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CATALINA ISLAND

This island may be only 22 miles (35 km) across the sea, but it’s a world away from the urban velocity of LA. Ferries dock in Avalon, the island’s commercial hub. Most of the interior is a protected nature preserve that may only be explored on foot or bicycle (permit required), or by organized tour. These are excellent ways to learn about the island’s history as a destination for sea otter poachers, smugglers, Union soldiers, and mining speculators.

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Map of Catalina Island

NEED TO KNOW

prac_info Visitors’ Bureau: Green Pleasure Pier; 310-510-1520

prac_info Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Gardens: www.catalinaconservancy.org; adm

prac_info Nature Center at Avalon Canyon: www.catalinaconservancy.org

prac_info Catalina Island Museum: www.catalinamuseum.org; adm

prac_info Catalina Express: 800-613-1212

prac_info Island Express: 800-228-2566

prac_info Santa Catalina Island Company: 877-778-8322

prac_info Catalina Adventure Tours: 877-510-2888

Google Map

  • Try the Lobster Trap for fresh fish and Steve’s Steakhouse for meat.
  • Go swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, or take a glass-bottom boat tour.
  • Catalina is at its best in the evening, after the last ferry has whisked off most of the tourists, so consider an overnight stay.

1. Green Pleasure Pier

Google Map

This green pier has been the hub of Avalon activity since 1909. For years, it was the official weighing station for game-fishing enthusiasts.

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Green Pleasure Pier and Avalon Casino

2. Lover’s Cove

Google Map

Rent a snorkel and take to the clear blue waters of this poetically named marine preserve teeming with golden Garibaldi (California’s state marine fish).

3. Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Gardens

Google Map

The monument to William Wrigley Jr., built in 1935 with local materials, towers over vast gardens. Plants include species unique to the island.

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The 1935 monument dedicated to William Wrigley Jr.

4. Avalon Casino

Google Map

This Art Deco landmark, built for William Wrigley Jr., opened in 1929 and was never a gambling place. It contains a movie theater and a ballroom that once hosted nationally broadcast concerts. Murals of underwater scenes adorn the exterior.

5. Casino Point Dive Park

Google Map

This reserve, set up in 1965, was California’s first city-designated water park and is great for divers.

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Casino Point Dive Park, a great spot for divers

6. Nature Center at Avalon Canyon

Google Map

Here, hands-on activities and exhibits showcase the biodiversity of the Island.

7. Catalina Country Club

Google Map

In 1929, Wrigley Jr. made this the spring training ground of his baseball team. The clubhouse is now a restaurant.

8. Two Harbors

Google Map

Popular with boaters, hikers, and campers, this slow-paced rustic village on a natural isthmus is about 23 miles (37 km) west of Avalon. It is served by ferry from the mainland and by bus from Avalon.

9. Catalina Buffalo

Island explorations may lead to encounters with herds of chocolate-colored buffalo. The first 14 animals were brought here in 1924 for a Zane Grey film.

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The chocolate-coloured Catalina buffaloes

10. Catalina Island Museum

Google Map

Over 7,000 years of island history come alive here, with artifacts, pottery, and photographs from Catalina’s days as the darling of Hollywood.

A WEALTH OF WILDLIFE

Catalina has a unique ecosystem and includes such endemic species as the Channel Island fox and the Catalina ground squirrel. The introduction of non-native animals resulted in overgrazing, a trend the Catalina Island Conservancy is now seeking to reverse. Another restoration project has returned the California bald eagle to the skies. Pelicans, gulls, and cormorants can also be spotted. The ocean waters are abundant with sea lions, Garibaldi, flying fish, and shark.

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