But my kids will tell you that their favorite part of the whole weekend was the Flying Fish boat trip. The Flying Fish are real, not kidding. Those fish were flying, it was amazing. We went out at night and the guide shines a bright light on the ocean. The fish get scared when they hear our boat coming and try to “fly” away. One actually flew up so high that it hit a lady’s shoulder. Another hit the side of the boat. We were all screaming with excitement. Soooo fun! We also got to take the Underwater sea tour, which was just as exciting. It’s like a real life Disneyland “Nemo” ride, seeing all the fish up close in an underwater submarine.

Catalina Flying Fish

Here’s the blogging babes I got to hang out with, Allison and Ciaran. Their families were so fun to be with, everyone getting along. Here we are at Descanso Beach where we got to BBQ Under the Stars, right on the beach.

Catalina Descanso Beach

Then one of the best parts of the whole weekend was getting a relaxing massage. This mama didn’t know how much she needed it! Deanna from Deanna Stone Bodyworks literally worked my body over. She’s trained in Lomi Lomi bodywork, healing my body and soul! She starts with the head, then works her way around. I’m not kidding, I will be back just for her! Thank you, Deanna.

Catalina Getaway

We had such a great family getaway. Jordan and I are planning our next trip to Catalina when just the two of us can go! Thanks to Santa Catalina Island Company for inviting us to come. For more information or to book your family getaway, Visit Catalina Island website or to call 1-800-626-1496.

Have any of you already been to Catalina? What was your favorite thing to do there?


  1. My MIL was born and raised on the island, and they still maintain a vacation home (duplex) there – so we go normally twice a year (May and October), plus one diving trip for my husband. We *love* Catalina – it is such a place of relaxation for us! We always go to Big Olaf’s for ice cream, and Antonio’s at least twice – once for dinner and once for their very yummy Hawaiian breakfast. I’m not a beach person but Descanso Beach Club works fine for us – shade & grass for me, sand/rocks & water for the kids, and Buffalo Milks delivered right to your sand chair! We take a lot of walks, take the cart up on the hill to see the harbor from above, hike to Wrigley Memorial…

  2. I haven’t been for years, but LOVED the boat ride out to the island and coming back they had a live band and dancing on the boat! But it was beautiful and I’d love to go back!!

  3. I haven’t been there for 20 years but we used to go often with our young daughters when we lived in Southern California. My inlaws took their kids there a lot, so it’s a family tradition. Our favorite thing was to stake out our place on the beach early in the day then spend the day in the sun or shade, playing cards, reading, visiting, swimming or rafting. It’s a relaxing step back in time to the 1940’s with the craftsman tile work & architecture. We’d rent a house & make easy dinners at night or hit KFC, which we swore was the BEST KFC in the world. We’d play in the arcade in the evenings (everyone cramming into a photo booth) & found out our little 4 year old had a knack for Skee Ball. Buffalo Burgers at the top of the island’s airport was always a hit.

  4. That sounds like a great trip! We were just in SoCal and decided against Catalina due to time constraints, now I kind of wish we’d found the time! My boys would have gone crazy over the flying fish!

  5. On my gosh! I haven’t been there since I was 5! I remember that everything
    seemed to be painted aqua.

    m ^..^

  6. Looks like such a great time. we’re planning a trip to CA next year, but we haven’t figued out where yet. this looks so nice.

  7. My husband took me there back when we were dating and we had sucha great time! Our favorite memory we have fun laughing about was when we were looking through one of the art galleries. We had walked back into one of the smaller rooms with art and as we came out to leave, we realized the owner had left the gallery and locked us in! We ended up calling the local police to get us out and they said something like “yea, that happens a lot to that owner/gallery. He probably just went to get lunch and will be back soon.” Sure enough, 20 minutes later, the guy came back, completely unsurprised to find us inside. It was a fun trip!!

  8. I love Catalina. My wife and I have only been once, but it was magical. My wife and a friend rode the Catalina Flier out of Newport Beach while the two guys followed the boat on wave runners! (Not recommended for the faint of heart or the unprepared.)

    Avalon is a great town and a perfect vacation spot. We also rode the wave runners (all of us on them) up north to Two Harbors and stayed at a bed and breakfast. That part of the trip was amazing with nearly fifteen miles of private beach, blue water, sand and adventure.

    Thanks for this post, Marie. I can’t wait to go back.

  9. Catalina is great! I haven’t been there since I was six, but it was magical. We went there by helicopter and I remember being blowing away from beginning to end!

  10. My husband and I went on a cruise for our first anniversary and one of the stops was Catalina. We rented a golf cart and cruised around. It was such a blast! But reading your post makes me want to go back again!

  11. We went to Catalina on our honeymoon – although we didn’t have a chance to see much of the island, snicker-snicker ;>

  12. And to Jenni….I went to Catalina Island for a school program CIMI…….Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay…..is that where you were? I know there are so many coves and camps….just wondering….brought back a flood (or ocean) of memories. Buffalo…foxes….snorkeling in seaweed and freaking out….I am not a fan of swimming with fish! How cool that you lived there!

  13. Isn’t that place awesome! So fun with all the history and the relaxing feel. I was also born and raised in California in Ventura County. I am now in Central Arkansas…..no ocean here. But I do love the Fireflies. Anyway, glad you had a great time!

  14. That does sound like a fun trip! I was born and raised in southern California (Orange County) and I never had the pleasure of visiting Catalina before. I used to see it when we’d go to the beach though. ;)

  15. so fun to see these pictures!! I lived there in 1980 for a year with my family – my dad was the program director for a camp that was run in one of the coves… It is beautiful and probably one of the west coast’s best little secret :-) Glad you enjoyed your time – I can’t wait to get there for a visit…

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