Guest Blogger: Two Harbors Casas

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Photo credit: Let’s Play OC!

We stayed at the beautiful Casa Santa Cruz, a renovated modern rental home in Two Harbors that’s centrally located with views of both harbors seen throughout the house. It can accommodate 8 comfortably with three bedrooms (each has a view of a harbor, the master has a view of both harbors), two full restrooms, a loft with a pull-out bed and DVD player, full kitchen, dining area, a living room, and two patios. Amenities include a full washer/dryer, dishes, silverware, a BBQ, and cookware.

NOTE: There is no WIFI in the rental, however, there is free WIFI next to the restaurant.

After we played in the water all day, we picked up supplies and ingredients from their General Store to make dinner every night. They had all the tools we needed. It doesn’t get much better than this. How would you like to dine every night with a breathtaking view of Isthmus Cove from your patio?

Isthmus Cove, Two Harbors CA Catalina Island Photo by (c) LetsPlayOC.com 798

Photo credit: Let’s Play OC!

There is one restaurant, one general store, campgrounds, and a recreational center where you can rent bikes, kayaks, snorkeling, SCUBA gear, and umbrellas, etc.

What to Pack:
Beach Towels (there are towels in the rental but they are white),
Groceries and ingredients (plan your meals ahead),
Music (It’s like a party house with plenty of seating throughout the house),
Bug Spray (don’t forget to apply it in the evening),
Warm clothing for nightly walks, and
Your favorite DVD’s for movie nights (they have a great selection there too).

Written by Mary Tran. Mary is a mom of two boys who blogs about family fun things in Orange County at LetsPlayOC.com. To read more about Mary’s Tips for Two Harbors and staying at Casa Santa Cruz, please visit: http://www.letsplayoc.com/2015/07/catalina-island-vacation-rental-casa-santa-cruz-two-harbors.html

Disclosure: We received a media rate. All opinions are our own.

CIVR Blog: Rotary Club of Avalon

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Rotary Club of Avalon

Catalina Island’s nearly 4,000 residents work and play year round on the island. Many of them also find time to give back through one of Avalon’s several service clubs.

One of the most active Santa Catalina Island service clubs also happens to be one of the most popular service clubs in the world. The Rotary Club of Avalon has dozens of members, all of which contribute to the organization’s local and international service projects, including scholarships and polio eradication.

On the island, Rotary sponsors and organizes the popular Two Harbors Summer Wine Festival held every June as well as various events throughout the year. Each Fourth of July, they also help fund the costs associated with bringing the University of Southern California marching band to take part in the Fourth of July Parade, which is always a highlight of the event.

Working with Interact, Rotary’s club for high school aged members, the club has also helped ship books to Romania from Catalina. Rotary steps in after Avalon Library’s semi-annual book sale, collecting unsold books, which are shipped to villages in Romania for educational purposes.

Avalon Rotary meets every Wednesday and visiting Rotarians are also welcome. Meetings are held at 12:15 p.m.  at the M Restaurant, 205 Crescent Avenue, and always include lunch and a guest speaker. For more information, contact Rotary Club of Avalon President Autumn Reifsnyder at (310) 510-1450.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Women’s Forum

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CIWF 2013 logoGiving Back on Catalina Island

One of the things that intrigues visitors to Santa Catalina Island is that it’s much more than just a top Southern California vacation destination. It’s also a community. People live here, work here and create their lives here. Living here means schools, churches and service clubs, places for residents to give, give back and make a difference.

One service club that is unique to the island is the Catalina Island Women’s Forum. Founded in 1995, CIWF is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Avalon’s women. The forum has an active mentoring program that helps local high school girls face the challenges of everyday life as well as a scholarship program that assists local students  finance college on the mainland. A domestic violence program provides financial and emotional support for victims of domestic violence as well as community education.

Catalina Island Women’s Forum members support their organizations programs with two annual fundraisers. A trip raffle in the spring provides the opportunity to win a week-long getaway and in the early fall, the Catalina Island Wine Festival attracts hundreds of people to taste dozens of wines. Scheduled for Sept. 13, 2014, the wine festival is a must-do event for fans of the island who also enjoy wine.

