Catalina Island, CaliforniaHoliday Goddess guest writer Holly O’Sullivan (my daughter) is blogging her across across the USA. In week 2 she discovered beautiful Catalina Island.

Did you know you could see wild buffalo off the coast of Southern California? Or blue whales, leopard sharks, seals and bat rays? Neither did I.

This is what I discovered when I visited Catalina Island, about an hour by fast ferry off the coast of Long Beach, California. So not too long a trip – but long enough to spot a blue whale swimming nearby.

My guide, Donna met me on arrival and drove me on her golf buggy to where we would be Kayaking. Everyone on the island seems to drive golf carts rather than cars (even though there are still some around).

The Kayak centre has lots of gear to choose from, so you don’t need to worry too much about being under-prepared – there’s even a choice of sandals or reef shoes as some of the beaches are quite rocky.

We made our way out into the clear blue water and down towards frog rock.We made our way out into the clear blue water and down towards frog rock (which if you ask me, looks more like a baboon from the other side).

We looked around for bat rays and leopard sharks but at first all I could see were very pretty golden fish, which my guide tells me are the official state fish of California: the garibaldi. Who knew there is such a thing as a state fish?

Further on we saw tens and tens of leopard sharks just swimming around in the shallows. I’m no fan of sharks but it is very cool.

They’re a completely different type of shark to what we call leopard sharks in Australia, and the markings on them are very pretty.

We stopped at a pebbly beach after our visit to Frog Rock and helped ourselves to some homemade cookies and water while our very knowledgeable guide told us stories about the island, and it was all very interesting to listen to.

Santa Catalina Island (as it was originally known) served as a location for the filming of hundreds of Hollywood movie productions. It’s been passed off as the north coast of Africa, Atlantis and the home of that famous mechanical shark in Jaws.

North American bison herd that roams the island were supposedly introduced to the island for the filming of a WesternThe North American bison herd that roams the island were supposedly introduced to the island for the filming of the Western, The Vanishing American, although apparently the film doesn’t contain any bison whatsoever. Maybe they ended up on the cutting room floor.

On our way back we had the option to jump off frog rock but I don’t think anyone was too keen to get wet at this point, and as we were paddling, suddenly a seal appeared out of nowhere.

We were really close to shore as it frolicked around our kayaks for while before heading out to deeper water. What a way to end the trip!

After drying off a bit we went to the Bluewater Seafood Restaurant and I helped myself to a ‘Classic Aussie Burger’ (which did not disappoint).

The restaurant sits on the pier, so as you eat you can see all the way to the bottom of the seabed.The restaurant sits on the pier, so as you eat you can see all the way to the bottom of the seabed.

After lunch we went for a drive up the hill that surrounds the town of Avalon and I was able to get some great photos of the incredible views up there, before heading over to our next activity: zip-lining.

The zip-lining adventure begins 150 metres above sea level, at the top of “Hog’s Back”, near the gate to the interior of the island. From here, we travel travel for 1.2 kilometres via zip line down to Descanso Beach.

Our zip-line guides, Jake and Alex were very funny and made me feel safe and comfortable as they helped me gear up.

The ride is made up of five sections with a total elevation drop of 130 metres and speeds reaching 70 kilometres per hour. Between each section we get to admire the views from the platforms – seriously the best views you could get of the island.

On the last line it took a photo, so everyone was trying their best to strike a pose before the wind turned them around. It was pretty funny – definitely worth doing.

More information about Catalina Island

More information about Catalina Island tours and activities

Writer was a guest of Anaheim Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau 

Follow Holly: @hollyosullivan7 #wheresholly

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About Deborah Dickson-Smith

Deborah plays the mother role in a blended family of seven. She's a travel blogger, diver and passionate eco warrior. She has lived in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Edinburgh, London and now resides in Sydney’s northern beaches with her Brady Bunch-style family. Follow Deb here: @where2nextblog and @diveplanit