Catalina is not the typical island of your dreams. It is more desert than tropical. Instead of waves lapping up on soft white sand beaches, the waves crash into rocky cliffs. Most of the island is a conservancy, where bison roam free and other creatures call home. Falcons soar through the valley against the backdrop of jagged mountains dense with vegetation. It’s a majestic kind of beauty.
And then there’s the little town of Avalon, where all the action happens. Rows of restaurants, hotels, boutiques, and souvenir shops line the main and side streets. Golf carts and miniature cars fit for a barbie cruise the roads. Palm trees (planted by a film crew decades ago) tower over the shoreline. Sunbathers sprawl out on sand filled platforms by the water. Avalon is contrasting, yet complementing, to the rest of Catalina Island.
Our second day was dedicated to exploring the island – indulging in island eats, browsing the shops, and of course, no trip to Catalina is complete without breathing in the amazing views from up top.
DAY TWO – EXPLORE BY LAND
Off-Road Segways – I’ve always thought segways were kinda funny… it’s impossible to take a mall cop/security officer on a segway seriously and tourists just look like lazy dorks. But attach ‘off-road’ to even the most ridiculous of activities and it becomes a crazy adventure. Even if all you need to do is stand still on a machine. Apparently yes, we are that lazy and yes, we had a blast! This 2-hour tour took us high into the mountain roads where the terrain is rough and the view is breathtaking. It was a glorious morning; the sky was clear and we were able to see for miles from our mountaintop vantage point – from the lush green of the golf course to the colorful little town of Avalon, and finally endless blue until ocean, clouds, and sky melded into one.
This off-road segway tour was pricey at $89/person + tips; however, we figure that we will never do anything this ridiculous again. And it was worth every penny.
Cruising on Electric Bikes – Equipped with battery powered bikes (with throttle!) and a map of the town, we spent our last afternoon exploring Avalon at our leisure. I thought that the bikes would be somewhat anticlimactic after the segways, but I was wrong. Being from a city where perpetually sitting in heavy traffic, staring at the taillights of endless cars, is the way of life, this was a freedom almost never experienced. It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Even though I have done far more adventurous things, this basic activity of biking filled me with simple pure happiness. How do I even begin to describe the overwhelming sense of freedom, the elation of zipping up the hills at full throttle, with nothing but the road ahead and the infinite ocean at your side? It consumes you. All your troubles melt away and you feel superhuman at that moment, able to take on anything life throws at you.
$40 for a half day rental. This is way more than enough time to bike the island many times over. This is a must do! I hear the golf cart rental is fun too, but probably not the same. Either way, a trip to Catalina is not complete without going up the hills.
Later that evening, as I sat on the boat speeding away from the island, I felt my heart getting heavier with each step. I was forced to come off the high of just having roamed so freely. So back down to earth I fall… back to eternal traffic, brown waters, worries and doubts. But not all of me, for a tiny bit of my heart stayed behind at the desert paradise 22 miles off the coast.