For about 50 USD per person, a company by the name of "Discovery Tours" offer a ride through the island via a truck for about 4 hours.. you may purchase the tickets online or at the counter as you get off the boat at the harbour. The tour starts off by driving through the island and passing by houses, one of them being the location where the writer, Zane Grey wrote many of his western books in the past.. The tour continues through the bushes to a ranch called "El Rancho Escondido" where you sit for about 15 minutes and watch a brief horse riding demonstration.. There is a museam there with lots of old horse accessories such as wagons and saddles. From there, the truck continues through more bushes and you get to see Buffalo's in wild at a distance.. The airport is the next stop.. nothing really spectacular here; just a few private tiny planes parked and a little gift shop and a food court.. The truck then drives to a point high up on the hills where passengers can get off and take pictures of the Catalina Island coast.. The truck then drives back to where it took off from, somewhere in town by the harbor.. I almost forgot, at the end of your journey, you get a free head band from the gift shop with the map of Catalina Island on it.
Where they used to keep a lot of horses in the past, now it's a pretty quiet ranch where tour guides drive up trucks there for tourists to visit the ranch and the museum inside. The museum consists of Silver horse saddles and old wagons on display.. it's well worth the visit just to see the small museum.. If you're a horse lover and a fan of history, You'll like it here..
It's a wonderful and relaxing feeling to stand on the pier, gazing at the clear blue water and watch the boats pass you by one by one.. Little kids feed the fish food machine a quarter to get a fist full of grains to feed the fish by the pier.. Watching the fish, mostly perch with the occasional bright yellow or red fish attack the food thrown in by the kids is a great site... Great place for a family to visit at least once during their stay on Catalina Island..
Renting a golf cart is probably one of the biggest activities there is on the island. For $40 an hour, you can cruise around wherever your golf cart can take you. Regular automobiles are limited on the island and most visitors and locals drive around on golf carts.
This walk is only about 10 minutes but it is quite lovely.
You walk along the water and take in the spectacular scenery. You'll walk past the harbor, the old yachting clubs,
and the casino. On your left are some mural tiles that are really lovely that were just designed a few years ago. They trace the history of Avalon in the old Malibu tile style. A popular type of tile that was prevelent in the 1930s in Southern California. The artist is Keit Tile located in Ojai.
The walk ends at Descanso beach where you can rest,
rent kayaks, or just order a pina collada. There are benches along the way to rest and take in the scenery.
Take a tour bus ride up through the hills behind Avalon to the airport. It's an old airport built in the 1930s. On your way up you will get to see some great scenery and some wild Buffalo.
The Buffalo were brought to the island in the 1920s by a film company making a silent movie. They needed Buffalo to make their Western more authentic so they imported Buffalo. The Buffalo were left behind, and with very little to do decided to procreate. 80 years later they are still around. There are two companies on Catalina that offer various tours, they are both good and similarly priced. They offer many tours, land and sea.
Catalina is surrounded by pristine waters that offer wonderful snorkeling. You can rent wet suits plus equipment for about $15 - $20 a day per person. You can lock your valuables in a locker by the dock for about $2. Then you can walk a short way to Lover's cove. It is a little bay that has easy access for snorkelers and swimmers. There are no waves to speak of.
In the later summer months, the water is warmer, and the visiblility is very good. Anywhere between 50 and 100ft.
The most popular fish is the bright orange garibaldi. The baby garibaldis are flourescent blue and orange, very cute. There are sardines, sheepheads, wrasse, mackeral, anchovies, moray eels, Lobsters, bass, bat rays, etc. There is an abundence of sea life. The water is so clear you can see the garibaldis when you get off the boat. Sometimes you can get a glimpse of a sea lion as well. Just beautiful! When you are snorkeling, watch out for the submarine looking tourist boats that come too close to the shore. They will sound a horn to tell you to move. You can also snorkel off of Casino Point, this is where the divers go, but it is a longer walk and the beach entry is much more difficult and a little scary at times. Lover's Cove is best for families and novice snorkelers.
