Gone to Catalina in my boat
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
“Double your pleasure, double your fun, with Doublemint gum.” Ahhh, quite possibly one of the most famous food jingles to this day. And who could forget the twins featured in this corny yet memorable commercial? Once owned by William Wrigley, Jr. of Wrigley chewing gum, Santa Catalina Island, southwest of Los Angeles, is one of California’s Channel Islands. It is roughly 40 miles from Marina del Rey depending on where you plan to anchor / moor your boat.
Like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are to New York City, Catalina is a must-visit destination if you are an avid boater living along the West Coast. This island is known for Mt. Orizaba (the highest peak), its wildlife, dive sites, water sports, and pristine golf courses with 360-degree ocean views. Both locals and visitors alike might try to make an argument for whether the East or West End is better, but you really need to experience both because each has its advantages. Visiting only one end of the island is like going to Disney World and not leaving yourself enough time to visit all four theme parks. Can you really go there without seeing Animal Kingdom?
The East End, affectionately known as “Two Harbors,” is a nature-lover’s retreat with hiking and biking trails as far as the eye can see, lush green campgrounds with a BYOT (bring your own tent) atmosphere, and quiet, seemingly uninhabited, areas perfect for stargazing. To complete this relaxing, quaint getaway, this part of the island boasts a restaurant and two outside bars with delicious food to satisfy the most upscale of palettes right down to the good old-fashioned American burger and fries for those who want to keep things beach casual. If you forget something or fancy a souvenir, then you can just walk over to the general store to grab a t-shirt, camping accessories, or fishing gear. Note that the East End is not very dog friendly. A visiting sailor’s dog bit someone in Two Harbors ten years ago. The locals are clearly not over it. By the way, I am very, very sorry.
If you feel like clubbing, catching the latest flick, or sipping a cocktail beachside with your pup then the West End (which includes the town of Avalon) will definitely put some wind in your sails! Check out the casino (mind you, there are no Blackjack tables) for the history. Then head over to Descanso Beach where you can rent a cabana and sip on a Miami Vice or a margarita with your feet in the sand. Did I mention all of the waterfront dining options here from authentic Mexican fare to a big, juicy steak, or the fresh catch of the day? If there is rain in the forecast, head over to the Avalon Theatre to see a movie, or to the museum to learn some fun facts about the history of the Island. Before you set foot on this European-inspired oasis, look and see if you can catch the Summer Concert Series or a game of Beach Bingo.
I will confess that I might be a little biased toward Catalina because I proposed to my wife in Avalon, but that does not change the notion that if you live in California and are fortunate enough to own a yacht, this slice of paradise should be on your bucket list.