5 Reasons to Visit Catalina in the Off Season

Photo credit Roger Meadows.

Photo by Roger Meadows

Catalina Island will take a lifetime to reveal all her secrets, but one of the best ways to learn more about this fascinating island is to visit in the slower winter months between November and March. The Catalina off season experience provides a unique vacation, whether you are looking for peace and quiet or pulse-pounding adventure. Here are just a few of the many inducements that Avalon offers in the off-season.

Nature: Whether you are looking to spot breaching gray whales or soaring bald eagles on your Southern California vacation, Catalina Island is the place to do it. Dappled with wildflowers in the early spring or greened by winter rains, the natural wonders of the island are much easier to appreciate when you are here, when everyone else isn’t.

Projects: Do you have a novel just waiting to be written – or read? How about a craft project that you’ll finish Some Day? Maybe you have an annual report to put together and need to eliminate the normal office distractions. A Catalina getaway may be just the inspiration you need to get it done.

Events: Catalina Island events are intriguing and varied throughout the off season. Endurance events dot the calendar in November, January and March. An air show and a swing dance festival bring late fall to life. The holiday season brings plenty of Christmas cheer at Shop at Home night. In the early spring you won’t want to miss the treasure hunt atmosphere of the Avalon Harbor Underwater Clean-up or the black tie elegance at An Evening With Oscar.

Peace and romance: Winter on Catalina Island brings with it a slower pace of life that invites you to relax and unwind. Curl up with a good book, get a massage or cook an intricate meal, no matter what you do in the off season you’ll be able to do it at a pace that reminds you what’s truly important in life. Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a chance to reconnect and rekindle the romance, a Catalina Island getaway is one of the most romantic things to do in Los Angeles County.

Weather: Catalina Island weather is rarely severe and when it is, you don’t want to miss it. Periodically, Santa Ana winds blow through Southern California, pushing water before them across the channel. By the time they reach Avalon Harbor, that power has been transformed into high surf that crashes into town in a spectacular display of nature that must be seen to be believed. Winter also brings rainstorms that are perfect for a fireplace and a good book as well as crystal clear air that showcases the snow on the Southern California mainland.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals New Office

CIVR CIRE New office sign

Moving is never easy. Packing tape and boxes, electronic logistics and rearranging furniture are enough to give anyone a headache. For us, however, it was all worth it.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals and our sister company, Catalina Island Real Estate, recently moved back into our old location in the Atwater Arcade. While it’s in the same place it used to be, that’s where the similarities end. The office has been completely redesigned and redecorated to be more effective for us and more welcoming for you.

The two companies are now sharing space, which allows us to work together to serve our guests and our clients. After all, many of our vacation rental guests fall in love with the island and go on to become our real estate clients and so many of our real estate clients then become vacation rental owners. The synergy between our two companies is further emphasized in the office by our dramatic new accent wall, which is painted a vivid navy blue and features the two companies’ names in elegant brushed aluminum.

Although this renovated office doesn’t have quite the ocean view that our temporary office did, it soon will feature some fascinating historic photos from our friends at the Catalina Island Museum.

Our new office space is just the start of what’s happened in the Atwater Arcade. You’ll also find new shops, new architecture and in the near future, a coffee shop serving light breakfast and lunch as well as gourmet coffees and desserts.

We hope to see you soon.

Babyproofing Your Vacation Rental



Family vacations create memories to last a lifetime, but if you have little ones with you, all parents know the extra precautions that one must take to babyproof your vacation rental to ensure a fun-filled and accident-free stay.  CIVR’s experienced reservation agents will be your best resource when choosing a property that will accommodate your family and ensure you have a great time.

When booking your vacation rental, make sure to let your reservation agent know you will be traveling with an infant/toddler/small child so they can recommend properties that will be a good fit for your group. Also, there are companies on the Island that rent baby equipment such as cribs, car seats, high chairs, strollers, etc., so you don’t have to bring all these items with you.

Once you arrive at your vacation rental for your stay, do a quick sweep of the property and baby-proof.  Look out for electrical outlets, things that your little one can reach and pull down and any cleaning supplies that may be located in lower cabinets. It’s best to bring a few extra outlet covers from  home and move all fragile and toxic items to higher ground.  Getting this task out of the way right when you arrive ensures you don’t have to stress about it throughout your stay, and you can transition right in to relaxation mode!

