Isla de la juventud

As the boat slowed on its approach toward the dock, I couldn’t help but hear El Beny sing, “Cuando a Varadero llegué, conocí la felicidad…”

Only it wasn’t Varadero, it was Catalina and she was glistening.

There’s nothing like leaving the crowd and noise of the city behind. Although its only 22 miles off of the coast, I felt a thousand years away from traffic and parking woes. The only bustle came from passengers rolling their suitcases on the cobblestone and the only hustle was to rent a golf cart to fully explore paradise.

And honestly, you don’t even need the golf cart. You can easily walk the main oceanfront strip and pop into tacky souvenir stores between bar-hopping and buy all of the things you don’t need. I did this all the way to the end of the strip where the round Catalina Casino sits like a fortress. It’s a movie theater/concert hall and not a real casino, so my dreams of playing Bingo! were shattered. They do offer historical tours of the building, just be sure to sign-up in advance.

Speaking of tours, so many are available and highly suggested if you want to make the most of your time – and most especially if you enjoy active adventures like zip lining and snorkeling.

Your time in Catalina is what you make of it. Whether you bring the dominoes and relax all day or go fishing and diving, there’s something for everyone on this little island.

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If you go: The Catalina Express takes you to Catalina Island in just an hour. Boats depart ports in Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point.

Tira la casa por la ventana: To arrive con tremenda pinta, fly in on a helicopter or private plane…or even  sail over on a private boat.

How long to stay?: You could go for the day, but to truly soak it up stay one or two nights. For this adventure, I stayed a few blocks off the main strip at Casa Mariquita and it was perfectly alright.

 

 

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