Above, Chihuly at the Catalina Island Museum
The winter months are the off-season in Catalina, home to to the iconic Casino building, kitschy shops, and beautiful, once-made-in-Catalina pottery and tile work. But off-season or not, there are some very wonderful reasons to check out the island before the holidays.
The glow begins early with sunlight dazzling over ocean views heading from the mainland to the island. Catalina Express offers multiple, less-busy-than-summer crossings in high speed boats from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. The fleet of high-speed ferries makes traveling the 22 miles across the sea effortless and smooth; we had beautiful crossings early in the morning and by moonlight and sunset.
Outdoor seating is surprisingly comfortable, no hard plastic benches here; indoors the lounge area offers a bar, tables, and padded seats. If you’re looking for even more luxury, you can upgrade to the Commodore Lounge, with a complimentary beverage, packaged snack, and reclining seats.
Once on the island, the adventurous in our group of four took a thrilling ride on one of the island’s newest attractions, the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, (above and below.) Grand vistas of the crystal clear harbor water spread out before the intrepid duo who were thrilled with propelling down 5 separate zip lines, and dropping from 600 feet above sea level. One run traversed 1,100 lineal feet. In total, participants travel approximately 3/4 of a mile at a whistling speed of up to 30 miles per hour.
Our pair was shuttled to the top of the zip line course from Descanso Beach. Their return to home base included pauses at several eco-stations where zip line operators discussed the flora and fauna of Catalina Island. The adventure lasts close to 2 hours, and both zippers were exhilerated by the experience.
Below, The Catalina Island Museum.