If you go
THE BEST WAY TO CATALINA
By sea: Catalina Express offers frequent daily trips of about one hour from Long Beach and San Pedro to Avalon, Catalina's main town, and less frequently from Dana Point to Avalon and from San Pedro to Two Harbors. Round-trip adult fare is $74.50, $2 more for the Dana Point trip. (800) 481-3470, http://www.catalinaexpress.com.
Catalina Flyer makes one round trip daily between Newport Beach and Avalon, departing at 9 a.m. from Balboa Pavilion and returning at 4:30 p.m. The trip is 75 minutes each way; passengers have about six hours to explore the island. Adult round-trip fare is $70. (800) 830-7744, http://www.catalinainfo.com.
By air: Island Express has 15-minute helicopter flights daily from Long Beach, San Pedro and Santa Ana from 8 a.m. to sunset. Fares from $250 to $390 per person round trip, depending on location. (800) 228-2566, http://www.islandexpress.com.
WHERE TO STAY
Campgrounds are located in Avalon and Two Harbors and at four backcountry sites. (877) 778-1487, http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/camping-and-boating. In addition, boat-in sites are available. Camping fees are $21 per night for adults; an additional $25 is charged if reservations are made by phone instead of online. Tent cabins and equipment rental available.
Many Catalina accommodations require a two-night stay on weekends in season.
Pavilion Hotel, 513 Crescent Ave., Avalon; (877) 778-8322 or (310) 510-1788, http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com. Rooms are small but well-appointed at this renovated bayfront motel. Wine bar, fire pit and garden. Great location; complimentary breakfast and afternoon wine and cheese. Doubles from $227 during the low season; during high season (July and August) doubles start at $365 per night.
Old Turner Inn, 232 Catalina Ave., Avalon; (310) 510-2236, http://www.oldturnerinn.com. Victorian-style bed and breakfast is friendly and low-key, full of antiques, early Catalina photos and a baby grand piano. All rooms have baths. Full breakfasts included. Doubles in June from $190, in-season from $250 per night.
Hotel Metropole, 205 Crescent Ave., Avalon; (310) 510-1884 or (800) 541-8528, http://www.hotel-metropole.com. Some waterfront views; most of the 52 rooms have fireplaces and balconies. Doubles in season from $229.
WHERE TO EAT
Bluewater Avalon, 306 Crescent Ave., Avalon; (310) 510-3474, http://www.bluewatergrill.com. This year-old seafood restaurant has the best waterfront location in town. Large variety of fresh fish, plus fish tacos, burgers, salads. Entrees $16.50 to $47.50. Try the lemon pepper mahi mahi ($23.95).
Maggie's Blue Rose, 417B Crescent Ave., Avalon; (310) 510-3300, http://www.maggiesbluerose.com. New upscale Mexican restaurant offers warm-from-the-griddle handmade tortillas, eight types of margaritas and innovative dishes. Try the street tacos, $12-$19, or watermelon and grilled shrimp salad, $12. Entrees $14-32. Sister restaurant to the popular Steve's Steakhouse.
DC-3 Grill, 1 Airport Road; (310) 510-2196, http://www.catalinadc3.com. Known its buffalo burgers and homemade cookies. You can also get regular beef, chicken, and vegetarian burgers, other sandwiches, and Mexican specialties, including buffalo tacos. From $5.95.
TO LEARN MORE