Search: Advanced | Preference
Traveling Boy means the travel adventures of the Traveiling Boitanos
Travel adventures of Eric Anderson Boitano
Travel adventures of John Clayton
Travel adventures of Deb Roskamp
Travel adventures of Fyllis Hockman
Travel adventures of Brom Wikstrom
Travel adventures of Jim Friend
Travel adventures of Timothy Mattox
Travel adventures of Corinna Lothar
Travel adventures of Roger Fallihee
Travel adventures of Tamara Lelie
Travel adventures of Beverly Cohn
Travel adventures of Raoul Pascual
Travel adventures of Ringo Boitano
Travel adventures of Herb Chase
Travel adventures of Terry Cassel
Travel adventures of Dette Pascual
Travel adventures of Gary Singh
Travel adventures of John Blanchette
Travel adventures of Tom Weber
Travel adventures of James Thomas
Travel adventures of Richard Carroll
Travel adventures of Richard Frisbie
Travel adventures of Masada Siegel
Travel adventures of Greg Aragon
Travel adventures of Skip Kaltenheuser
Travel adventures of Ruth J. Katz
Travel adventures of Traveling Boy's guest contributors

Colorado ad

About Greg   write me    Feeds provide updated website content        

Greg: Catalina Island
Escape to Catalina Island
Story and photographs by Greg Aragon

atalina is not just an island paradise off the Los Angeles coast; it’s a very close island paradise, which makes it a perfect day or weekend getaway. In fact, at only 24 miles across the sea from Long Beach, the place can be reached by boat in one hour.

With this in mind, a friend and I recently escaped to the island for a memorable summer Getaway.

boaats and yachts moored at Avalon, Catalina Island
Catalina Island is an island paradise, only 24 miles off the coast of Long Beach, California.

Our journey began in downtown Long Beach, where we picked up tickets from Catalina Express and boarded one of the company’s sleek, catamaran-styled vessels for an hour journey across the Catalina Channel.

Featuring comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, lots of big windows and a full bar and snack shop, the boat makes for a fun trip. Highlights of the crossing include views of the legendary Queen Mary, the giant, white geodesic Carnival Cruise ship dome (former home to Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” wooden airplane), and schools of playful dolphins that usually follow the boat into Catalina Harbor.

the Catalina Express approaching Catalina Island
Catalina Express offers island trips in sleek, comfortable, catamaran-styled vessels

When we reached the city of Avalon, the captain anchored beside hundreds of colorful boats and yachts, and schools of bright orange Garibaldi – the California state fish. From here we walked about 10 minutes along the water’s edge, through town, to our room at the Aurora Hotel & Spa.

Located a block from the beach, Aurora combines sleek and modern décor with a cozy Catalina bed and breakfast feel. Our spacious suite featured a large Jacuzzi tub and shower, a comfy king bed, lots of couch seating, flat screen TV, small fridge, free high-speed internet and a free continental breakfast.

interior of one of the rooms at the Aurora Hotel & Spa
Aurora Hotel & Spa combines sleek and modern décor with a cozy Catalina bed and breakfast feel

Once acquainted with our room, we walked up a flight of stairs to the rooftop of Aurora, where a groovy outdoor lounge area awaits guests. Since the hotel sits atop a hill, and we were on the 3rd story, we had a magical, bird’s eye view of the island and ocean.

After relaxing at the hotel, we walked a few minutes to Descanso Beach Club for lunch. Set on the beach, the club serves casual fare and signature cocktails, with incredible ocean-front views. For our lunch we enjoyed a plate of shrimp, Caesar salad, chicken sandwiches and beer, while watching sunbathers and scuba divers a few yards away.

Descanso Beach Club
Set on the beach, Descanso Beach Club serves casual fare and signature cocktails, with incredible ocean-front views

We also had a great view of the historic Casino Building, which 50 years ago used to bring hundreds of people to island each week to see big bands such as Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Gene Autry and other greats play on one of the biggest wooden dance floors the world had yet seen.

After lunch we strolled along the boardwalk to Catalina Sea Spa, which is located on a small side street off the main drag. Along the way we passed the old wooden pier, charming island shops and eateries, and we waved at passengers in the ubiquitous and colorful golf carts that crisscross Avalon.

At Catalina Sea Spa, we met owner Michelle Bray, who told us about her company, which offers full service spa treatments in the heart of island paradise, and is the only spa to offer Ashiatsu, a unique form of Japanese barefoot massage. Spa services also include hot stone, Thai, Swedish, pregnancy, and Lomi-Lomi, a relaxing Hawaiian massage. For treatments, we had two rejuvenating Swedish rubs.

