Part 1: A Surprising Island Paradise

When living in Los Angeles, opportunities for weekend getaways are plentiful.  You can drive 100 miles or less in any direction and be in any climate your heart desires. Whether you are in search of the desert, wine country, the beach, the mountains or the snow — it’s all within a weekends reach.

Two hours east you wind up in Palm Springs. Two hours south, San Diego.  Two hours north Santa Barbara. Two hours north-east Big Bear.  Two hours west (not by car of course) you find yourself in a surprising slice of island paradise… Catalina.

A sailboat anchored in the crystal waters of Catalina Island

This rocky California island spans 22 miles long and 8 miles wide and is home to a little under 4000 people.  85% of who reside in Catalina’s only incorporated city, Avalon and the other 15% in the unincorporated city of Two Harbors.

Now most visitors make the trek to Catalina to hang out in Avalon.  I can’t tell you much about the small seaside paradise besides that there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy for the weekend.  You can do anything from gamble you money away in the local Casino, ride a zipline down the island, or learn to scuba dive.  It’s not without its charm, however this past weekend we headed to the laid back city of Two Harbors to snorkel, hike, mountain bike, camp, and eat some great food (camping recipes to come shortly)!

Two Harbors

Two Harbors - Santa Catalina Island

Two Harbors is literally composed of a restaurant/bar, a general store/ice cream shop, a dive/recreational center, two small lodges, a campground, and of course a harbor. Its crowd is composed of the laid-back yacht owner, the beach-side camper, and the locals who you see working the dive/rec center during the day and bouncing the bar at night.  It is the components to the perfect recipe for a weekend away from Los Angeles (especially one so aptly name “Carmeggedon”).

Two Harbors Dive & Recreation Center, Harbor Reef Restaurant/Bar, & The General Store

If camping on arrival you’ll check in, drop off all your gear with the Park Ranger, (they deliver) order your firewood/charcoal and make the short (.02 miles) but very steep trek to the campground overlooking the Pacific.  All I can say is thank you to whoever was brilliant enough to put the gear delivery program into place, FOR FREE!

Campsite #42 at Two Harbors Campground

Two Harbors Campground Details:

  • total of 42 individual tent/tent cabin sites and 3 group sites.
  • a tent site runs $30 a night for two people/ a tent cabin $50 a night
  • equipment rentals are available for propane stoves, tents, sleeping pads, and 4-person tents
  • firewood & charcoal are available for purchase and delivered
The Nitty-Gritty Details That All Campers Want to Know:

Every campsite is equipped with a fire pit, grill, awning, and picnic table to use as you will.  The grounds are well-kept, there’s running water for cleaning dishes, drinking and showering –bathrooms are nothing fancy, just your a-typical port-a-potty.

For more info on Two Harbors Campground, click here.

Marina Del Ray Flyer

Getting to Catalina:

When planning a trip to Catalina you have several options in ferries that leave from up and down the coast.

  • Catalina Express – Boats leave several times a day, 7 days a week from San Pedro, Long Beach (downtown), Long Beach (Queen Mary), and Dana Point.  Cost: about $70.00 round trip.
  • Marina Del Ray Flyer – Boats leave once a day 6 days a week from the Marina Del Ray Harbor, parking is $10 (cash) a day!
  • HINT: Be on the look out for Groupon and Living Social deals for the above, they happen frequently!!

I have now been living in this 2 hour window of Los Angeles, for coming up on 8 years, and have been visiting it for at least 23– yet I had never been nor had the chance to imagine what this small island had to offer!  Chances are you yourself have either been talking about going for years, have been once for the day, or never really thought about it.  My advice to you is figure out how you can get yourself there in the next year and stay for a night or two — decide for yourself whether it’s your 2 hour from home paradise.

Catalina Map

Map of Catalina

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s