Out and About: Catalina Island Edition

From flying fish to laid-back luaus, here are our picks of the best things to do on Santa Catalina Island

Once a getaway for Hollywood elites to escape from paparazzi, Catalina Island has in recent decades become more of a not-so-secret treasure for everyday Angelenos and visitors looking for a simple, relaxing vacation. Cars are few and far-between on the island, and just about everything is either walking distance or a short golf-cart-taxi-ride away; whether you’re shooting for a family vibe, an outdoor-sports experience or a party-heavy hang, Catalina’s got something for everyone in both its port town of Avalon and out into the wild island interior. Here are the best things to do no matter your vibe once you hop off the hour-long boat ride from the mainland.

Flying Fish Voyage

Flying Fish Voyage

What is it: One of the only opportunities you’ll ever have to watch fish fly. Seriously.

Why go: For nearly a century, Catalina’s flying fish boat has been wowing visitors with a surreal experience that seems culled from a dreamworld. Every night over the summer, the crew lures Cheilopogon pinnatibarbatus californicus (otherwise known as flying fish) out of the water for not-quite-actual-flying-but-it-sure-looks-like-it glides up to 100 feet. Bring a jacket—it can get chilly —and keep your eyes out: the fish often end up landing inside the boat.

Wrigley Memorial and Gardens

Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens

What is it: A beautiful ode to the island’s famous founding father.

Why go: William Wrigley, Jr (yes, the gum guy) is responsible for the development of Catalina. So of course the garden and memorial that carries his name is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. It’s a moderate hike from the beach (you can also get up to it by renting a bike, or via golf cart—more on that in a bit). Once there you’ll be immersed in a 37-acre botanical garden focused on plants endemic to California and the Channel Islands. See breathtaking views from the tower overlook built from quarried rocks culled from the island itself.

catalina casino

The Catalina Casino

What is it: Not a gambling hall—rather, it’s a palatial special-events venue complete with a beautiful art-deco movie theater.

Why go: The sort-of-Roman-looking Catalina Casino is the most iconic building on the island, with walls full of stories. Steeped in over 90 years of history, your able to learn more about Catalina Casino on three different walking tours. If a tour’s not your thing, it’s still worth going to a movie there (first-run films show nightly at 7:30pm). The art deco theater is gorgeous, and there’s often pre-show music played through its 1920s-era organ.

Luau Larry’s

Luau Larry’s

What is it: A classic burger-and-drinks shack—with the best fries you’ll ever have.

Why go: First time visitors to Catalina can’t help but notice slews of tourists sporting straw hats. It’s because they’ve all had the Wiki Wack at Luau Larry’s. The fun signature cocktail comes with one of the ubiquitous headpieces. Grease the drink down with their curly fries, which are always perfectly crispy, and seasoned with—well, it’s a secret, but it’s gotta be magic, whatever it is. The burgers aren’t bad, and there are often live-music singalongs at night.

Descanso Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club

What is it: The ‘fancy’ beach on the island, with cabanas, booze and more.

Why go: You can set a blanket on Avalon’s main beaches for free if you’d like. But it’s worth taking a walk just past the Casino to Descanso. Here they offer rentable chaise lounges and cabanas. They’re also the only place on the island you can enjoy alcoholic beverages(for all you rose drinkers). There are also rentable paddleboards, snorkel sets and kayaks, and, over the summer, DJs and live bands on weekends.

Golf cart rental

Golf cart rental

What is it: The best way to see a large percentage of the island—and get a great view.

Why go: Sure, you could spend all your time on Catalina in town in Avalon. But if you want to explore more of the island, the best way is via golf cart. In about two hours you can see beautiful views, check out some of the historical structures and explore hidden spots.

Zipe Line Eco Tour

Eco Zip Line

What is it: A high-intensity aerial experience.

Why go: High-octane adventure seekers should seek out two Catalina experiences: the Ocean Runner boat tour, which blasts through the water at high-speeds on a ribcraft boat, and this high-flying tour, which descends over five ziplines, 600 feet above Descanso, from a unique vantage point to learn about the island’s unusual ecosystem if you’re not just in it for the thrills.


Hiking trails

What is it: An outdoorsperson’s prime reason to visit.

Why go: Catalina’s inland is covered with hiking trails and camping spots. With over 165 miles of trails to explore, you’ll have options ranging from easy to expert. Obviously, it’s a way to get closer with nature: the island’s host to tons of interesting plants and animals. These include tiny Island foxes and imposing buffalo! With some luck, on an inland hike, you may see a herd peacefully grazing.

Catalina Room Escape

Catalina Room Escape

What is it: Avalon’s newest family-friendly activity.

Why go: Just opened in 2018, the island’s only escape room (pirate-themed, naturally). It is a challenging and fun way to spend an hour if you have one to spare. Just keep in mind: duck, and then look up. We didn’t, and needed to ask for a hint. You’re welcome.

Marlin Club


What is it: A time-honored nighttime tradition.

