Kayak Camping Catalina Island

October 5, 2016
Catalina Island Kayak Camping California

Catalina Island is beautiful. It’s like having “little Hawaii” in my backyard. There are no cars allowed on Catalina Island and it’s very serene and laid back. We’ve been there before, but this time I wanted to do a kayak camping trip. You can reserve your own little private cove in advance online, but it’s been a challenge to find what the cove looks like – as there are rarely pictures online. I decided on Paradise Cove –with that name it can’t be wrong. 🙂 Ulli and I packed our backpacks with tent, sleeping bags, food, water, snorkeling gear and off we went on the ferry early Saturday morning. It’s about 1 hour 15 min ferry ride from Long Beach to Two Harbors. This is the more remote side of the island (the other side is Avalaon). When we got there we had already made reservations for our tandem kayak and packed up our belongings on the kayak. We wrapped them in plastic bags to protect from getting wet (if we flipped with the kayak it would not be waterproof).

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We headed south from Two Harbors along the port and different sea caves. As it was already in the afternoon we had the wind in our back, even though the water was kind of choppy. The problem was that we weren’t exactly sure how the cove looked like. We just had a map with different names of coves but there was no sign which one is which. There was no-one to ask either. So we decided to just go with a spot that looked nice. This wasn’t so easy, as there were mostly big rocks and when there is high tide some coves would be under water. Finally we saw a big camp site where several boats where as well, so we asked and found out we were at Ripper’s Cove. They told us the next one around the corner is Paradise Cove. When we finally got around the side of the island we saw this picture perfect cove…that’s it! We set up our kayak at this big lava rock and put up our tent close to the beach. Right behind was a hiking trail that went uphill. It was beautiful. We put our hiking shoes on and went for a sunset hike to enjoy a stunning view from the top over the island. Then we went back to have dinner and enjoy the sound of the waves hitting the beach. At night the stargazing was spectacular, as it was such a clear sky. We really felt to be on a remote island as we didn’t see anyone around for the time we were there. We didn’t have any cell phone connection either – so it felt a bit like Robinson Crusoe (plus our gopro and cell phone and granola bars).

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The next morning we got up very early and went for a trail run / hike before breakfast. We went up the highest peak that was close to us and had another stunning view. On the way down a deer jumped right out a bush in front of us. We were as much scared as the deer was. I’ve never seen a (wild) deer so close up. It started running down the hill all the way to the other side of the island as fast as it could. The run took us 1 hour and this deer ran in 45 sec across. Ha! After our run/hike we jumped in the water for some snorkeling. There were several reefs right in front of our cove – you wouldn’t know if you don’t dive. We saw many school of fish incl. the California state fish Garibaldi – bright orange and easy to spot.

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Around 1pm we started packing and off we went back on our kayak to the harbor. Well – that was an interesting ride back! There were very strong winds with choppy waters – it felt as we were not moving at all. I looked at this rock formation to my left for probably 20 minutes – that’s what it felt like. It was incredible! Our ferry left at 5pm, and it took us 1 hour to get to the cove the day before…so we should have plenty of time, but the afternoon weather is much different. After 2 hours of fighting against the water and wind a boat came up next to us and asked if we need help and tow us. But they didn’t know us – never ever would we have given up. For me it was a lot more challenging mentally than physically. It just felt as we were not moving at all for hours of paddling. Every time we got around a corner of the island we thought here’s the harbor – but no there was another corner…and another. When you’re in the water everything looks different too. Well, finally – after 3 hours – we saw the harbor. However, now we didn’t know if our ferry is departing from the left or right side of the harbor (it’s called Two Harbors). Lucky us we decided correctly, and finally we were back on land. I was so happy that we made it – and we fought our way through this. My shoulders were a bit tight, but mostly it was a mental challenge. It was an unforgettable weekend adventure with many new memories made.

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