A travel destination for the last 120 years
Like a seductive siren’s song, the allure of Santa Catalina Island has attracted many a Southern Californian visitor for more than 100 years. Generations later, the appeal of Catalina is stronger than ever, offering a broad selection of activities and adventures for couples, families and all types of curious guests.
Getting to Catalina Island couldn’t be more convenient with daily port departures from San Pedro and Long Beach via the Catalina Express high-speed catamaran. Additionally, travelers may opt to arrive by air courtesy of the Island Express Helicopter service, also accessible from San Pedro and Long Beach.
Avalon, one of the island’s main ports of entry, greets arriving guests with a picturesque view of the stately and recently restored Casino Building (not a gambling casino but a beautiful gathering place offering entertainment and events) with a breathtaking design for those who cross through its Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival façade. A guided scenic tour is the perfect introduction to the seaside village, or you may choose to meander the streets on your own and dine at one of the many outdoor cafes and restaurants, or discover new treasures at the Shops at the Atwater.
Thrillseekers should check out the island’s five incredible zip lines, dropping from 600 feet above sea level with one run that is 1,100 lineal feet long all on its own. Beginning at the Hog’s Back gate, high in the hills near Avalon and descending through Descanso Canyon, participants pause at several eco-stations along the way before continuing on the journey. At each station, a host offers a presentation on some of the unique and interesting aspects of Catalina Island, its wildlife, history and the areas passed through.
If your heart’s set on seeing Catalina’s legendary bison, the Cape Canyon Expedition is your ticket. This new, extreme, off-road adventure into Catalina’s beautiful interior “outback” employs an all-terrain, 12-passenger, eco-friendly H1 Hummer converted to run on biofuel refined from recycled vegetable oil collected from local restaurants. The “green” machine is the only scheduled off-road tour that travels into beautiful Cape Canyon and the steep, rugged Sheep Chute where Catalina’s bison can frequently be seen.
Naturally, another great way to explore and experience the beauty of Catalina Island is by getting out on the water. The sparkling ocean surrounding the island is filled with dolphins, whales, sea lions and an array of fish including the California flying fish and the Garibaldi—the bright orange fish that is the official marine fish of California. Options include a Ribcraft in search of dolphins on the Dolphin Quest Tour, the Undersea Expedition for getting up-close-and-personal with native fish from the comfort of a semi-submersible vessel or the Glass Bottom Boat Voyage. Enjoy a magical nighttime cruise aboard the historic “Blanche W.” in search of Catalina’s famous flying fish.
Catalina’s other main port, Two Harbors, located at the island’s West End, offers its own unique set of activities, adventures and places to explore. The village is a mooring destination for boaters, a camping mecca for others and a great place to enjoy the outdoors or relax on the beach. Consider any one of the area’s preferred outings, including cove boating, scuba, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, hiking, biking, disc golf and so much more.
WHAT TO DO
|Reach speeds of up to 40 miles an|
hour while 300 ft. above the
|Champagne breakfast and|
|Flying Fish Tour||Descanso Beach Club|
|Catalina’s flying fish really do fly||Weekend beach parties,|
“happier hour” 5-7, Sun-Thurs
For more information on Catalina Island and its amazing menu of activities, log on to visitcatalinaisland.com or call 877-778-8322.
Sitting atop the sprawl of a rocking elephant’s back as she lumbers smoothly up the long, steep ramp leading to Amber Fort I realize I have a huge smile on my face. This is why I came to India, I muse: to parade like a pasha in Rajasthan.