Why go: There’s not a ton of nightlife on Catalina, which can become part of the appeal of a visit. Stop by for karaoke at El Galleon, venturing later in the night to the Marlin, before hitting the dance floor at Club Chi-Chi. Then end the evening with a final nightcap at the Locker Room. The next night? Repeat.

Mt. Ada

Mt. Ada

What is it: William Wrigley Jr’s old mansion—and your fancy lunch spot.

Why go: Mt. Ada, once William Wrigley Jr.’s mansion, and now the fanciest hotel on the island, is also an ideal dining spot. It’s only open for lunch, with a three-course menu that’s not exactly formal, but does have an air of classiness.

Your Holiday Travel Guide

The best part of the holidays other than quality family time is the time to get away. While we love the sites and scenes in the city of stars, sometimes it’s nice to spend the festive season abroad. With that in mind we have rounded together the top destinations to jet off to between Hanukkah and the New Year, so pack your bags for the great Winter escape!


Mexico’s Pacific Coast

While Puerto Vallarta is always a guaranteed great time south of the border, the beach town of Sayulita delivers its own level of style. Just 20 miles south from the major resort area, this is plentiful of vintage board shops and hammock strung guest homes. Feel like splurging? In between beach shack margaritas and local bites are NYC and Parisian designers tucked into brightly painted boutiques. Your winter getaway awaits!!

Tbilisi, Georgia

While this destination may seem an unlikely choice for a winter get-away, it is an ideal spot for those looking to find a different skiing scene. While places like Aspen and Switzerland never disappoint, the same can be said for Tbilisi. With its jumble of colorful balconies, Art Nouveau facades and picturesque flea markets, its the perfect combination of Eurasian wonder.


It’s the place where HRH Prince Harry swept nor HRH Duchess Megan off her feet. It is also one of the most extraordinary safari experiences you can find in this region of the South African Nation. The Okavango delta is overflowing in wildlife found throughout the areas protected park and game reserve. With the area’s new found press, Wilderness Safaris was lucky to open it’s new luxury tented suites; Oorokwe Camp at the right time. With bleached timbers and private deck , these accommodations along the border of Moremi Game Reserve is fit for any Royal or visitor alike.

Nepal and Bhutan

As we promised, this is a list of destinations perfect to visit during the winter months, and the area of Nepal and Bhutan holds true to that promise. Stay at the famed Dwarika Hotel–an oasis of architectural charm and traditional luxury, one of many luxury hotel options in the area. Then take your exploring to new heights by enjoying a helicopter ride to the top of The Taktsang Monastery. There you will enjoy a picnic lunch above the clouds followed by a hike down to tour the Monastery. When do we leave?


While India almost speaks for itself as a travel choice, this year marks a historic opportunity to visit. This year the country celebrates  150 years since the birth of Gandhi. Also while there one can see the wonder of Nagaland and the Kaziranga National Park-home to asiatic rhinos and some of Asia’s last surviving former-headhunting tribes.

Tohoku, Japan

Japan has always served as a fascinating and unique destination full of culturally exquisite finds. With so many area’s to chose from to explore, why not venture off the beaten path? Tohoku, 90 minutes north-east of Tokyo offers incredible natural landscapes. Perfect for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter, it is a year round escape. Wander through the village of Kakunodate, home to Samurai legends and artisan workshops, reminiscent of the Edo period.

Mackenzie Country, Otago, New Zealand

We all know New Zealand as the land of Hobbiton(or Lord of the Rings fans know this), but the island nation is more than fantasy in it splendor. With it’s glacial highlands and sunken valleys, visitors are recommended to enjoy the country’s Alp region for hiking, biking and luxury accommodations.

Nusa Penida, Indonesia


While Bali and the Gili Islands already serve as world renowned vacation spots, the island of Nusa Penida is just as breathtaking. Located just of the south east coast of Bali, Nusa Penida offers untouched landscapes. Amongst the beauty is a chance to soak in the natural wonder of the Giri Putri Cave or Angel’s Billabong. Stay at the Kabeh Jati Garden Villa for a perfect nights rest.


While 2019 will be a celebration off Panama City’s 500 year history, mid-December begins it’s season of the best time to travel to the region. While the country is small in size, it offers vast options of exploration. From it’s white sand beaches and  indigenous culture and it’s to tropical rainforest and misty highlands, your adventure awaits.

Palomino, Columbia

With it’s beautiful; Caribbean beaches and and stunning wildlife, Palomina is the ideal holiday escape. Enjoy surfing or floating via tub down the Palomino River and its natural beauty. With it’s amazing range of seafood and luxury stay options, this Columbian destination awaits your well deserved visit.



The Best Places to Travel in July

July means independence. Or, more accurately, watching people eat an inhuman amount of hot dogs before drinking and playing with fireworks to celebrate independence. All of this is great fun, but it only gets you to the fourth day of the month. After that, you’ve got four weeks when the weather is nicer, the pace is slower, and half of America is on vacation. So why not take some time off as well?

To help you plan your mid-summer getaway, we found places with some amazing stuff going on, from a city-wide cirque festival in Montreal to wildebeests in Kenya to the opening of the closest thing you’ll ever find to a real-life Mario Kart. Here are the best places to travel this July.