Travel Destinations

Catalina Island, California - You Won't Be Disappointed

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October 2015
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By
Capt. Jeff
Werner

Catalina. Just the name conjures up the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930s. Movie moguls, famous actors, actresses and directors were all frequent visitors to Catalina Island aboard their yachts or at the Hotel St. Catherine. Cecil B. DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Betty Grable, Jimmy Cagney, Johnny Weissmuller and Irving Thalberg lead the roster of stars and celebrities whose comings and goings were grist for the gossip columns of the day.It was William Wrigley, Jr., whose wealth came from his family's chewing gum fortune, who spent millions during the 1920s to develop Catalina Island as a tourist destination. Wrigley was also the principal owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, and the Cubs used the island for their spring training for 30 years, starting in 1921.Today, standing on the end of the Santa Monica Pier on a clear day, Santa Catalina Island rises 30 nautical miles to the south across San Pedro Channel. It is easy to spot, even from that distance, because the tallest point on the island is a mountain 2,097 feet high.Throughout the year, Catalina Island hosts a variety of special events, such as festivals, concerts, parades and workshops for all ages and interests. No matter when you visit, there will be no shortage of new experiences to be discovered.

GETTING THERE BY BOAT

Catalina is an easy day cruise from any of the marinas in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Navigation is straightforward and the only time additional precautions should be taken are during fog, highwinds or winter storms. The island has three ports of call: Avalon Bay, Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor. There are no transient overnight docks on Catalina Island, but all three harbors contain mooring fields. Call Catalina Island Moorings or contact the harbor patrol on VHF Channel 9.

WHERE TO DINE

  • The Avalon Grille (423 Crescent Ave., 310-510-7494), overlooking Avalon Bay, showcases environmentally responsible, fresh seafood.
  • Descano Fresh (1 Descanso Ave., 877-778-9399), a gourmet espresso bar and cafe, located at the Beach Club, serves homemade breakfast pastries, fresh pressed juices and spiked ice cream confections.
  • Harbor Reef Restaurant (Catalina Isthmus, 310-510-4215), located in Two Harbors, serves the freshest and tastiest local seafood, with a breathtaking harbor view from the patio.
  • Luau Larry's (509 Crescent Ave., 310-510-1919) located just steps from the Avalon harbor, offering live music and entertainment, delicious food and popular libations such as the Wiki Wacker and the Buffalo Milk.

WHAT TO DO

  • The Island Spa Catalina (163 Crescent Ave., 310-510-7300) offering a variety of treatments and rejuvenating therapies using island-grown ingredients.
  • The Descanso Beach Club (1 Descanso Ave., 310-510-7410) one of the last private beaches in California with public access. The open-air restaurant offers lunch and dinner with fire rings on the beach and two popular, beachside bars.
  • Outdoor Activities - Snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing are the top water activities. West Spot Rentals is in Avalon and Little Harbor. Hiking, zip lining and mountain biking the undeveloped trails are the best ways to see the island (and you might even spot the native Island Fox or bison). Catalina Island Cape Canyon Expedition is the perfect off-road adventure to experience the rugged outback.
Related Articles
Cruise to Virginia's Historic Triangle
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Imagine you were Rip Van Winkle in reverse. You’ve nodded off for 400 years rather than 20. Now, you wake up to find yourself on the deck of a wooden sailing ship off the coast of Virginia. “Your first thought would be to look for a source of freshwater,” tells Steve Ormsby, administrator of The Watermen’s
Museum in Yorktown. “Then, it would have been protection, up a river, and at the same time finding deep water where you could tie up to the trees and row ashore. Your fellow passengers would have been tradesmen, merchants and craftsmen, skills needed to establish a settlement but not live in the wilderness. Still, you wouldn’t have gone hungry at first. Captain John Smith wrote in his journal that the oysters he found were the size of dinner plates.”


Fast forward to the historic triangle of Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown, which is among America’s first settlements and easy to reach by water. It’s a beautiful sail or motor from the Atlantic Ocean across the Chesapeake Bay to the James or York Rivers. Once here, explore ashore and offshore, too. Here’s a sampling of five top stops.

1. VISIT THE WATERMAN’S MUSEUM


Located on the Yorktown waterfront, upriver from the Riverwalk Landing marina, dining and shopping area, this nonprofit museum is a treasure trove of nautical history. Exhibits narrate how local watermen helped defeat the British in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Yorktown with their local knowledge to help pilot the ships, as well
as the local watermen’s way of life as commercial fishermen.

