Fond memories about our weekend getaway last fall to Santa Catalina Island and the city of Avalon. Would love to head back during the summer!
So when I think about adventure, I think casual bike ride with the kids. I make my husband swear that their will be no uphill pedaling or the most whining will come from me. When I heard about the Zipline Eco Tour on Catalina Island, I’m not sure what came over me, but I wanted IN on that leap-of-faith adventure. Sure the entire evening before and morning of our activity I had butterflies ready to burst out of my insides, but once you step off that platform you’re about as close to flying without wings as you’ll ever be!
Just a short 10-15 minute walk from our hotel and around the corner from the Casino, you’ll find Descanso Beach. Descanso means relaxation in Spanish and just walking by I can tell on a summer afternoon you’d be feeling it. As we past the beach and head up the hill a bit you’ll find the start and finish of the Zipline Tour. Signing in you fill out some release paperwork, get weighed in (total weight is 245 pounds or less–even if tandem riding with a child, 80lb minimum per rider) and there are lockers for your personal belongings. Cameras are okay if you have a wrist strap, as I hoped my husband would snap and video the experience! My iPhone stayed behind, I didn’t want it at the bottom of the ravine.
Closed toe shoes are required and based on tempermental weather long shorts or pants and layers are good! We zipped at 10am and it was cool on that November morning so I’m glad I didn’t freeze down each line. Each group gets two guides, one that sends you and one that brings you in on the line and they both perform a practice run on the ground with a thorough lesson and plenty of time for questions. We had Charles and Erik and they were both super informative and had a fun sense of humor to try and get us worryworts to relax. Once our gear was on, our harnesses clipped, trolley in hand, we rode in a bus up the hill to the first line. Becky was our bus driver and she is in her late 60’s and mentioned all the crazy adventures she’s done besides ziplining, like jumping out of planes. This made me feel a little better about doing this, I was excited, but still scared. If Becky could do it, I could!
500 feet above Hog’s Back Gate, we started at the first gate. All clipped in, the 4 point check is done and I step off the edge of the platform and am told to take a big step, my leap of faith. I did and I immediately left all my worries behind and felt the rush of wind in my face as I sat back, held on and pulled my feet into the “cannonball” position. Once I got to the end you hear that clap of plastic and metal colliding and you’ll pulled into standing and it’s done, I’ve done it. I flew like a bird, kinda but what an amazing rush! My husband went first to capture photos and film. On the line with direct view of the water, we were able to let our legs go out straight and turn sideways (one hand off the trolley), I did turn, but only took my hand off the trolley for a second. Having them both off won’t allow you to fall by any means, but having them there does steer you, so we only got to “play” a few quick times.
The second line was the longest at 1,045′ and we were also taught what happens if it’s windy and we need to slow down or if we don’t make it all the way to the end. Well on that second line, I fell short. The rescue line didn’t reach me so I hung there for about 5 minutes stuck about 2/3 of the way down. I awaited the second rescue attempt where they send sandbags down and manually pull me in. If anyone it had to be me that got stuck, but hey that hang time had spectacular views! Sure I had some fleeting moments where I thought I’d be there forever, but never did fear of falling. Here I am redeeming myself on line 3, thus the hand pump!
Throughout the tour, the guides are keeping us motivated, laughing, but also sharing history and ecology of the island and letting us know how they are soon going to be hosting nighttime zipline tours that will hopefully bring even more adventure-seekers to the island!5 lines for $109 on weekends ($99 during the week) is an amazing steal for the thrill of a lifetime, it’s a check off your bucket list and doing it with my husband supporting me was so important to me. Each line still had me with butterflies, but once you step off the platform you soar like nothing you’ve ever experienced. At the end of your adventure on the last line there is a photo-op spot to pose and pictures are available for purchase when you get back to the station. The two-hour adventure is one that I look forward to doing again. The views were amazing and it’s one of those times in your life where you’re riding that high feeling for days afterwards!
Our adventure was hosted, gratuity was ours. All opinions are our own and not influenced by compensation.
Just a 5 minute walk once disembarking from the Catalina Express, you’ll walk right up to the Pavilion Hotel. The hotel is surrounded by the registration area, a beautiful courtyard with heaters and beach view seating, a lovely fire ring surrounded by comfortable seats, and lounge chairs. On the other side the Pavilion Wine Bar that triples as the continental breakfast area and library is lovely decorated in a beach theme and nautical prints. Centrally located in Avalon each room is crisp white with yellow and navy accents that is just so fitting for the area.
