The beach at Toyon on Catalina Island
One of Catalina Island’s most fascinating spots is located just a short boat ride from Avalon. Toyon Bay was a training camp of the CIA and has since been home to a private boys school and is now one of the premier marine science camps in the country.
During World War II, Catalina Island was transformed into a key component of the war effort. From one end of the island to the other, various branches of the military prepared and trained for what was considered an imminent invasion from the west. One spot where frogmen trained for covert operations was the beach at Toyon Bay, home of survivalist training for the Office of Strategic Services – which would soon become the Central Intelligence Agency.
After the war ended, the beach once again became learning a lab and playground for the Catalina Island School for Boys. In 1979, the lease for the cove and canyon beyond it was purchased by Guided Discoveries, which today uses the historic buildings for housing and classrooms for the Catalina Island Marine Institute. The beach at Toyon is divided by a pier. It features a wide sandy beach and shallow cove that is frequently home to gentle leopard sharks which thrill snorkelers. The beach is generally restricted to campers at CIMI, which offers campers a tempting mix of marine science and outdoor adventure.