The Catalina Island Express offers year-round service, departing from the California coast at San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point to the Catalina towns of Avalon and Two Harbors. See the ferry’s schedule for the latest times and rates.
Catalina Hotels and Resorts
ISLANDS editor Joan Tapper enjoyed the golf cart that came with her room at The Inn on Mt. Ada, a former mansion of the Wrigley family that overlooks the town of Avalon. Make yourself a banana split by raiding the butler’s pantry, then channel more soigne times in the best room in the house: the Grand Suite, which was the Wrigley’s personal living quarters. To see the quieter town of Two Harbors, try the Banning House Lodge, which has rustic charm, detached bungalows, a free shuttle into town and more.
Slip into the temperate waters of Lover’s Cove on Catalina. Light beams dance and sway beneath the green canopy of kelp, a sea grass that can grow one foot a day. Bright orange garibaldi ignite the scene with their fiery, neon-orange presence. See giant sea bass, flirty harbor seals, a fleet of sea lions and elegant bat rays. And that’s just the start of your adventures in the national marine park that surrounds this Channel Island: Lover’s Cove tops the list, but you can snorkel from any coast on this island and get lost in your reverie.
In Avalon, the most famous landmark is the Casino building, the “place of entertainment” built in 1929 as a movie theater and ballroom. The Art-Deco wonders of the Casino are open for special events, and the building is also home to the Casino Art Gallery, Avalon Theater and Catalina Island Museum. Hike one and a half miles up Avalon Canyon Road to the Wrigley Memorial; it honors the island’s longtime owner, chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley and is the centerpiece of a fine botanical garden specializing in plants native to California’s islands. Along the way you’ll pass the nine-hole golf course (Southern California’s oldest, built in 1892) and the baseball diamond where the Wrigley-owned Chicago Cubs used to hold spring training. If you’re up to it, pick up a free hiking permit and scramble up the ridge trail that starts at the memorial. Or, on the way back to town, detour onto Wrigley Road which is right below the Inn at Mount Ada (the Wrigleys’ former summer home and now a popular B&B) for the best view of the town and Avalon Bay.
The sheltered leeward waters near Avalon are just right for first- time kayakers — and a good place to become acquainted with the floating world of giant kelp beds. Beginners and intermediates alike can join a tour that starts at Little Harbor, on the southern shore, and explores the windward side’s coves and cliffs, where bald eagles soar.
Catalina Official Tourism Website
Learn more through the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce.