CIVR Blog: Catalina Island in summer

IMG_20140703_152012_255For more than 100 years, Catalina Island’s siren song of summer has been irresistible to travelers. In July and August, its beaches echo with happy kids, its restaurants are full of hungry travelers and visitors can be found enjoying the island’s many activities.

Plan Ahead. Summer – particularly the weekends – is not the time for spontaneity. This is a time when planning ahead will serve you well. Accommodations, boat trips and activities tend to fill up a few weeks ahead of time in the summer, so preparation will ward disappointment.

Make reservations. Speaking of planning, summer is a good time to make reservations. Calling ahead to secure your spot will help ensure that your chosen kayak tour, cross channel carrier or restaurant is available when you want it.

Be flexible. Even during peak season on Catalina Island there are times when you can escape the crowds. Visit your favorite restaurant before the rush – have lunch at 11 a.m. instead of 12 p.m. or dinner at 5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.  Things to do on Catalina also have a prime time, depending on what you want to do that maybe in the late afternoon or the early morning.

Head for the hills. Even when Avalon and Two Harbors are bustling with visitors, the rest of the island can frequently feel quite deserted. Summer is the perfect time to hit the trail and explore the rest of Santa Catalina.

CIVR Blog: Island Spa Catalina

An artist's rendering of the new spa scheduled to open this month on Catalina Island.

An artist’s rendering of the new spa scheduled to open later this year on Catalina Island.

Island Spa Catalina

Catalina Island’s newest attraction is scheduled to open later this year in the form of Island Spa Catalina, a luxurious retreat located in what was the El Encanto Marketplace. Island Spa Catalina offers 15,000 square feet of indoor space, which includes nine decadent treatment rooms and a variety of relaxing experiences.

The new spa will pamper guests with a soaking pool, sun deck and expansive views of Avalon Harbor. The treatment rooms will be the location of massages, facials and body wraps and a hair and nail salon will offer a new level of beauty treatments, including spray tans and make-up application.  At the corner of Crescent and Marilla avenues, Island Spa Catalina will be the first destination day spa for Catalina and will allow visitors to treat themselves to hours of relaxation. Specialty showers, a dry inhalation sauna and a eucalyptus steam room will be available for spa guests in addition to the outdoor spaces.

Island Spa Catalina, which will also be home to a cafe and gift store, features a marine inspired color palette and includes original Catalina tile.

CIVR Blog: White’s Landing on Catalina Island

Catalina Island, California

White’s Landing has one of the largest sand beaches on Catalina Island

White’s Landing

One of Catalina Island’s largest sand beaches is located at White’s Landing, a wide cove about four miles northwest from Avalon.

The wide sand beach and gentle canyon at White’s Landing have long appealed to humans and the area was a center of activity for thousands of years before Europeans arrived on Catalina Island.  Past archeological excavations in the area have revealed that generations of native islanders inhabited White’s Landing.

In the 19th and 20th century, the beach at White’s Landing proved to be an ideal location for loading ore and livestock to ship them to the mainland. Herds of cattle and sheep were driven aboard ships and sent to the mainland, and lead and zinc ore mined from Blackjack were transported to White’s Landing before being sent across the channel for processing.

Today White’s Landing on Catalina Island is home to two private beach clubs belonging to Balboa Yacht Club and San Diego Yacht Club, as well as a large summer camp facility known as The Catalina Experience.  A number of moorings are available and the White’s Landing is a popular destination for boaters.

CIVR Blog: Hiking on Catalina Island

Many hikes on Catalina offer amazing views.

Many hikes on Catalina offer amazing views.


Hiking on Catalina Island

Hiking Catalina Island offers something for everything.  Whether you’re looking for a quick jaunt from your vacation rental or a multi-day challenge that will get you completely off the grid, Catalina Island hiking is an activity not to be missed.

The centerpiece of hiking on Catalina Island is the Trans Catalina Trail, a multi-day (or multi-trip) challenge that stretches from the East End of the island to the West End. Cleared, maintained and owned by the Catalina Island Conservancy, the Trans Catalina Trail requires planning and preparation and hikers should be in good physical condition due to the sometimes extreme elevation changes.

Catalina Island hiking doesn’t always require such an investment in time, however. Whether you’re visiting Two Harbors or Avalon, there are several rewarding day hikes available, ranging from an hour-long stroll to full-day adventures. The Hour Trail in Avalon Canyon is a popular escape off the beaten path, providing great views of both Avalon and, when the weather is clear, the Southern California mainland. In Two Harbors, the hike along Cat Harbor to Ballast Point is a great chance to experience the undeveloped, natural beauty of Catalina.

Whichever option you choose for hiking on Catalina, the island will provide unparalleled views, spectacular vistas and flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.

CIVR Blog: Long Point on Catalina Island

Catalina Island, California

Long Point is the widest point on Catalina Island

Catalina Island offers a number of interesting numbers. 76 square miles. Half a mile wide at its narrowest. 22 miles long. 2,097 feet high at its highest. 54 miles of coastline. One of the most common Catalina Island dimensions is width: Catalina Island is eight miles wide at its widest point. On the lee side, that point is Long Point — a geographic designation and place name that appears on nearly every map of the island.

Like many place names, the exact origin of Long Point is lost to history, but it’s not hard to imagine how it got its name. Long Point juts toward the mainland and is easily spotted from just offshore of either Avalon Harbor or Isthmus Cove. Long Point is nearly at the center of Catalina Island and boaters can frequently find shelter from rough water on one side or the other, depending on the origin of the prevailing swell.  A Coast Guard Light illuminates Long Point to alert boaters to its presence.