Guest Post: A Family Tradition

We have another CIVR guest blog post to bring you from a long time visitor to Catalina, a CIVR guest of both our Avalon homes and Hamilton Cove villas, and our “12 Days of Giveaways” grand prize winner, Marrilee G.  Her story is touching, and we’re sure many of you feel the same way – that Catalina has become your “home away from home.”  Read Marrilee’s story below about how visiting Avalon has become a tradition for her family.


(View from Marrilee’s Hamilton Cove Villa during her stay)

When I was 12 years old, I went to Catalina with my friend and her mom for a week.  We took the old seaplane over and landed on the end of the pier. How cool?!  We were able to have the most freedom we had ever had because we were safe no matter where we went.  We rode bikes, went to the beach, went horseback riding, and walked around town.  We were never out of our bathing suits long enough for them to dry.

Twenty years later I started taking my kids. They ran the Island; they tasted the same freedom I did when I was a little girl. My love of the island spreads like wildfire. You should have seen us coming over on the old Catalina Cruiser with all we needed for a week for 15 plus people. It was a sight to see.

Twenty years later, I’m bringing my grandkids. What a delight for me to have my kids and grandkids love Catalina like I do. My youngest granddaughter is even named Avalon. It is safe to say that my family’s love of the Island is forever. We religiously rent from CIVR (Catalina Island Vacation Rentals). In December, I won a 3 day/2 night stay for 2 from CIVR. I didn’t believe it and was sure there was a catch.  No catch, for once.

Soon after, my sister was diagnosed with cancer. As you can imagine, it was a tough time for all of us. A vacation was in order. I called Chay at CIVR and told her about my story and asked if we could turn it into a girls’ weekend. She was so accommodating.   We stayed in a Hamilton Cove villa for the first time. We old ladies knew we needed a great view with a golf cart. Our wandering around the island days by foot have passed.

We came over just after my sister completed her treatment. My sisters’ friends, and I have done some partying in Catalina (can we say wicki wack?), but this weekend was all about relaxing, bonding, and enjoying the peace of the Island we all love so much.

The villa was perfect in every way. The view was a treat and we spent most of our time on the deck just looking at the water. That is, when we weren’t enjoying ice cream from Big Olaf’s or a caramel apple from Lloyd’s!

Avalon is our home away from home; our happy place. Our trips are always filled with laughter, bonding, healing, joy, and serious fun.


Marrilee G.

Orange, CA


A Guest’s Experience: Carlin & Family

We have a special post to share today—one of our guests is guest blogging for us! Here at CIVR we love hearing about your experiences on Catalina, the activities you enjoy doing when visiting, and the traditions you’ve created. Read on to hear about Carlin and her family’s experience on Catalina Island and staying in one of the CIVR villas at Hamilton Cove.

portofino (2)

In the quest for an unforgettable vacation that would match the stunning beauty of the Amalfi Coast, but had a closer proximity to home, I googled “most Mediterranean-like city in America”.  Catalina Island came up on the list and it did NOT disappoint!  Based on images I’d seen, I quickly booked a Hamilton Cove villa for our stay.

Catalina Island delivers that gorgeous Mediterranean feel, particularly if you stay in the lovely Hamilton Cove resort.  Built vertically into a cliff, the units overlook the ocean allowing an incredible view 24/7.  So many beautiful memories were made on this vacation.  Every morning we ate breakfast on our balcony, watching yachts and dolphins sail around the sea.  During the day we spent time on the beautiful Descanso Beach in a private cabana, paddle boarding, snorkeling, swimming and soaking up the sun, all while being attended to by excellent servers.  We zip-lined, went deep sea fishing and explored the gorgeous island vegetation in golf carts provided with each villa.  The evenings were savored by again eating on the villa balcony or at our favorite Italian restaurant, Villa Portofino.  Catalina Island was truly one of our best vacations, bringing huge smiles to our faces and gratitude in our hearts each time we reminisce.


Carlin W.

Saint Louis, MO


We Want You to Be a Guest Blogger!

Love reading our blog and have a fun memory, experience or tradition you’d like to share about vacationing with us and visiting Catalina? We love hearing from you, and are excited to announce our new “Guest Blogger” program.

While we love sharing history, things to do, events and what we love about Catalina, we want to hear from you! Send us a favorite memory, experience, activity you love doing while on the Island, tradition you’ve started associated with visiting Catalina and your story might just be chosen to be featured as a CIVR blog post! As a thank you to our “guest bloggers,” we’ll be sending you a special gift.

