Explore Catalina Island
September 30, 2018
If you’ve ever wanted to rent an apartment in California, San Pedro in particular, there’s a not-so-secret secret you’ll want to be sure to check out: Santa Catalina Island. It’s one of the Channel Islands of California, “five remarkable islands” off the Los Angeles coast whose long time in isolation “has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth.”
It’s an explorer’s dream, obviously, and while there are plenty of general guides on exploring the Channel Islands, we want to get specific today and give you some tips on what to do when you head to Santa Catalina. Read on, because we’re going to show you the all the points of interest, cool tips, and rarely-discussed facts you’re going to want to know before setting foot on the shores of this natural paradise.
First Things First: Familiarize Yourself With the Basics
Knowledge is power, and you’ll be much better off on your Santa Catalina trip if you get to know what the island is all about. Let’s begin with the basics. Catalina is a 75 square mile island roughly 22 miles south-southwest of Los Angeles. It’s about 22 miles long and 8 miles across and its highest point rests atop the beautiful Mount Orizaba, at 2,097 feet. It has but two population centers. One is the only incorporated city on the island, Avalon, with just over 4,000 people (nearly 90 percent of the island’s residents); the other is Two Harbors, a smaller village on the northern isthmus.
To get to Santa Catalina, you have several options. Taking a boat is the most straightforward solution; among the many ferries that run to the island, you’ll probably find the Catalina Express to be the most accommodating. It’s just an hour-long ride, and they make about 30 departures each day — from San Pedro right to Avalon.
If you’re pressed for time, however, and have the extra cash to spare, you could instead take a helicopter, courtesy of Express Helicopters. It’s just a fifteen-minute flight, and you get the advantage of seeing a few sights from the bird’s eye perspective along the way. The only drawback, however, is that they won’t be able to drop you directly in Avalon, so if you wanted to see the town, you’ll have to spend a few additional dollars to catch a ride from the drop-off location into the city.
Once You’re on the Island: Know What You Want to Do
When you’ve made it to Santa Catalina, you’ll have a long list of options for what you’d like to do or see. Knowing what you want to do beforehand will make your voyage that much smoother, and we’ve compiled a few notable options to help you make your decisions on what’s most important to you.
See the Wildlife and Natural Habitats
According to Refinery 29, 88% of the island has been dedicated to the Catalina Island Conservancy. This means there’s a bounty of wildlife for you to see on your visit, and the variety of species is quite diverse. You can check out both the full listings for animal life and plant life at the Conservancy’s website; suffice to say, however, the number of separate species is large and you’ll be in for some amazing sightings on the island.
Your options for getting up-close and personal with the scenery and wildlife are also varied. You could simply rent a bike or golf cart and freestyle your way through the island. You’ll be able to move at your own pace, and have the greatest level of control over your experience. If you’re looking for something a bit more guided, however, the Wildlands Express offers a “convenient and inexpensive” way to tour the island.
And if island flora concern you more than island fauna, be sure to head to the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden. It’s a 30-minute walk from town, and features both a monument to William Wrigley Jr. (the founder of the Wrigley chewing gum company) and outstanding views of the island backdrops and magnificent plant life.
Hit the Beach
On Santa Catalina, the beach is everywhere. If your goal is rest and relaxation under the sun, just pick a spot, lay down your blanket, and get to stretching out. If you want to up the ante on your beach excursion, though, get yourself over to the Descanso Beach Club, “one of the last private beaches in California with public access.”
In addition to the marvelous, seaside, Beach Club Restaurant, you can enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, the climbing wall, aerial adventure, and zip line tour — all courtesy of The Club. When you’re done with the excitement, rest at one of the Cabanas and enjoy the sunset as you reflect on what a marvelous decision you’ve made.
Enjoy a Magical Casino Tour
“What good is a casino with no gambling?” You may well ask yourself this question upon hearing about the Catalina Casino, but know that there’s still plenty to enjoy at this 90 year old establishment.
There are three walking tours, each offering a “unique perspective of this art deco masterpiece,” along with nightly movies shown at 7:30PM if you’re a fan of the cinema. There’s still an old 1920’s Page Pipe Organ in the theatre (which you can hear on Fridays and Saturdays), and plenty of live events that take place over the course of the calendar year, like the Conservancy Ball and Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival.
A Final Note: Rent an Apartment in California
It might seem like a no-brainer, but setting up shop in a place like The Vue will make exploring Santa Catalina that much more enjoyable.
Located on the mainland, just a scant 22 miles away, you’ll be able to get to the island enclave in no time, and upon your return, you’ll be able to unwind in one of the most beautiful buildings that Southern Los Angeles has to offer. Why settle for anything less? Check out what The Vue has to offer, and be sure to inquire if you have any questions about making this your brand new home by the sea.