Check out the Casino. It is a realy cool California art deco building. It was used for dances years ago, and now it is also used as a movie theatre. It was never actually used as a casino. There are tours that take you inside, but the exterior is what I like the best.
There are many places renting out bicycles. We rented a tandem bike (bicycle for two). The island has very strict rules as to where you can bike and where you can't bike and we pretended we were lost and decided to ride uphill on one of the roads you shouldn't travel. Boy, it was a struggle and had to even walk some of the way up. Riding back down was a breeze!
This grand Art Deco landmark structure has nothing in common with Las Vegas gambling houses. When it was built in 1929, America was in the a dance craze, and dance pavilions called "casinos" sprang up all over the country.. The Casino Ballroom was one of the finest, drawing thousands of well-dressed dancers from the mainland. They came by steamship to Charleston and later jitterbug on the huge parquet floor, then later to dance to the the Big Band music of the 1930's and 1940's.
Although the big bands have faded away, the Casino Ballroom still attracts crowds for celebrations of all sorts. Twelve stories high and 180 feet in diameter, the Casino has an Art Deco movie theater downstairs and a simply enormous ballroom on top. Completely restored just a few years ago, the ballroom retains its original style; rose-hued walls, black Art Deco reliefs, an arching fifty-foot ceiling with five Tiffany chandeliers, an elevated stage, raised seating areas around the dance floor, and a vintage, full-service bar in back. The outdoor balcony that encircles the ballroom overlooks Avalon Bay where seals, dolphins, and brightly-colored fish are swim in the clear waters. And from here the view of the mainland is fabulous, sometimes stretching all the way from Ventura to San Diego.
Pleasure Pier is aptly named as this is where you will find the boats, tour companies and equipment for a pleasurable stay on Catalina.
Catalina Diver's Supply on the pier rent diving gear, give lessons and guide dive and snorkel tours
The Catalina Fountain in the picture is covered with the mosaic tile make on the Island. In the early 1920's clay deposits were found by Mr. Wrigley , so, he and David Rento invested in a tile factory. By 1927 the plant was complete and in full operation which continued until 1947. You will see examples of this tile in the Casino and other buildings on the Island. The making of tile has continued by individuals and pieces of decorative tile and pottery can be purchased at the different stores on the Island and also on line.
Many select pieces of tile and pottery can be found at the Catalina Island Museum
In 1919, William Wrigly Jr. (yes, the gum guy) bought the Island. Wrigley bought the island to develop it, but then he decided to keep it in its natural state and protect it. He only allowed a few animals and plants to be brought here from the mainland. The Wrigley mansion is now a "Wrigley Marine Science Center " where students learn about the island and where they teach about diving, marine mammals, diving accident management and other classes. It also contains a hyper baric chamber - It is an emergency center for the treatment of scuba diving accidents.
You can only see the gate into the mansion, as it is no longer open to the public. It was at one time as I remember touring the grounds and the house.
Mrs. Wrigley was responsible for inviting a horticulturalist to plant the botanical garden, which is now called the Wrigley Memorial Garden. The original garden was planted in 1935 and was expanded again in 1969 to over 37 acres. There grows indigenous plants, mostly cactus, from the California islands. Some of these plants grow nowhere else in the world many are on the Endangered Species list.
At the high point of the garden, overlooking Avalon Bay, sits a monument to honor William Wrigley Jr. for his dedication to Catalina. He not only built the famous Casino but he made vast improvements on the island such as public utilities and new steamships as well as extensive planting of trees, shrubs and flowers. Nearly all the materials used to build this monument came from the Island.
The beach on Avalon Bay is quite popular and it's filled with sunbathers during the summer months. I prefer visiting there in the spring or fall when the weather is still warm. The bay was called "Bay of the Seven Moons" at one time.
The house you see in the background perched up on the hill is called Holly Hill House. It was completed in 1889 by a Frenchman and with his horse "Mercury" pulled the lumber up from the beach to build it. The house has now been restored to elegance by the present owner.