About an hour boat ride (www.catalinaexpress.com) or a 15 minute helicopter ride (www.islandexpress.com) from the nation’s second largest metropolitan region lies the unpopulated Santa Catalina Island. Many people visit for a day but the island offers a plethora of activities to keep one occupied for much longer. Avalon is the largest town on the island with about 3,700 full time residents. In contrast, the second largest and only other town of any size is Two Harbors with about 150 people. The rest of the island is under the care of the Santa Catalina Conservancy – which preserves about 95% of the island in its natural state.
The harbor of Avalon is central – shops, food and hotels are located along here. There are very few cars on the island – currently limited to 300 – you either walk or make use of one of the many golf carts in Avalon. Avalon is very picturesque with small colorful homes set behind the main waterfront. The casino, every dominating Avalon’s skyline is not actually a casino – but a historic movie theater. The water is beautiful on the sunny day – blues and greens – with a diversity of marine life just below the surface.
Choose from a variety of activities ranging from relaxing, sunbathing, swimming, zip lining, miniature golf, adventure tours, helicopter tours, diving, snorkeling, yellow submarine tours, paragliding, fishing and hiking among others. Catalina is also home to a number of wildlife including the endemic cute little island fox, bald eagles and bison which roam much of the island – now numbering about 150 animals – since 14 were originally left on the island after a film shoot.
For more information visit the official tourism website, www.visitcatalinaisland.com