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CIVR Blog: Catalina Spring Fest

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Catalina Spring Fest

Catalina Spring Fest

Celebrating spring comes in many different forms. Warmer waters, green hillsides and emerging wildflowers are just a few of the ways Mother Nature celebrates spring. On Catalina, spring also means busier days, more visitors and more fun.  Avalon, Catalina Island’s only city, celebrates spring with a community-wide festival.

Organized by the City of Avalon’s Recreation Department, Catalina Spring Fest invites local organizations to set up along Crescent Avenue from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Those organizations provide food and fun – while doing a bit of fund raising for their cause. Carnival-style games, live music and more will provide fun for the whole family.

Avalon’s picturesque waterfront and long twilight provide the perfect backdrop for Spring Fest, which brings together locals and visitors alike. The evening’s many food vendors will offer snacks, meals and desserts – or take a break from the fun at an Avalon restaurant. Strolling among the booths gives visitors an entertaining insight into many of the community organizations the support the town and its residents.

This year, Springfest will also include Earth Day celebrations and local environmental organizations will have information about how you can reduce your impact on the earth.

CIVR Blog: Walking in Avalon

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Walking in Avalon offers the reward of beautiful views

Walking in Avalon offers the reward of beautiful views

With its quaint streets, charming waterfront and dramatic vistas, Avalon is the perfect place to take a walk. Whether you are looking for a casual stroll or a steep incline to get your heart pumping, walking in Avalon has it all. One of our favorite walks offers both options.

Pebbly Beach Road is a natural place for a long walk. Stretching along the shoreline, Pebbly Beach Road starts at the corner of Crescent Avenue and then continues alongside Lover’s Cove. Passing Abalone Point, Pebbly Beach Road parallels the shoreline, offering the spectacular views of the Pacific and – when it’s clear – the mainland. About a mile past Abalone Point, walkers will find Pebbly Beach, home to Catalina’s heliport, a restaurant, boatyard, freight terminal and commercial laundry as well as its electrical generating station, waste water treatment plant and landfill.

For those looking for a casual stroll, turning around and returning back along the waterfront provides another chance to enjoy the susurrus of the sea and the chance to spot marine mammals frolicking just off shore. A more challenging return to town can be had by taking a hard right just past the Southern California Edison’s Pebbly Beach Generating Station. This will lead to Wrigley Road and a relatively steep incline up and over Mt. Ada. While the walk back is challenging, the rewards are spectacular views of Avalon, the Pacific Ocean and the mainland.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Medical Center

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Catalina Island Medical Center is located on Falls Canyon Road

Catalina Island Medical Center is located on Falls Canyon Road

With about 4,000 year round residents, Catalina Island is not only one of the top Southern California vacation destinations, it’s also a vibrant community filled with children and parents, teachers and students, employees and bosses. Like any community, Catalina has a school, churches and a hospital. Now known as Catalina Island Medical Center, Avalon’s hospital was built in 1960 to serve the needs of the island’s residents and visitors – a job it continues to do to this day.

CIMC employs three full-time physicians, who see patients in its doctors’ offices as well as in the hospital. The 12-bed hospital has a laboratory, radiology department, emergency room and physical therapy department as well as a in-patient care for the island’s skilled nursing patients. Routine medical care is handled Monday through Friday at the Medical Group Office, while the emergency department in the hospital is staffed 24 hours a day. While more severe trauma cases are flown to the mainland via specially equipped helicopter, the vast majority of cases can be addressed on the island. Catalina Island Medical Center sees several thousand patient visits and more than 1200 emergency room visits a year.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Conservancy Ball

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The Catalina Island Conservancy Ball will help support efforts to the protect the Catalina Island fox. Photo by Jack Baldelli, Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

The Catalina Island Conservancy Ball will help support efforts to the protect the Catalina Island fox. Photo by Jack Baldelli, Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Catalina Island’s unspoiled natural beauty has intrigued generations – and thanks to the Catalina Conservancy, it will continue to offer a respite from the unbridled development on the mainland. Charged with preserving the island in its natural state in perpetuity, the Catalina Conservancy is responsible for nearly 90 percent of the island.

Supported by grants and donations, the non-profit Conservancy is also the beneficiary of the one of the most elegant events on the island. Each year, the Catalina Conservancy Ball fills the Casino Ballroom with tuxedoes and ball gowns for a gala event that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year marks the 20th Catalina Conservancy Ball and organizers are celebrating with an emerald theme and a tagline of Leaping Lizards.

With more than $4.5 million raised over the last two decades, the Conservancy Ball is one of the organization’s most important events. The first ball was co-hosted by the Corsair Yacht Club, and this year the club will reprise its role. The evening will include dinner and dancing as well as a silent and live auction. The fun begins at 6 p.m. on April 11. Invitations may be requested here.

CIVR Blog: How big is Catalina Island

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Catalina Island's coastline stretches over 54 miles.

Catalina Island’s coastline stretches over 54 miles.

“How big is Santa Catalina Island?” is one of the most common questions asked by visitors. How to answer the question depends on just what parameters you want to measure.

One of the easiest answers is length. Catalina stretches about 22 miles from the East End, past Avalon, to Land’s End, on the island’s rugged West End. Width is a harder question to answer. At Two Harbors, Catalina narrows to its narrowest point — the Isthmus is just about half a mile wide. On the other extreme is Long Point, where about eight miles separate the windward side from the leeward side.

Catalina’s coastline is about 54 miles and offers everything from gentle sand beaches and secluded bays to dramatic cliffs and imposing pinnacles.