CIVR Blog: Cruise Ships

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Cruise ships bring hundreds of thousands of passengers to Catalina Island

Catalina Island hosts more than a million visitors a year. Attracted by beautiful vistas, crystal clear waters and the small-town charm of Avalon, those visitors come from around the world to relax on Catalina’s beaches, explore the island’s interior and experience the many wonders of Santa Catalina.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors also experience Catalina Island as part of a cruise. Depending on the time of year, two to four ships a week stop in Avalon. Those ships are usually home-ported in Los Angeles or Long Beach and their stop in Avalon is an important one for the local economy.

Carnival Cruise Lines makes the most stops in Avalon, bringing two ships a week. Currently, Imagination and Inspiration stop on Monday and Tuesday respectively, as part of their four-day cruises from Long Beach. Both ships carry more than two thousand passengers. During the fall and spring months, additional ships from different cruise lines visit Avalon on seven-day Pacific Coastal cruises. Through the end of April, one of those ships will be the Celebrity Century, which stops in Avalon on Thursdays. Holland America, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Princess Cruise Lines and even The World, a luxury ownership based cruise ship, have all made stops at Catalina Island, Calif.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Hummingbirds

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Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Catalina Island’s high-energy fliers

Two of Catalina Island’s most fascinating bird species are also its smallest. With wings that beat faster than our eyes can register, these winged acrobats are an endless source of fascination. Anna’s Hummingbird is the more common species, but Catalina is also home to Allen’s Hummingbird. Both species live on the island year round, although on the mainland, Allen’s Hummingbirds usually migrate in the winter.

Male Allen’s Hummingbirds have bronze and green back and head with a coppery red throat. Anna’s males on the other hand, have a scarlet throat and a more metallic green back. Females of both species, which don’t have the distinctive throat colors, can be very difficult to differentiate, especially for amateur birders.

Both species can frequently be found in Avalon, attracted to the many feeders and flowers in the quaint town. The territorial birds zip and dive, screeching challenges to interlopers. Particularly popular feeders may host dozens of hummingbirds, all eager for the nectar – natural or human provided – that sustains their high-energy lifestyle.

CIVR Blog: Lions Club of Avalon

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Photo credit: Avalon Lions Club

Photo credit: Avalon Lions Club

Lions Club of Avalon an institution on Catalina Island

“Do you really live here?” is a comment that Catalina Island residents get on an almost daily basis. And yes, we really do. We live here, work here and volunteer here.

Like any community, Avalon, CA has plenty of clubs and organizations that give residents a chance to give back and better their community. Some of those clubs are unique to Santa Catalina Island, but many, such as Rotary and Lions, can be found in many communities around the globe.

Founded in 1947, the Lions Club of Avalon has been an island institution since shortly after the island returned to civilian control after World War II. Throughout more than half a century of its existence, the Lions Club of Avalon has donated millions of dollars to the Catalina Island community, sponsoring classrooms at Avalon Schools, funding improvements at the Catalina Island Medical Center and much more.

The men who make up the Lions Club of Avalon volunteer numerous hours to help the community. A recent project installed shade structures at Catalina Kid Ventures Preschool.  The club is an essential volunteer source for the many races and runs that are held on the island, with Lions Club aid stations a part of nearly every race held on the island. That tradition of sponsoring and hosting long-distance races goes back decades for the Lions, which started a Run for Sight in 1986 in support of the Lions Eye Mobile and the many other sight-related causes supported by Lions International.

Today the Avalon Lions meet twice a month for dinner on the second and fourth Wednesdays. Call (310) 422-1406 for more information.

CIVR Blog: Shipwreck Weekend at Two Harbors

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Shipwrecked Two Harbors

Shipwreck weekend at Two Harbors

Countless visitors have daydreamed of being shipwrecked on Catalina Island, isolated from the pressures and stresses of everyday life, free to wander the beaches and explore the coast and coves indefinitely. Now, at least at the Isthmus of Catalina, you can pretend you are shipwrecked for the weekend.

April 11 to 13 will see the second annual Shipwreck Weekend at Two Harbors. Far from depriving you of the necessities of life, Shipwreck Weekend provides live music, dancing and a DJ as well as a treasure hunt, costume contest and the plenty of drinkables of the over-21 variety.

