8 Hours in Catalina


Catalina has always been on my bucket list! I am a sucker for the west coast and frequent California often. There are so many fantastic beaches in southern California it is hard to prioritize which ones to visit on short weekend getaways. In my opinion Catalina is a must see!

So you may be asking yourself, why only 8 hours in Catalina? Well my husband and I like to get away every year around our anniversary in September. Since we have two toddlers our trips are often limited to 3 fabulous kid free days and nights. With limited time we didn’t think we would have time to spend the night in Catalina and still beach hop down Highway 1 so we dedicated one full day to go see this beautiful island in the Pacific.

We read many articles that it is best to pre-purchase ferry tickets because in peak seasons they can sell out. We were staying in Laguna and ended up taking a ferry out of Long Beach on the Catalina Express. The drive to Long Beach took a little over an hour from Laguna. What I didn’t realize at the time was there is a different ferry company in Newport which would have been a lot closer: Catalina Tours. Make sure to see which ferry is closer to you before booking. With that being said the Catalina Express was great! It took around an hour to get from Long Beach to Catalina. It was a smooth boat ride over the beautiful deep blue Pacific waters and as an added bonus we even saw some dolphins!


There are some great photo opts as the ferry approaches Catalina. You can see the majority of Avalon as you pull into port! I recommend getting to the port a little early to load the ferry so you can get a great seat by the window.


I think one of my favorite parts about Catalina is the size. It is not overly large so you can walk around easily. There were massive lines to rent golf carts to tour the island with so we skipped the line and walked straight over to Luau Larry’s for a drink…yes it was barely 11am but when on an island kid free you drink!

Luau Larry’s  is known for their drink called the Wiki Wacker. With a tag line like “One Wiki Wacker and you will leave here with your Wiki Wacked!” We had no choice but to order two. Best part about the wiki wacker… you get this awesome hat! I mean who would not want to wear this hat all day?!


In addition the Wiki Wacker I opted to try the island’s official drink: Buffalo Milk. It is a mix of milk, banana, and liquor. I mean when in Catalina you have to try the signature drink right?


The island kind of has an obsession with buffalos from the signature buffalo milk drink to brightly painted bison statues around Catalina. Apparently buffalo were brought over to Catalina for a movie shoot about 100 years ago and left on the island…if you ask me they have a pretty awesome place to live! I know there are tours on the island where you can see the bison for yourself if that is your cup of tea. Here is a highly rated company to try: Catalina Jeep Tour. Since my husband and I are more beach bums than safari people so we opted for the Descanso Beach Club instead.


It was about a 5 minute walk from Luau Larry’s to the beach club (again one of the reasons I love Catalina is you can walk everywhere! No hassle with driving and looking for/paying for parking…plus you can drink and not need a designated driver…ok maybe you will need a designated time keeper to make sure you get back to your return ferry on time!)

The beach club is beautiful. There is a great outdoor covered tiki bar and dining area. SERIOUSLY NO JOKE… BEST TUNA POKE BOWL I HAVE EVER HAD! I would go back to Catalina just to eat this dish again!


After a great bite to eat we took our towels down to the beach and people watched. If you are not a fan of sitting the sand they have great chairs and cabanas for rent. Check out pricing here: Beach Club Rentals. The bar played great music and we sat and drank mojitos for most of the afternoon. I tried to get into the water, but being a Texas girl it was too cold for me. I love the sound of the ocean so as long as I can see it and hear it I am a happy camper.

We spent most of our day enjoying local bars, food, and the beach. If you are looking for other fun activities to add to your itinerary try a few of these options:

Most of these options are 1 hour to 4 hour durations and can fit perfectly within your 8 hour time constraint!


We absolutely loved our time on this island. You feel like you are in Europe or somewhere exotic…not just an hour off the coast of California. We will definitely go back perhaps with more time. There are some cool camping options that would be fun to experience…I mean what could be more beautiful then going to sleep and waking up on an island the pacific ocean?

I hope you love exploring Catalina as much as we did!



DIY Baby Shark Garland with Free Template!

I absolutely love creating party decorations for my kids parties. I know at 2 and 3 years old they can’t appreciate the work that goes into it, but I feel like it is a love letter to them that they will see and appreciate years later in their memory books. At least I tell myself that late at night when I am burning my fingers with hot glue lol.

I will say now that my daughter is 3 she is an enthusiastic helper. She loves going shopping at Hobby Lobby or “Hobby Holly” as she calls it. I always check the online ads to see which week the supplies I need will be on sale which helps save on costs, because lets face it parties can get expensive fast.

For my son’s 2nd birthday party I decided on a “Baby Shark” theme since it is his current obsession. For as widely known this addicting YouTube video is in the toddler world there is not a lot of merchandise available online or in stores for a party so I had to get creative and make a photo garland, a feature wall/cake smash back drop, favor tags, and some food tags too. For today I am going to focus on the baby shark photo garland. (Check out our blog for additional posts on the other fantastic decorations I created for my son’s party with the very skilled help of his big sister!)

