Visiting Catalina

Santa Catalina Island, one of a number of beautiful islands in Los Angeles County’s Channel Islands group, is a popular tourist location that can be reached via various ferry services with ports on the southern Californian coast. It can also be accessed with charter boats, cruise line ships, small aircraft and even helicopters. The ferries do not carry cars since conservation rules have created a 14-year waiting list for permission to use automobiles on the island. Most tourists won’t want to wait that long! It takes about an hour by ferry to arrive at Avalon (the main port town) and costs about $70.

There are numerous hotels on Catalina Island. Most of them are situated in Avalon. Some are in the second-largest town- Two Harbors. There are also camping sites scattered throughout the island (some in mountainous inland areas and others near coves along the coast). There are restaurants in Avalon and Two Harbors.
Avalon is the main entry port and is on the east end of the island. A single main road leads from Avalon to an isthmus where the town of Two Harbors is located. That road then takes you throughout the western “wilderness” side of the island. A road also leads to the mountain-top Catalina Airport (aka the “Air Port in the Sky”). Since you will not have a car, you will need to do what the locals themselves often do- ride on a golf cart or a bike. There are rental locations for both in Avalon. There are also taxis and buses you can travel on. Aside from those options, you can also consider hopping on a boat to circumnavigate the island or going on foot. Be aware, however, that a pass will be needed for permission to hike or mountain bike. The walking passes for the island foot tours are free; the biking permits are not.

There are numerous unique species of both plants and animals on the island. The Island Fox was reduced to a population of 100 before conservationist efforts led to a resurgence. There is even a buffalo herd (abandoned there after a filming project for a movie). Bright-colored fish can be seen through glass-bottomed tour boats along with shipwrecks and reefs. You can even walk under the sea to view the fish-life at the Avalon Underwater Dive Park! Also notable are the large schools of flying fish that infest these waters. There is opportunity for diving, snorkeling and parasailing. There are a few areas with good surfing conditions- such as Shark Harbor. Yes there are sharks there also.

Besides viewing the natural beauty of the island and visiting its many coves and beaches, one should see certain tourist spots inside Avalon. Among these destinations is Catalina Island Museum where much historical information can be learned through exhibits, films and lectures. This is also where to go to get started on a foot tour. Some will wish to be entertained at Avalon’s two casinos: Avalon Casino and Avalon Marine Dock Casino. Others may be interested in golfing at Catalina Island Golf Course. Definitely visit the Wrigley Botanical Garden.

Catalina is a wonderful vacation area with a variety of activities available for the million-plus tourists who go there every year. Sail into the Gulf of Santa Catalina and visit a little world of its own with a unique and colorful history all its own- Santa Catalina Island!

Reviews are closed.