14-May-2016 : Every six months we have office event, where we either go on outing or to eat out. This time around there were grand plans to go to Catalina island for a day long trip. Catalina island is in Pacific ocean and is around 32 miles from the Newport Coast. There are many cruises which do these trips and they leave from either Newport beach or Long beach. As Newport beach was close to us, we were to assemble there and take the ferry. We had to board 8:00 am cruise and we left home at around 7:00 am. We had done the carpool and we reached there around 7:30 am and parked at the private lot. The parking is quite costly, but there is a discount with Catalina ferry ticket. I think it cost us around $15 for the day. The pier from where the ferry goes is close by and on reaching there we found a huge line. After looking for them, we finally found our group and waited in line.
Once boarded we were off to the island. This was my first experience of going to an island. The Cruise was quite big, it had 2 decks. We went to the upper deck for great views. It was very windy and chilly, but we still spent the whole journey there only. As the ship pulls out, you start leaving behind the mainland and on one hand you can see the fading coastline with its buildings and on other you can see only the large blue ocean all around. The journey takes around an hour and you do enjoy every bit of it. As you get deeper into the ocean, you are greeted by the whales and you can see so many of them, seeing to join you. Soon you start approaching the island and you start seeing large hills adorned with dense forest, surrounded by clear blue water. Its a sight which held’s your breath. As you get closer, you see some settlements and the pier and beach on the front.
The island is quite big and only limited section is accessible for outsiders. We off boarded and took up some benches on the coast line. Event organizers had brought in Sandwiches and soft drinks and we had those for lunch. The weather was quite nice, it was bit cold, but skies were clear. Once lunch done, the group split into 2. Some people had opted for parasailing (including me) and some for the golf cart tours. So we moved to the waiting area and after 15- 20 mins of wait, were informed that we are ready to board. So we go into this small boat, there were around 10 people from our group and 3-4 others.
The boat took us into the ocean for a mile or so and then prepared for parasailing. So they have this parachute, which is attached to the rope, which in turn is attached to the boat. 2 people take the turn. First they get you in the safety jacket and then they tie the parachute hose around your waist. You then sit on the boats hood and as the parachute fills with air it stars lifting up and they would release the attached string slowly as you go up. They release you up for a good distance and then the boat goes around, giving you great views of the surroundings. I have done this before, but it was on the beach sand, tied to the jeep, not in the middle for water. This was more fun and it was so peaceful at the top. You can literally go into meditation mode, so serene it is up here. We also spotted some dolphins and you get good view of the island and the ocean. All it lasts is 5 mins and then they start unwinding the string, till you land on the boat. Just before you get on boat, they would lower you so you touch the water :), I would like to do it again 🙂
So we were back to the pier and it was around 1:00 pm now. We still had a lot of time in our hand, as we were to pick the 4:30 pm ferry back to mainland. Also at this time our group dispersed, some went to restaurant, the golf cart group was no where to be seen, so it was me and one of my colleague. So we were thinking what to do, I wanted to do kayaking, but my colleague wanted to go biking. We might have spent 30 – 45 mins haggling over it. Now there was no point of doing Kayaking alone, so I also went along and we rented bikes for couple of hours and it was $10 per bike.
The bikes were OK, but I had hard time riding them. I don’t know when was the last time I had rode a bike, at least a decade earlier if not more 🙂 . Steep slopes didn’t help either, but we still went around the small town for some time. We rode through lanes and by lanes of town and it was really nice. The other guy was doing great, but I sure was struggling. So finally I protested and we turned around and decided to go the other direction, on the road which was running parallel to the coast. It was one of the most memorable moment in my life, when I rode the bike along the coast, blue pristine water on my left and high hills on right. I could have gone for ever. It was awesome. Would love to do it every morning!
On the way we saw couple of our colleagues doing the scuba diving and we pulled on the side to have look. There were some nice vista points and perfect weather aided it further. We then decided to go back and search for the cart crew. After looking for some time, we found them near the town, who were into I don’t know which lap count:). We gave back the bikes (1 hour earlier) and hoped onto the golf cart. You can go around the marked road which might be around 3-4 miles and loop back to town. It goes uphill, through zigzag ghat and then downhill to descend on the town. It had some nice views especially when you reach on top of the hill and get unrestricted view of ocean. Really serene away from any hustle and bustle. So we had best of all, parasailing as well as cart and then dropped back the cart.
Slowly all had started to assemble and in half and hour or so almost all were in except there are always some out-liars 😉 We lined up for the cruise which had already docked in and once boarded were off to our homes. On the ride back also we took the upper deck. The weather was bit warm than morning, but we had drizzles along the way and it was quite nice. We were quite tired, especially after the bike ride and so cool breeze and rain was welcome! After a while we could see the coastline and we started approaching it quickly. I really like the coast contours you get to see so far from the ocean, where the land and water forms different shapes. You could see and recognize many places like Huntington, Laguna, Newport etc .Under the evening sun, it was quite a sight and we reached the deck around 6:00 pm.We bid our good byes and got the car from the lot and headed home. I reached mine at around 7:00 pm and that concluded one of the best trips I have been to. Would definitely take G and Ar some day.
PS: From the time I got to the island, I saw many vehicles there and was wondering how they get these here. On dong some inquiry, came to know that there is a long wait (which goes on for years) to get the permit to get the car here on a ferry. Now that is something !