The great news is the garland was easy to make and cost less than $5 in paper. Here is your shopping list for Hobby Lobby or Michaels:

  • 1 – 12×12 sheet of medium blue cardstock
  • 2 – 12×12 sheet of light blue cardstock
  • 1 – 12×12 sheet of medium yellow cardstock
  • 1 – 12×12 sheet of light yellow cardstock
  • 1 – 8×10 sheet of maroon cardstock
  • 1 – 8×10 sheet of light maroon cardstock
  • 1 – 8×10 sheet of white cardstock
  • 1 – 8×10 sheet of black cardstock
  • 1 – 12×12 sheet of turquoise cardstock
  • 1 roll of ribbon – I picked orange but you can pick any color you want!
  • 1 – permanent tape adhesive roller
  •  Small pom poms (If you want to make the birthday hat for the shark)
  • 1 – 1″ circle punch
  • 1 – 2″ circle punch
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue
  • Black Sharpie


Free templates: (Print on 8×11 sheet of paper for correct sizing)

I started with the baby sharks. Feel free to print out these outlines and cut them out so you have a template to make your own baby sharks!

Here is the process I followed to make 2 baby sharks:

  1. Trace the top of the shark on a the dark blue cardstock.
  2. Trace the bottom part of the shark on light blue cardstock.
  3. Glue the dark blue piece on top of the light blue piece
  4. Use the 2″ hole punch to punch out 4 white circles
  5. Use the 1″ hole punch to punch out 4 black circles
  6. Glue the black circle on top of the white circle to make eyes and then glue them on top of the dark blue piece of the shark.
  7. Take a black marker and draw 3 gill lines behind the eyes
  8. I free handed cutting out the teeth from white card stock and glued them to the back of the light blue paper. You can add some tape on the back to make sure they stick since they are small and could get knocked loose easily.
  9. Cut out the dark maroon template for the mouth and tape it to the back of the light blue paper.
  10. Cut out the shape of a tongue (a small half oval) from the light maroon paper and glue it to the dark maroon paper.
  11. Cut out a triangle, add stripes, and add the pom pom with a dab of hot glue and attach to the shark! “Easy peasy” as my daughter would say!

To make the little fish you first need to decide how many photos you want to display. If this if for a 1st birthday party I would suggest creating 12 little fish so you can display 12 photos…one for each fabulous sleepless month you survived! Since this was my son’s 2nd birthday I decided to do 7 photos so that the length would perfectly fit on my 48 inch mantle without being over crowded. Let me tell you it was hard to pick just 7 photos to sum up all the fun we had this past year.

To make the little fish follow these easy steps:

  1. Cut out the number of fish you need out of alternating colors using the free template on this post! I cut the bodies out of the same light blue paper used for the base of the shark as well as the dark yellow and light yellow cardstock.
  2. Take a coordinating color and cut out stripes and glue them to the fish’s body.
    1. Tip: Buy yourself a pair of scalloped scissors and save yourself a lot of time. If you want to save money or just don’t feel like loading two kids in car seats and chasing them through the store for a pair a scissors then you can free hand the stripes like I did or order a pair of scissors from Amazon
  3. All of the fins are cut out of the turquoise paper. Just use the template or free hand your own fins and glue them to each of the fish.
  4. I used the 1 inch hole punch on white paper to cut out all the eyes and hand drew the black parts of the eyes with a marker since I did didn’t happen to have a 1/2″ circle punch.
  5. Glue the eyes to the fish and use a marker to draw his cute little smile. All done… or in my case repeat 6 more times!


Ok time for a mini happy dance because the hard part is done!

Final Steps/Garland Assembly:

  1. Measure and cut your ribbon as long as you need it for where you are going to hang the garland.
  2. Hot glue the sharks to the ends of the ribbon and then evenly space the fish in between the sharks.
  3. Attach photos to the fish:
    1. I like to line my photos with color paper, but of course this step is totally optional and up to your preference.
      1. I prefer to double line photos and for this garland I decided to do the photo followed by a layer of white then a layer of orange. (If you want to do this step make sure you add extra color cardstock to your shopping list. You can get 2 photos done out of 1 sheet of 8×10 cardstock, so for 12 photos you would need 6 sheets of additional cardstock).
    2. The best way to make sure the paper lining looks clean is to use the permanent tape roller to attach the paper and photo together and make sure the corners are well glued down.
    3. I attached the photos to the back of the fish with a piece of scotch tape but hot glue will work as well.
  4. Finally hang up your garland! I suggest clear push pins because the photos tend to make it heavy and tape just didn’t seem to cut it for me.

Here is our final result! I hope you love your garland and it is the hit of your party!


P.S. If you love the milestone board on our mantel check out BloomingDESIGNprints Shop to order one for your party!