Catalina Island is good in theory. It’s only a short hour ferry ride away from Long Beach or Dana Point and sounds like the perfect place to take a break from LA, with the promise of beaches and fun activities. While it is just that for some people, it wasn’t that for me personally - and maybe that’s because I visited during the off-season. When I shared my thoughts and experience on Catalina Island, I got a lot of messages. Some accused me of being unfair to the little island while most agreed with me wholeheartedly. So you can make up your own mind, I’ve decided to include some of the feedback I got via DM from people who have gone to Catalina themselves.
I’ve also shared some photos from my disposable taken Catalina Island. Disclaimer: the photos look a lot better than the experience itself. ;)
WHAT WE DID
Visited the botanical garden. Took a nap because I had to take dramamine on the ferry ride. Got ice cream and frozen bananas on the pier. Rented a golf cart to drive around the island. Ate at The Pancake Cottage, Antonio’s Pizza and another little cafe that sold avocado toast. Looked for cell service and working wifi… I work in social media - these are necessary for me!
WHAT WE DIDN’T DO
Drink, which would have been handy as there are lots of those commercial American bar type restaurants. Do a bison tour or feed the bison, as suggested to us. Watch a movie (which is the only thing our bus driver suggested we do when asked what is there to do around Catalina) because How to Train Your Dragon was the only thing playing. Mini golf, another popular suggestion. Water sports because it was too cold. Zip line / hike because I’m just not that kind of girl. Go to cute mom & pop shops / cafes because there are none.
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY
I think ever though there’s not much to do during off season besides hike & camp, a lot of people like to go and detox. Also it’s not always about aesthetic and charm for people. I definitely agree that if you’re going for the IG post it’s probably not worth it, but for people such as myself it’s a really nice escape from the city. I do think it’s a place to recommend to people, it just depends on interest… I feel it’s absolutely beautiful there
Wow you’re really hating on Catalina and I think it’s really unfair. When I was there for a day I had a lovely time and it is truly beautiful. I don’t think it deserves the negativity you’re throwing at it
My fiance was doing work for Catalina Island and he says your assessment is spot on hahaha
I went once and the whole time all I could think is how much potential this place has but it was so underwhelming and not charming. At all.
I was so not impressed with Catalina! Someone needs to flip it
Tbh I was not a fan either. I’ve given it three chances. It’s not fun/cute/cool whatsoever lol. I can’t believe you derived the photos you did there
Honestly I went there once and immediately wished I could walk on water back to my car
I had fun with my boyfriend’s family because we were drinking but that’s it! we ended up just going to the arcade. I could have done the same thing in Laguna
Yooo thank you for saying all this. I’ve worked with them and honestly they want to keep it like a Sandals Resort. Catalina could be the next Palm Springs but the ownership wants to keep it in the past. We were so frustrated too.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Catalina Island has so much POTENTIAL. It could be really amazing if it had little unique cafes and cute boutique hotels. I would not personally suggest it, as someone who likes aesthetic and charm. Besides the little area of Descanso and the view of the water, I felt everything was commercial and a bit tacky. If you like to jet ski, snorkel, hike, zip line, etc. I could see it being great in the summer! But when locals suggest mini golf and a movie as the top things to do, you kind of know it’s not lit. I myself would rather just drive 2 hours to Palm Springs for the 80th time than getting on a ferry for little to do and pretty bad restaurant options.