Our Story: Catalina History
In 1912 Captain Joseph McAfee sailed his flat bottom houseboat from Venice Beach to Santa Catalina Island with the intention of making Avalon his home. Captain McAfee purchased a parcel of land with a wonderful view of the bay located on what is now called Marilla Avenue.
Maintaining a strong attachment to his houseboat, as well as the desire to have a home overlooking the bay, Captain McAfee devised an ingenious plan to haul his houseboat up the hillside to his newly acquired property. Using only horses, logs, rope and sheer determination, the Captain and a group of friends hoisted the boat inch by inch up the dusty road to its new location. Captain McAfee’s houseboat was now referred to by one and all as “the Captain’s Beach House.”
Captain McAfee, a lover of the sea, capitalized on an idea that would enhance his income while sharing with others the unusual spectre of flying fish leaping gracefully above the ocean’s surface. He built the island’s first Flying Fish boat, the Catalina Flyer, and began taking out passengers on nighttime excursions just off the coast of Catalina Island. The boat was equipped with a powerful searchlight that would attract and capture in its hypnotic beam the beauty of these unique flying fish.
As the years went by, the enterprising Captain built additional rooms to take advantage of the booming island tourist trade. These rooms were attached to the original houseboat and tiered down the hillside. The houseboat hotel became known as the Driftwood Inn and was then renamed the Catalina Beach House Hotel in the early 1960s.
The Catalina Beach House Hotel has been updated and remodeled into one of Catalina's most charming and delightful places to stay. The hotel was renamed the Catalina Boat House Hotel in 2014 to honor the visionary Captain McAfee and the property's unique history.
This charming property is located one block uphill from the beach in a quiet residential area still walking distance to the shops and restaurants. Modern kitchenettes and our sunny patios set the scene for relaxing barbecues with family and friends. Store your bikes in our lush courtyards or enjoy lounging on one of our public or semi-private decks with sweeping harbor views. We have some pet friendly rooms. This is the perfect setting for intimate weddings and small events and celebrations.
Catalina Boat House Hotel
Toll-Free: 800-97-HOTEL (46835)
200 Marilla Avenue, Avalon CA 90704
Mailing Address: PO Box 646, Avalon CA 90704
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Visit our sister property: Hermosa Hotel
Read our pet policy
** CATALINA IS IN AN EXTREME DROUGHT **
Due to the mandatory reduction of water consumption on Catalina Island, we've had to make the following changes in order to comply:
- We will issue one set of towels per guest. Please reuse them for the duration of the stay.
- Please bring your own beach towels and any additional towels you may desire.
- Additional towels can be issued, if available, for $5 per each additional set.
- Our post check-out showers at our sister hotel, Hermosa Hotel, will be available for a $5 charge (this charge includes a shower, one towel, soap and shampoo after you've checked out.
- Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time on the island.
“We were greeted with the friendliest employees & felt very welcomed. The hotel is a great value & our room was very clean.”
“This was the perfect small hotel one block uphill, with a sunbathing deck and an ocean view, tables and chairs, even a barbecue on the first level. The staff was super-friendly and quick to respond, and the rooms were clean and comfy, including a kitchenette. I would definitely stay again and will recommend it to others.”
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