The Best Way to Get to Catalina

Jason Daniel Shaw

The Best Way to Get to Catalina

Airport in the Sky – Catalina, CA

By far, the best way to get to Catalina is through the air.  We frequently fly out to Catalina from Santa Monica and it only takes us around 20 minutes.  The airport on Catalina is called Airport in the Sky and rightly so, as it sits on top of a flattened mountain and often resides above the marine layer that likes to roll in during the day.  This leaves you feeling as though you are floating in the sky.

Cessna 172 N84347 at Catalina

Santa Monica Airport – Santa Monica, CA

Last weekend we decided to make the quick trip out to Catalina for something to do on a Saturday afternoon.  Matt was just getting back from a flight so I showed up a little early to get some photos of his landing.  I was able to capture a couple takeoffs/landings before he arrived.  I love the observation deck at the Santa Monica Airport.  If you haven’t been there, check it out!

The plane was ready to go so I decided to attach a couple GoPros and we headed out.  The mini-route across LAX was closed so that meant that we have to climb to 3,500, instead of the normal 2,500 but that just meant a better view of the coastline.  We headed south over LAX and left the California coastline over Palos Verdes.  You could see the marine layer building up.  As we approached Two Harbors at Catalina, the California side of the island was clear but the Pacific side was socked in.  But, the airport sits so high that there was no problem landing.

I love flying out to Catalina because it is so quick and so scenic.  It looks like a tropical island with its beautiful turquoise waters cliffs that just fall off into the ocean.  There are so many coves and inlets to explore.  I still need and want to plan a kayak/camping trip to the island to explore some of its uninhabited coastline.

Airport in the Sky – Catalina, CA

The airport at Catalina has a little gift shop and restaurant.  One of the most popular choices is the Buffalo Burger but I prefer the tri-tip sandwich.  We weren’t hungry so we just opted for ice cream sandwiches.  The airport also provides bus services to other parts of the island, such as Two Harbors and Avalon if you wish to visit.  There is also a variety of wildlife around the airport, even at least one brave and friendly fox and the occasional heard of buffalo.

Before heading back to Santa Monica, I switched the GoPro from the wing to underneath the tail for a different perspective.  As we passed over the cliff at the end of the runway, the ground gave way to a sea of clouds.  We took a quick pass by Two Harbors before crossing the channel back to Palos Verdes. As we got made it back to the mainland, there were great views, once again, down the coast and of the port of LA and Long Beach.

If you live in southern California and have never taken a flight to Catalina, it should be on the top of your list.  The views are spectacular and on top of that, it is just a fun adventure.  Leave me a comment on Instagram and let me know if you have been or have added it to your list.

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