Beaches on either side of Long Point on Catalina Island provide respite for kayakers and other paddlers and the area sports one of Catalina Island’s boat-in campsites.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Casino Dive Park

Catalina Island is one of the best dive destinations in the USA

Catalina Island is one of the best dive destinations in the USA

In the shadow of the Catalina Casino Building is one of the most popular scuba diving spots in North America. The waters off the Casino Point Dive Park have been welcoming underwater explorers since before scuba diving was invented and today sees tens of thousands of dives each year.

In the early part of the 20th Century, the Catalina Diving Bell took intrepid tourists below the surface for a peek at Catalina’s fascinating marine life; as scuba became recreationally available, the waters off the Casino Breakwater became a popular spot to the take the plunge.

With depths ranging from 30 to more than 100 feet, the park is an ideal spot for new divers to have their first underwater experiences, but also offers enough marine life and challenges for even the most experienced diver. Very few days don’t see at least a few divers in the park, but its popularity can vary from just a few intrepid souls during the week in the winter to hundreds of divers on a busy summer weekend. The park is home to wide array of marine life, from fascinating octopus, menacing morays and brightly colored nudibranchs, to schools of baitfish, graceful bat rays and playful sea lions. Several wrecks dot the bottom and a plaque dedicated to ocean pioneer Jacques Cousteau inspires continued ocean exploration.

Air fills are available at the park and local dive shops offer both guided dives for certified divers and Experience Scuba adventures for those with no experience.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Vacation Rentals’ YouTube Channel

YouTube Channel offers a glimpse at Catalina Island

YouTube, with millions of videos created by hundreds of thousands of users, has become an integral part of the internet experience. Millions of people log on to the user-created website every day, looking for videos that entertain, educate and edify.  Vacation planning is one area for which YouTube is particularly well suited.

With more than two dozen videos, Catalina Island Vacation Rentals YouTube channel gives you the chance to explore a range of accommodations and activities on the island. “The Catalina YouTube channel is a great way for new guests to get an overview of the island and a sneak peak at some of our properties,” said CIVR Director of Marketing Amy Tran. “It’s also a great way for existing guests to relive the fun and plan their next Catalina Island getaway.”

Several of Catalina Island Vacation Rentals’ properties are spotlighted on the Catalina YouTube channel, including Avalon Homes, Avalon Condos and Hamilton Cove Villas. A number of videos on the channel offer an overview of Catalina Island Vacation Rentals as a company. Viewers will also discover several videos that offer a great look at the island itself.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Ski Race


The Catalina Ski Race starts and ends in Long Beach with an exciting turn near Avalon. Photo courtesy Daren Van Ryte / OC Photo Graphics

Catalina Ski Race zooms into Avalon July 19

Catalina Island and the waters surrounding it are home to a cornucopia of races, relays and runs. Marathons, triathlons and bike rides are just a few of the ways that athletes challenge themselves on this Southern California vacation getaway. The waters between the island and the mainland also see their fair share of competitions, including swims and paddles. Each summer for the last 65 years, those waters have also seen one of the fastest competitions.

The Catalina Ski Race attracts top water skiers from around the world for one of the most challenging open ocean water ski races on the globe. Competitors regularly reach speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour as they race across the channel, swing around the turn boat which will be off Descanso Beach and then head back to the mainland for the finish line. The race starts and finishes just off the Queen Mary in Long Beach, but hundreds of spectators line up to watch the turnaround on the island.

This year’s Catalina Ski Race is scheduled for Saturday, July 19. The first boats with their skiers will leave the starting line at 8:53 a.m. Helicopters frequently follow the racers, so air traffic may be a bit heavy. The race concludes back in Long Beach, with top skiers typically finishing in less than an hour.

CIVR Blog: Beach Bingo Catalina Island

Family traditions abound on Catalina Island. For many families, a week vacation in Avalon is an annual migration that goes back generations. Whether it’s dinner at a particular restaurant, family hikes or beach towels at a certain spot, those family getaways often include the same activities year after year.

One spot where families can frequently be found is on South Beach during Summer Beach Bingo. Held every Tuesday and Thursday through Aug. 25, Summer Beach Bingo is hosted by the City of Avalon’s Recreation Department. Cards are only $1 and winners will receive a variety of prizes donated by local businesses. Dozens of people typically show up for Summer Beach Bingo on Catalina Island, which happens from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., although showing up a few minutes early to get a good spot is encouraged. The bingo caller will be at the lifeguard stand in the middle of South Beach. For more information, call the City of Avalon at (310) 510-0220.

CIVR Blog: Summer Camp on Catalina Island

Catalina Island Marine Institute is just one of many summer camps on Catalina Island

Catalina Island Marine Institute is just one of many summer camps on Catalina Island

Summer camp has been a rite of passage for millions of children for generations. Campfires, crafts and outdoor activities combine with unique environments, new friends and time away from parents to create indelible memories that will last a lifetime. For millions of kids, those summer camp memories are made on Catalina Island.

This Southern California vacation hot spot is also home to several camps, ranging from scout camps to one of the top marine science camps in the country. Catalina Island camps offer both terrestrial and marine activities including hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and swimming as well as traditional summer camp activities like camp fires, crafts and sports. Some camps also offer ropes courses, scuba diving lessons and sailing.  Summer camps on Catalina Island are located at Howland’s Landing, Toyon Bay, White’s Landing and many other lee side coves. The camps are offered by a number of different organizations, including Catalina Island Camps, Guided Discoveries and the boy and girl scouts.

Looking to send the kids to camp, but can’t stand the thought of not being on the same landmass? Catalina Island Vacation Rentals would be happy to find you a home away from home in Avalon while your offspring are off enjoying themselves at a Catalina Island camp.