“One of the focal points at the museum is the Windmill. Built in 1711, it was used to grind corn, but after that it stood as a waymark for ships sailing the York River,” says Ormsby. In April, the museum re-opened for the season with six new 10-foot by 10-foot kiosks in the Windmill Lot. These interactive displays feature ropemaking, pottery, candle making, boatbuilding and woodwork, sail making, and blacksmithing. The museum also runs an award-winning summer camp, with a pirate-themed environmental camp for kids in grades K to 5, and hands-on camps for those in grades 3 to 8 focused on boatbuilding, an archaeological beach dig and maritime trades. watermens.org

2. SET SAIL ON THE SCHOONER ALLIANCE

Cast off from Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing Pier on this 105-foot gaff-rigged schooner. There are three two-hour sightseeing cruises daily. Along the way, see the historic Victory Monument and Battlefield, working watermen plying their trade as they did years ago, and perhaps a modern naval ship or school of dolphins. The Alliance’s sails are set traditionally with block and tackle, and passengers are welcome to help. The crew provides narration
and sea stories along the way. sailyorktown.com/schooner-alliance.html

3. TAKE A WALK ON THE RIVERWALK SIDE


You’ll find many historical markers along Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing, a mile-long pedestrian path from the Battlefield to the American Revolution Museum, making this
an educational and entertaining stroll. “Many of the markers involve the water, specifically the Battle of Yorktown and the Middle Passage,” says Gail Whittaker, public information officer for York County, VA. “If you’re lucky, you might see an opening of the Coleman Bridge that crosses the river and joins Yorktown with Gloucester County. It is the largest double-swing-span bridge in the United States and the second largest in the world! The Naval Weapons Station Yorktown is just upriver from our waterfront. It’s awesome to see the bridge swing open as one of our marvelous Navy ships glides by.” visityorktown.org/153/Riverwalk-Landing

4. SHUCK INTO A SEAFOOD SUPPER

You might not find oysters the size of dinner plates, but you can fill your dish with fresh seafood in Colonial Williamsburg. Try Berret’s Seafood Restaurant & Taphouse Grill, located in Merchant’s Square. There’s she-crab soup for starters, seasonal specialties like lemon pepper-crusted grouper fillet and seared sea scallops, and signature entrees such as The Original Blue Plate: sauteed backfin crabcake, baked oysters Rockefeller and grilled shrimp. The oyster bar features shucked Victory Point
York River Oysters on the half shell. berrets.com

5. SETTLE BACK IN JAMESTOWN

There is likely nowhere better for colonial history buffs to spend a day indoors and outdoors than in the living history museum that is this settlement. Films and exhibits portray the lives of Virginia’s Native Americans, the first English settlers, and the initial arrival of West Africans, all three here in the early 17th century. The most fun is to climb on board replicas of the three ships on which the first English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607 — the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery — and imagine you’re onboard. historicjamestowne.org

CELEBRATE THE 4TH OF JULY

European settlers planted roots in the Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown over a century before the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 up north in Philadelphia. Yet, it’s the wealth of national history and its preservation that makes this area one of the best places to celebrate this summer holiday.

Independence Day Celebration

Riverwalk Landing & Historic Yorktown
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Early birds start the day with a 5K walk or 8K run. The patriotic parade follows with the best viewing spots along Water and Main Streets. Bring your flags to wave and toe-tap to the Fifes & Drums corps beat. At 1 p.m., a hot dog eating contest is hosted by Toby’s Dog House in Jamestown, with a satellite location in Yorktown’s Water Street. Patriotic concerts start after dark, culminating in a firework display over the York River. Watch from the Yorktown Waterfront & Victory Monument at 803 Main Street or anchor out and see the sparklers reflected in the water.

July 4th Celebration

Colonial Williamsburg
9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Immerse yourself in all things independence during a day-long of activities. Stand at the Capitol West Balcony to hear Thomas Jefferson read the Declaration of Independence. A special military muster in Market Square, concert of celebration at the Play House Stage, historical reflections re-enacted throughout the day, free ice cream, and live music on the Lawn of the Art Museums culminate in the Lights of Freedom Fireworks Display at 9:20 p.m. The best places for viewing are the East Lawn of the Art Museum, the Palace Green and Market Square.