My massage was so soothing, I found myself napping on the beach afterwards. For those who want to take island relaxation to the next level, I highly recommend a visit to Catalina Sea Spa.

massage room at the Catalina Sea Spa
Catalina Sea Spa offers soothing massages on an island paradise

For dinner, we discovered Steve’s Steakhouse. A local favorite featuring steaks, seafood and lamb, Steve’s is located on the 2nd floor of an oceanfront building, with beautiful panoramic harbor views. Our meal began with Oysters Rockefeller, with fresh and hot with spinach, cheese and spices; jumbo shrimp cocktail with spicy sauce and lemon; and Caesar salad. While eating, we met owner Steve Bray, who helped us choose a main course. I went with a big juicy T-bone steak, with rice pilaf and veggies, and my friend had a succulent local swordfish with mashed potatoes.

Steve's Steakhouse
A local Catalina favorite featuring steaks, seafood and lamb, Steve’s Steakhouse boasts great food with beautiful panoramic harbor views

After dinner, we walked along Avalon’s wooden pier, watching seals and fish swim in the clear water and the sun go down behind the casino building. We concluded the evening with a couple Maui Mai Tai’s at Luau Larry’s bar.

In the morning we experienced a thrilling two-hour ride with Zip Line Eco-Tour. This new island attraction propelled us down five separate zip lines dropping from 500 ft to 60 ft above sea level, with one run that is 1,100 lineal-ft-long all on its own. Along the way, we traveled nearly three quarters of a mile above an untamed canyon floor at speeds pushing 45mph.

After the zip-line adventure, I walked to the sandy beach, spread out my towel and relaxed like a baby seal on the deck of a swaying boat in a serene harbor.

baby seal at a harbor, Catalina Island
Catalina Island can have one relaxing like a baby seal in a serene harbor

For more information on visiting Catalina Island, visit:

Related Articles:
Pismo Beach, Catalina Island, Laguna Beach, Orange County Oceanfront, San Luis Obispo, Central California Coast, Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

Name: Required
E-mail: Required
City: Required

Let Greg know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Feedback for Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood to see the Harry Potter "land" is on my bucket list!!

-- Nancy, Hawaii

* * * *

Feedback for A Spring Escape to Maui And Hotel Wailea

I leave here April 21 for Maui and can hardly wait. It'll be my 15th trip, more or less and I love it, and your pictures.

-- Ellie – Port Ludlow, WA

* * * *

Hi Greg,

It's not a forest of banyan trees in Lahaina by the harbor. It's one huge tree, about 140 years old. It's an important landmark of Lahaina, and one of our favorite views.We always stay at the Pioneer Inn, overlooking the harbor and the banyan tree. Every evening thousands of mynah birds fly into the tree, chattering and fluttering until they settle down for the night. Otherwise, great article.

-- Virginia – Northridge, CA

* * * *

Feedback for Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Very nice story, Greg.

-- Maris Somerville – Los Angeles, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought, "Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part – I'm not a morning person – so I had no problem leaving those early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their red snapper for dinner.

Go There

Greg Aragon's travel blog/review
Relaxing at The Inn at Laguna Beach

Greg at Huntington Beach

There is nothing like sleeping in an ocean-front room and awakening to the sounds of waves crashing against the sand. It is one of the finer things in life. And it is exactly what I experienced recently on a memorable getaway to The Inn at Laguna Beach. The adventure began when a friend I pulled off the 5 Freeway in Orange County and took SR 133 south nine miles through winding lush hills and wilderness areas to the ocean.

Go There

Bev Cohn's travel blog
Tim Robbins On His Road To Stardom

Tim Robbins

Award-winning Tim Robbins began his career on episodic television. Robbins' film work, however, is what catapulted him into becoming a major movie star including "Bull Durham" and "Mystic River" for which he won multiple awards. Equally at home behind the camera, he directed the riveting "Dead Man Walking." He is Founder and Artistic Director of The Actors' Gang, which he formed thirty-five years ago and has directed multiple provocative productions.

Go There

© All Rights Reserved. 2015.
This site is designed and maintained by WYNK Marketing. Send all technical issues to:
Friendly Planet Travel

Lovin Life After 50

Big Sur ad

Tara Tours ad

Alaska Cruises & Vacations ad

Cruise One ad

Visit Norway ad

Sitka, Alaska ad

Montreal tourism site

Visit Berlin ad

official website of the Netherlands

Cruise Copenhagen ad

Sun Valley ad

Philippine Department of Tourism portal

Quebec City tourism ad

AlaskaFerry ad

Zurich official website

Zuiderzee Museum ad