Here’s what you need to do to submit your own blog post:

  • Provide your first name, last name initial and city where you are from (for crediting purposes)
  • Write 2 paragraphs sharing your experience, favorite activity or memory, a tradition you’ve created from visiting Catalina or anything else you’d like to share about Catalina Island or staying with CIVR
  • Please provide an image to accompany your blog post
  • Please no profanity or offensive language in your post, and only submit appropriate photos
  • Send post & photo to blog@civr.com with the subject line “CIVR Guest Blogger”

If your post is chosen to be featured on the CIVR blog, we will contact you via email. We can’t wait to hear from you!


Seeking Warmer Weather?

Looking to stow the snow boots and escape the frigid winter temperatures? Lucky for you Catalina Island is conveniently located right off the coast of Los Angeles!  Experience a beautiful Southern California winter with the simplicity of island life, and leave the traffic jams on the mainland. Getting around Avalon is easy—you can walk everywhere, and many Avalon Homes and all Hamilton Cove villas offer complimentary use of the homeowner’s golf cart (locals favorite form of transportation).

With the absence of the summer crowds, you can try out the numerous activities you’ve always wanted to do but steered clear of.  The golf course is open year round, the recent rain has turned the hillsides a vibrant green and perfect for exploring on one the many hiking trails, or catch the latest movie at the famous Avalon Theater.  These are just a few enticing activities to fill your time while you stay in a vacation rental for a week, a month or two.  We offer great rates for those looking to extend their stay and enjoy Island life for a month or more.

Everyone wants to know what it’s like living on an island, so why not try it?  We try our best to describe it, but to really know how special and unique it is we recommend you try it for yourself—even for a short time–while you wait for the snow to melt at home!

For more information on our winter rentals, please click here.

Plan Your Catalina Island Getaway Now!

While you may be thinking, “It’s only March—I have months to plan my summer getaway,” the reality is vacation rentals are already being snapped up for not only the prime summer months on Catalina, but every holiday and weekend in between! The earlier you make a reservation for your desired vacation week/weekend, the better chance you have of staying in your favorite home, condo or villa—and let’s be honest, we all want the property with a deck and view of Avalon Bay or Hamilton Cove.

Travel trends over the past few years have indicated that more and more vacationers are choosing a vacation rental as opposed to a hotel when staying in a beach town (or island!), so do yourself a favor—book your favorite property now and avoid that last minute planning stress!

The Island of Romance

Love is in the air! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, and the spring and summer wedding season not far off, now is the perfect time to start planning your romantic getaway or honeymoon to Catalina, or making travel arrangements for an upcoming Catalina destination wedding or celebration!

We’ve partnered with Honeymoonwishes.com to make it easier than ever to plan your honeymoon to Catalina and with the registry function, wedding guests can give you the gift of travel by contributing to your vacation package. For more information on planning your honeymoon to Catalina with us, please click here.

With countless picturesque and historic locations, Catalina plays host to hundreds of weddings each year. With the Island being a favorite Southern California wedding location, guests often make a vacation out of the festivities and rent one of our Avalon properties or Hamilton Cove Villas for the week, rather than only staying the weekend of the event. After all, attending a destination wedding is the perfect excuse to sneak in a vacation filled with relaxing and making lasting memories.

To stay connected to CIVR check out our Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube pages!

CIVR’s Loyalty Program

Who doesn’t love a vacation?  Especially when you can receive special perks for visiting Catalina year after year and staying in one of our unique vacation homes!  As a way of saying thank you to all our loyal guests who have stayed with us four or more times during their trips to Catalina Island, we have developed the CIVR Loyalty Program.   Our loyal guests receive generous savings from participating businesses—from restaurants and spa treatments to golf cart rentals and island expeditions.  This card has something for everyone!  If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try during your stay in Avalon, like para-sailing, snorkeling or chartering a boat, but have never gotten around to doing it, now’s your chance!

To be eligible for the CIVR Loyalty Card, you need to have stayed in a CIVR vacation home at least four times.  The great thing is, it can be any property—a villa at Hamilton Cove, a charming Avalon Home, or an Avalon Condo.  We’ll let you know when you are eligible for the card and mail it directly to you—just remember to bring it with you on your next trip to the Island and score some great deals!


To stay connected to CIVR, check us out on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.