Regional Marinas

Riverwalk Landing Piers
Yorktown, VA

The heart of Yorktown’s waterfront is within walking distance of historic sights, shops and dining. There are no individual slips here, but all piers are dedicated to transient and temporary stay boaters. Facilities include shore power in 30, 50 and 100 amp, pump-out and private key coded boater restrooms with showers. No fuel is available. The busiest times are May-June and September-October. To reserve docking, email dockmaster@yorkcounty.gov or call 757-890-3370.

York River Yacht Haven
Gloucester Point, VA


This Suntex Marinas property is located at the mouth of Sarah Creek, opposite Yorktown, in a 14-acre rural storm-protected area. The full-service facility boasts 280 slips accommodating boats up to 160’. Transients can enjoy amenities including fuel, laundry services, free Wi-Fi and a freshwater pool.

Kingsmill Marina
Williamsburg, VA


Along the James River, the marina at Kingsmill Resort offers a tranquil getaway with activities on-site. Enjoy everything from lush golf courses to upscale amenities and lodging at Cottages on the James or The Estate at Kingsmill’s private mansion. The marina offers annual slip leases for vessels up to 80’ depending on beam width.


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Explore the Spirited Lakefront of Burlington, VT
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A vibrant, compact city hugging the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington abounds in scenic beauty, four-season recreation, a college town vibe, arts and culture, and a quirky character all its own.

Burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Eclectic shops named Anjou & the Little Pear or Common Deer, and restaurants called Zabby & Elf 's Stone Soup or The Skinny Pancake dot the urban landscape. A local artist's satirical comment on the bureaucracy of urban planning called File Under So. Co., Waiting for..., consists of 38 filing cabinets welded together to a 40-foot height. Birds frequently nest in the upper chambers.

History buffs stroll through the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum or the Fleming Museum of Art's multi-era artifact collection while hikers trek the 12.5-mile path at Burlington Waterfront Park, which offers bicycle, rollerblade and kayak rentals. In season, the path connects to the Lake Champlain Islands via bike ferry.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Bike Path | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Since the 1800s, the Old North End has been the city's melting pot, and global cuisine from Nepalese dumplings to the African Market can be found here today. Between munches, stroll over to historic Elmwood Cemetery, whose residents include Revolutionary War soldiers. Hear their stories and perhaps have a chance encounter with a local spirit on a Queen City Ghostwalk Tour. Liquid spirits rule when the internationally famous, regionally beloved and hidden gem breweries line up for the annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Year round, enjoy homemade bratwurst and drafts at Zero Gravity Craft Beer. At acclaimed Foam Brewers, the patio faces Lake Champlain waterfront and the Adirondack Mountains. Hop on the Sip of Burlington Brew Tour for a dozen tastings and the sights of this dynamic, energetic city.

Where to Dock

Burlington Community Boathouse Marina

802-865-3377

This full-service marina is the centerpiece of a growing waterfront. Amenities include 105 slips up to 65 feet, Splash Café and a fantastic sunset over the Adirondacks.

Burlington Harbor Marina

802-540-6869

With 160 slips (60 transient slips up to 80 feet), this new marina's tranquil harbor setting is convenient to downtown amenities and recreational activities.

Where to Dine

Honey Road

802-497-2145

Savor sophisticated Mediterranean small plates, cocktails and creative desserts in a comfy tavern setting.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Needpix

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill

802-859-0888

This farm-to-table gastropub dishes up local burgers, charcuterie and innovative specials. Sip on local brews in the beer garden.

RíRá

802-860-9401

According to Irish playwright Brendan Behan, The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you. RíRá fuses classic Irish with pub grub to satisfy the first two.

Leunig's Bistro & Café

802-863-3759

Step inside the lush garden courtyard to watch fresh local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood transform into classic French dishes. Come enjoy a romantic evening meal.

Hen of the Wood

802-540-0534

Enjoy a true Vermont dining experience in a romantic, rustic atmosphere adjacent to the Hotel Vermont.

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Discover the Island Charm of Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts
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Ever wish you could hop in a time machine and go back 50 or 60 years to experience a less frenetic pace of life? It's not as far-fetched as it might sound. There's a place off the coast of Massachusetts where you can do just that ... at least for a weekend.

