Living in the Midwest, we had often commented that we should go to Catalina sometime when we were in CA for business or pleasure. Our daughter lives in SoCal, so we finally decided on a Friday afternoon to leave on Saturday. I booked the trip on the phone and found out that our preferred port to leave (Long Beach) was already full for a mid morning departure, so we settled on the San Pedro launch port. Easy to find using nav and posted signs, we were pleasantly surprised with the indoor facilities that include a small food concession and bar, with brochures on various activities on the Island.
We sat outside on the top deck and for 70 minutes loved the ride to Catalina. The weather and water were perfect, but if you do sit outside, bring a jacket for the wind and a hat or sunscreen. On the way over, we read about some of the activities in the brochure and decided to rent a golf cart when we landed. Absolutely the best idea of the day; the island is very hilly with cliffs and amazing views, but you need a way to get up the hills and we highly recommend the gas engine golf carts for rent at 3 or more booths. The carts are covered and can hold 4 or 6 people, and if you sign up before 1pm, there was a discount of 'buy 2 hrs, get the 3rd hr free'. At $40/hr, 3 hrs for $80 was a great way to zip around the suggested route (w/map) and stop to take pictures, grab a taco and beer near the golf course and hit the beach area bar near the tail end of our 3 hrs.
Everyone on the boat was friendly and professional and someday I'd love to take Catalina Express over to the island for another day of fun. Small shops and restaurants are all walking distance from the landing site, along with water toys to rent, if you don't feel like a ride up through the hills with the beautiful views. There are also small lockers for rent near the landing dock, in case you need storage space for your belongings.
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