Mary and I took our family to Catalina over the weekend of May 19th. We were able to book a pair of adjoining rooms in the Hotel Vincentes. The Vincentes is a ramshackle place which has been remodeled more times than Elizabeth Taylor's been married. The rooms are compact, but comfortable. There is also space to rinse gear in the courtyard. Before going, you will want to inquire about your hotel's policy towards dive gear. Hotel Vicentes didn't seem to care, but Hotel Catalina won't let you bring it in the room.
We limited ourselves to shore diving on this trip. The shore diving within Avalon, is confined to Casino Point. There is a nice looking snorkel-only area, but we didn't try that.
Casino Point is very nice indeed. Ingress and egress are easy thanks to a staircase which leads right into the water. Once in the water, kelp and fish were quite abundant. Visibility was a pleasant 30 feet. Alas, other divers were also abundant. Weekdays are definitely the preferred diving days here. That said, this site must be worth at least 5 or 6 dives.
On day 2, we rented kayaks for a paddle down the coast. The scenery is well worth the effort. We also saw luxuriant kelp, several varieties of pelagic jellies, and a 10" jellyfish.
Our biggest gripe about Catalina is the food. To much money for too little quality. The restaurants we tried had uniformly indifferent service, and variable food quality. The best place was the lunch counter between the casino and the fuel dock. Good burgers and fair prices. I just wish they served dinner.
At the end of the weekend, we all felt like we'd go back again. This would also make a good destination for a group trip if you rented one of the condos that sleep 10 and have a kitchen.
Copyright 2000, David Ambrose All rights reserved.
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