Cuttyhunk Island - destinations - marinalife
Cuttyhunk Island | tkesner1 on Flickr

"It's like 1960 --you're stepping back in time," notes Captain Jono Billings, who owns and operates the Cuttyhunk Ferry out of New Bedford, about 18 miles north of Cuttyhunk Island, a 580-acre arc of stone and sand that's the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands that lie between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound.

For such a small place, Cuttyhunk has a long, colorful history. In 1602 --nearly 20 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock -- Bartholomew Gosnold sailed from Falmouth, England to establish a colony in the New World, explored the areas near present-day Kennebunkport, Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, and built a small fort on what he christened Cuttyhunk Island.

A 70-foot stone tower was constructed in 1902 commemorating the 300th anniversary of that historic landing. After passing through the hands of several English earls and dukes, Peleg Slocum purchased the island in 1693, and her family continued to live on Cuttyhunk for the next 165 years.

In 1865, a group of Rhode Island fishing enthusiasts bought a large portion of the island and built the Cuttyhunk Club and a few fishing stands, enhancing its reputation as a prime spot for sport fishing. In fact, two 73-pound, world-record striped bass have been caught off Cuttyhunk in 1913 and more recently in 1967.

Local fishermen know all the qualities and quirks of the area's waters, offering their services to visiting anglers and acting as expert navigators for ships sailing into New Bedford Harbor, piloting them through the dangerous Sow and Pig Reef on the west end of the island.

Cuttyhunk Island - destinations - marinalife
Cuttyhunk Island | Ben McLaughlin

Fishing isn't the only way to interact with nature on Cuttyhunk. Half the island is a nature preserve, home to a variety of birds and mammals, as well as wildflowers, sweet peas, bayberry and a host of other flora. Plenty of hiking trails wind through the landscape that's largely craggy and reflects Cuttyhunk's glacial origins. It's covered with the same kind of rocks and stones found in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Although largely a day-tripper destination, visitors can overnight on Cuttyhunk with some advance planning. Most boaters prefer to stay aboard their own craft if properly outfitted, but limited accommodations are on land as well. Avalon, the Inn on Cuttyhunk Island, offers seven rooms, while Cuttyhunk Fishing Club has eight. A few cottage and house rentals are also available through Pete's Place Rentals.

Where to Dock

Cuttyhunk Marina

508-990-7578

The marina offers 50 transient slips that can accommodate vessels up to 110 feet and have freshwater hookups and 30- and 50-amp electricity capability. About 50 moorings accommodate vessels up to 50 feet. Pump out, ice, picnic area and restrooms are available.

Frog Pond Marine Moorings

508-992-7530

This mooring field is located in the outer harbor off the port side of Bell 6 upon entering Cuttyhunk. Bright white balls mark the moorings, which are first-come, first-serve. Tie up to any mooring that doesn't say PRIVATE, and the mooring collector will come to your boat to collect a $45 rental fee.

Jenkins Moorings

508-996-9294

Located in the outer harbor to the right of the channel's entrance, moorings are first-come, first-serve during the high season. If you spend the night, call and they'll deliver fresh oysters and raw-bar items to your boat.

Where to Dine

Cuttyhunk Café

508-802-8633

This coffee shop is located on the town fish dock. Start your day with coffee and pastries, pick up chowder and sandwiches for lunch, and finish the day chowing down on fresh lobster boils with corn, potatoes, onion, chorizo and steamers.

Cuttyhunk Fishing Club

508-992-5585

Just south of town on Cemetery Road, this B&B offers the best breakfasts/brunches on the island, and you don't have to be a guest to enjoy it. They don't take reservations, so grab a cup of coffee and an Adirondack chair while you wait for your table and enjoy the porch with a million-dollar view.

Cuttyhunk Island Market

508-538-1218

Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., this rustic spot offers all the essentials: dry goods, sundries, bread, dairy, fresh veggies, plus 10-inch subs with a bag of chips. We may be small, but we have it all.

Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms

508-990-1317

This floating raw bar provides fresh Cuttyhunk oysters and clams, along with stuffed quahog and hot clam chowder to boaters during the summer, delivered right to your boat. Call them on VHF Channel 72 or stop in at their shack on the fish dock during the day to place your order.

Soprano's Pizza

508-992-7530

The only sit-down restaurant on Cuttyhunk, this in-season eatery serves gourmet brick oven pizzas and seafood specials. Think a pizza oven held hostage in a garage, four picnic tables in a driveway lit by tiki torches, and a croaking bullfrog in the pond! Can't beat that kind of ambiance.

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