We had an early arrival to the island, so the hotel checked us in and kindly held our luggage until proper check in which is usually 3pm. Our phone call came that our room was ready and our luggage was taken to our room on the second floor. Wireless internet, a flat screen television, an iHome music center and roomy accommodations awaited us.The day we arrived it was cloudy and cool, so the heaters in the patio and the fire pit were a welcome refuge during the bonus wine half hour. This is a wonderful addition to comfortable accommodations. Both white and red wines from California were served (one was Ravenswood where we’ve even visited and tasted there) with a plateful of wonderful cheeses and bread. It was wonderful coming out and joining other guests and relaxing and not worrying about driving afterwards, it brings the hotel community and the staff is so very generous. If your children are joining you, the snacks are available as well as lemonade!Even another perk staying at the Pavilion, complimentary check out of an Apple iPad to use while you relax in the patio. Looking for a dining spot, a specific activity on the island or just needing to check into your email, you can as at the registration desk and use the iPad for an hour or two. Something great for your kids to use if they’ve come along and you’re enjoying your wine hour. I love that the hotel is up on modern technology!
Saturday morning was lovely and beautiful, here’s the view from our front window. Continental breakfast is included each morning to enjoy in the library or the patio, or even bring back to your room. Fresh fruits, breads, cereal, juices, and Starbucks coffee will wake you up and get you ready for your day!
If you’re looking for a great place to eat, the Avalon Grille is affiliated with the Pavilion Hotel and is just about a handful of buildings down the street. Featuring classic American comfort food with a twist, you can eat in or slightly out (heaters) and still enjoy the scenic Avalon Bay. Nightly specials, a full bar, and either casual or dressy attire is completely acceptable. My husband and I shared wine, bread, Carrot Soup, and twin Filet Mignon that was out of this world! A $50 price tag was well worth the flavors and atmosphere.
I’ve told so many people already about the Pavilion Hotel on Catalina Island, it’s so wonderful, comfortable, and accessible to the rest of the quaint town, it’ll be my number one choice to promote on the island being so inclusive. I love so many of their decorating ideas (ladder in restroom can go anywhere and hold anything like photos) and the cabinet structure in the library/wine bar. I can’t wait to go back!
We were hosted for 2 nights at the hotel while our dinner was paid by us. All opinions are our own and not influenced by any source!
Just 22 miles west of Long Beach, California you’ll find the adorable Santa Catalina Island. Back in 1945, my husband’s grandparents ferried out and enjoyed their honeymoon. 66 years later, my husband and I enjoy our 15th wedded year touring the quaint and beautiful town of Avalon. What I love is that you get off the ferry and can walk anywhere you need to be. If you need to get there quicker, rent a bike or a golf cart, but you see so few cars, this historic beach island is a perfection vacation spot to “get away from it all.”
Taking the Catalina Express from Long Beach, you sit in seats just like an airplane but with roomier space and plenty of moving around. A bar for drinks (alcoholic and non-) as well as snacks are provided for a small fee across the hour long trip with monitors of your GPS location and even the Sunday football game on our return. The weather was perfect on the way over, though completely opposite and story the way home. If you get seasick, I suggest a Dramamine as my husband took, the motion of the ocean can play tricks on you!
Getting it’s name from Spanish explorer Don Sebastian Viscaino, Santa Catalina was named for Saint Catherine of Alexandria in the 1600’s. In 1894, the Banning Brothers purchased Catalina Island and formed the Catalina Island Company building roads and attractions on the interior of the island. The Avalon Tuna Club was founded on the island, an old US fishing club, soon Cecil B DeMille, John Wayne, and Winston Churchill headed to the out most likely leading to the influx of Hollywood filming of more thank 300 movies and television shows.
In 1915, William Wrigley, chewing gum magnate, purchased the controlling interest in the island and brought his team there for spring training as well as using his wealth to make Avalon the resort location it is now. The Casino, which means “meeting place” isn’t actually a casino, but a huge art-deco designed ballroom and movie theater that today hosts first run movies and during our trip a jazz/swing dance competition. My husband and loved the views from indoors as well as watching Breaking Dawn following a feature organist playing old songs as well as those of historic Disney.
During our stay we learned about the native animals (miniature fox), bison, and bald eagles that fly above as well as witnessing a red-tail hawk near Descanso Beach (which means relaxation in Spanish). The streets are filled with unique gift shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, bars that include fun karaoke nights, hotels,arcades and even 2 Von’s stores. The locals live in gorgeous beach style homes with paitos and balconies for those warm spring and summer days. Some of the residential streets were closed off to even golf carts to preserve gorgeous daily walks through the brick-paved streets. My husband and I laid claim on our dream retirement home.
Plenty of water (scuba, snorkle, submarine, boat rides, fishing) and land activities are abundant and I’ll be writing a whole post on the island’s new Zip-line adventure attraction. Year-round you’ll love to visit Santa Catalina Island with your loved one, family, or make it a girl’s weekend, it’s relaxed nature and near tropical daily life is one to truly remember.