Santa Catalina Island sometimes called Catalina Island or just Catalina is located in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The rocky island rests in the state of California which is about 22 miles long and 8 miles wide. It is located approximately 22 miles southwest from Los Angeles, California. Catalina houses Mt. Orizaba which stands 2, 097 feet from the ground and is part of the Channel Islands of California archipelago.
In the early days, Native Americans who called themselves "Pimugnans" or "Pimuvit" called Catalina Island as Pimugna or Pimu. When the first Europeans arrived on the island asserted the area for the Spanish Empire. In the past decades, Mexico claimed the island but later on transferred the rights to the United States. But not until the island was used as a place for otter hunting, gold digging and often times for smuggling. Everything changed in the 1920s when William Wrigley, Jr. developed Catalina Island as a major tourist destination. A few decades later, the Catalina Island Conservancy claimed most of the island making is a sanctuary for most of its parts.
According to the 2010 census, the island is home for the 4,096 residents and 90% of them lived in Avalon, the island’s only incorporated city. Some of the residents live in the other incorporated village of Two Harbors, while the rest of the population are scattered within the island.
Catalina Island is a place which many considered as paradise. It attracts thousands of visitors to see the pristine beaches hidden in the area. Here are some of the places you can visit while on the island. Enjoy!
Descanso Beach Club
The best vacation you can give to your family is going to the Descanso Beach Club. Hidden in a secluded beach cove just behind the Catalina Island Casino, it offers numerous activities and entertainment for you family. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the beach while sitting in some of its cozy loungers. This private beach has fine dining restaurants, bars and you guess it, exciting nightlife.
The beach club offers water activities like snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving. They also have activities for the whole family to get the adrenaline rush going, such as wall climbing and zip lining. If you get tired from all those activities, they even offer beach massages while overlooking a perfect sunset by the beach.
Catalina Island also offers a camping ground for those who like to be close to Mother Nature. Situated on the west end of the island, campers can find a good campground near Parson’s Landing at Starlight Beach. Rocky cliffs surround the north-facing beach and people can only access it using a trail at the back of the cove. Starlight Beach is the endpoint of a backpacking course, the Trans-Catalina Trail. However, the beach is only for day-use only with and does not allow any overnight camping. It’s a popular destination for backpackers who want to end their trek, swimming in its crystal blue water.
Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden
The chewing gum tycoon, and the owner of the largest chewing gum factory in the world, William Wrigley Jr., was the man behind the development of Catalina Island. Thanks to him, the history of the island as a smuggler’s den changed into a popular tourist spot. The Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden was built to honor such undertaking. The Catalina Island Conservancy operates the botanical garden which featured numerous endangered species. It spreads across 38 acres of beautiful landscapes and serves as a gateway in the Garden to Sky Trail, one of the most famous hike trails on the island. The Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden is located in the Avalon Canyon.
Crescent Avenue is the main commercial center in Avalon. The area is a popular shopping destination for souvenirs and a great place to experience local cuisines. It stretches along Summer, Metropole, Catalina and Crescent Avenue and from the area you can easily navigate to other parts of the island. Try to stroll in each street as they offer different aspects about the island. One famous destination for the kids and kids at heart is Lloyd’s candy shop that sells saltwater taffy since 1934.
This trail travels from the eastern tip to the western end of the Catalina Island. The 37.2-mile trail starts from Avalon and ends in Starlight Beach. Hikers may need to take a boat back to Two Harbors to catch a boat. This adds another nine miles making the total trek about 46 miles. It’s a great destination for nature buffs as the trail ranges from easy to difficult treks to offer to both intermediate and expert trekkers. The Trans-Catalina Trail comprises of five camping grounds including Parson’s Landing, Little Harbor, and Two Harbors. Hiking permits are mandatory in these parts and you can get one at the Two Harbors Visitor’s Services Office.
Catalina Island Museum
To preserve the cultural heritage of Catalina Island, the museum was funded in 1953. Officials collect, interpret and preserve the rich history of the island. The museum displays exhibits of artifacts that are thousands of years old. It is located in the historic Casino Building in Avalon. Aside from these exhibits, the museum also offers workshops and lecture, they also cater for special events tailored fit for visitors.
Located about 20 miles from Avalon, Two Harbors is named after Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor. It’s a rustic village within the shoreline of Catalina Island. Two Harbors is accessible only via high-speed ferry departing from San Pedro. The area is a great place to spend your vacation as it offers accommodations from cottages, bed, and breakfast to campgrounds. It also has a different variety of restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Also, Two Harbors is one of the popular destinations for water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving. You can also find other recreational activities in Two Harbors.
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Silver Canyon Pottery
A local from Catalina Island named Robin Cassidy founded the Silver Canyon Pottery in 1988. Cassidy is a famous artist involved in restoring the tiles of downtown Avalon. The iconic tiles were made during the era of 1920 up until 1930. The pottery offers ceramic works and world class dinnerware, figurines, and decorative tiles. The factory also features shows on how they make their famous tiles. A library which contains a wide range of book selection about the island is available for visitors. You can even read the book overlooking the very scenic Catalina Island.
Cherish those memories. Catalina Island is regarded as on of the most romantic places in California. Remember it by placing it near your hear.