Located at the west end, Two Harbors on Catalina Island is home to a bar, restaurant, general store and unparalleled natural beauty. Its remote location appeals to those seeking adventure and respite from the stresses of the mainland. Lodging options in Two Harbors include camping, a bed and breakfast and two exclusive vacation rentals managed by Catalina Island Vacation Rentals. Casa Santa Cruz and Casa Santa Rosa offer all the comforts of home along with spectacular views of the two harbors that make up Two Harbors.

CIVR Blog: Easter on Catalina

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Easter on Catalina

Easter on Catalina

Easter on Catalina Island

If you’re looking for a chance to turn your kids loose to hunt plastic eggs or hunting for your next great artistic treasure, Catalina Island is the place to be this Easter. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which this year schedules the holiday on Sunday, April 20.

In Avalon on Catalina Island, the Easter fun starts on April 16, with egg dying in City Park. Sponsored by the City of Avalon Recreation Department, the free event will start at 2 p.m. Bring your own eggs – hard-boiled recommended. The next day, April 17, Springfest takes over Crescent Avenue with food, fun and games for whole family. On Saturday, April 19, the city will sponsor an Easter Egg Hunt for kids third grade and under just below Avalon Schools at Avalon Canyon Road. The race for eggs starts at 9 a.m. and, trust me, you won’t want to be late.

The Catalina Art Association will fill Crescent Avenue with arts, artisans and crafts on Easter weekend for the Fifth Annual Catalina Art Fair and Exhibition. CAFÉ will be three days of art and entertainment, with the art and craft show kicking off on Friday evening.

At Two Harbors, at Catalina Island’s West End, Easter weekend is also filled with activities. On Saturday, April 19, morning hat decorating will lead into an afternoon hat parade. On Easter morning, the day will start with an Easter Egg Hunt in Two Harbors Plaza and Easter Brunch at the West End Galley. All of the Easter fun at Two Harbors is sponsored by the Corsair Yacht Club.

CIVR Blog: Ride Away

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Photo courtesy Mountain Bike Action.

Photo courtesy Mountain Bike Action.

Ride away to island paradise

Catalina Island’s back country has attracted generations of adventurers. Hunters, hikers and campers have long found the island’s rugged hills and dramatic vistas a source for adventure. Catalina’s remote trails and unique tracks are also an irresistible allure to mountain bikers, who find the rugged terrain a challenge to the legs and a balm to the soul.

On May 17, dozens of those bikers will come together to compete in the Catalina Island Gran Fondo, a competition that attracts both novice and expert mountain bikers. With four routes, this year’s Gran Fondo truly offers something for everyone. The Middle Island, Ridgeline, Two Harbors and Airport routes will all offer participants a challenge, while spotlighting Catalina’s unique flora and fauna and challenging terrain. Routes range from 14 to 55 miles, but all include challenging elevation changes.

Organized by US Cup, a national mountain bike support organization, the Catalina Island Gran Fondo will be held on Saturday, May 17, and registration must be made no later than Thursday, May 15. Riders can count on a range of aid and feed stations throughout the course. For more information, visit the website for US Cup.

CIVR Blog: State Bird on Catalina

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Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Catalina island is home to California’s state bird

Whether it’s bald eagles soaring over the island’s remote coastline or ravens frolicking in the skies over Avalon, bird life on Catalina Island is fascinating for both lifelong birders and amateur avian aficionados. One species that makes Catalina Island home is a signature species for the state. The California quail is California’s official state bird. There are seven subspecies of California quail, one of which makes its home on Catalina Island.

These ground-dwelling birds are grey and tan and have a distinctive top knot of feathers. They eat berries and seeds and prefer to run when startled, but can occasionally take to the air in a short, low-flying burst. Quail are social creatures, usually found in small groups known as coveys, which depending on time of year can expand to impressive numbers.

Quail are relatively common on the island, although they are considered a bird species of special concern by the California Department of Fish and Game. They seem to enjoy foraging along the roadsides and can often be spotted near the top of Avalon Canyon Road. If you have a chance for venture further afield, Middle Ranch Road is another favorite spot for quail spotting.