With steep valleys and sheer cliffs as well as gentle meadows and compelling flora, Catalina Island’s interior is a fascinating expanse wilderness that stretches across about 75 square miles. As any hiker, mountain biker or marathoner knows, those 75 square miles are far from flat. The island has dramatic elevation changes and Mt. Orizaba, the island’s highest point, reaches 2,097 feet above sea level.

However you measure it, Catalina Island is big enough to explore for a lifetime.

CIVR Blog: Catalina off season

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Visitors to Catalina Island in the off-season discover a unique destination

Visitors to Catalina Island in the off-season discover a unique destination

When the Banning Brothers first began developing Catalina Island as a tourist destination back in the early 19th century, Avalon was seen as a seasonal destination. For generations, visiting Catalina was something that was only done in the summer months. From Labor Day until Memorial Day, the island’s visitor services were minimal – the joke was that “would the last person to leave the island after Labor Day please turn off the lights?” Restaurants closed their doors, busses stopped running and tour boats were hauled from the water.

These days, visiting the island is something that happens 12 months of the year. Hours may change, but restaurants stay open nearly year-round and – while not every activity is available as readily in February as it is in July – there’s still plenty to do 365 days of the year.

What most off-season visitors discover is that discovering Catalina off season gives them an entirely new perspective on this Southern California destination. While they may trade expansive hours, what they get in return is hillsides greened by rain, uncrowded activities and a destination that welcomes them with enthusiasm. Thanks to Southern California’s normally mild temperatures, they can also expect mild winters and sunny skies.

CIVR Blog: Wrigley Botanic Garden

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Exploring at the Wrigley Botanic Garden

Exploring at the Wrigley Botanic Garden

Thanks to the 20 or so miles separately Catalina Island from the rest of Southern California, flora and fauna have had a chance to evolve separately, creating unique species found nowhere else on earth. One of the most charismatic of these island natives is the Catalina Island fox, a diminutive cousin to grey foxes that is a subspecies found only on Santa Catalina.

While the Catalina Island fox may steal the spotlight, Catalina is also home to a number of additional endemic species. Catalina Island Mountain Mahogany, Catalina Ironwood and St. Catherine’s Lace are just a few of the plant species found nowhere else on earth.

One of the best places to learn more about Catalina’s native plant life is at the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, located at the top of Avalon Canyon Road. A 30-minute walk from town, the garden is a 37-acre showcase of California island endemic plants, as well as succulents and other desert plants. The garden was originally planted at the direction of Ada Wrigley, wife of William Wrigley, Jr. She had desert plants brought from around the world to create the original garden in 1935. More than 30 years later, the garden was revitalized and expanded and plants from all of the Channel Islands were planted.

The garden is open daily and can be reached by trolley, golf cart or on foot.

CIVR Blog: Get to know Kevin Pool

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Kevin Pool, maintenance technician

Kevin Pool, maintenance technician

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals is not just the Avalon homes and cottages, Hamilton Cove Villas, Two Harbors Casas and Avalon condos that it represents, it’s also the dedicated staff that loves the island and loves making Catalina vacation dreams a reality. Today’s post is part of an on-going series introducing our CIVR family to you.

Kevin Pool, Catalina Island Vacation Rentals maintenance technician, has lived on Catalina Island his entire life, minus a few years after high school to attend college on the mainland. He loves the island and feels it takes a special kind of person to live here year around.

Kevin’s favorite thing about the island is the backside – he feels the preserved wildlife and land that the island offers is amazing. “There are miles to explore, beautiful places to camp and lots of gorgeous sunsets out on the backside of the island,” he said. “I think all visitors need to visit the backside on some kind of tour to see what Mother Nature has to offer when its untouched.”

Kevin has also been impressed with the improvements in Avalon. “It’s been bringing in a lot more visitors to the island,” he said, “which has been keeping me busy.” That’s just how he likes it.

Responsible for resolving any issue that may arise during a guest’s stay, Kevin loves meeting visitors and helping them have a great stay.

 

CIVR Blog: Catalina Marathon

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Catalina's terrain challenges runners

Catalina’s terrain challenges runners

Catalina Island has become a world-class destination for long-distance athletes. With rugged terrain and spectacular vistas, the island is a perfect alternative to city-based marathons across flat, asphalt –finished roads. Spanning the traditional marathon length of 26 miles, the Catalina Marathon begins in Two Harbors and traverses the island – taking athletes across dirt roads and along hiking trails; rewarding them with awe-inspiring views and bringing them face to face with compelling wildlife like American bison and bald eagles.

As part of Spectrum Sports Management’s array of athletic events, the Catalina Marathon benefits from the company’s broad base of race management experience. The race benefits the Catalina Island Conservancy, the non-profit organization responsible for preserving the island in perpetuity.

This year’s Catalina Island Marathon is scheduled for Saturday March 14. Marathoners will begin in Two Harbors and finish in Avalon. For those looking to cheer the runners through the streets as they finish, the first runners will complete the race less than three hours after the start. Athletes looking to take on the challenge of Catalina Island but who are perhaps not quite ready for the dramatic distance and challenging elevation changes of the Catalina Marathon; may want to take on the Catalina 10K and 5K, both held the same day in and around Avalon. Kids can also take on the Kids 5K.

CIVR Blog: Catalina fitness

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Hiking is just one of many ways to stay in shape on the island

Hiking is just one of many ways to stay in shape on the island

Staying in shape while on vacation can sometimes be a challenge. New restaurants invite culinary indulgence, signature cocktails tempt with extra calories and comfortable accommodations welcome sleeping in rather than getting up and getting moving.

Staying in shape on Catalina Island, however, can be both mentally and physically rewarding. The Island offers a range of physical activities to challenge your body and relax your mind. Swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddling are just a few of the physical exertions that can happen in Avalon’s peaceful waters. Volleyball and basketball are two sports that are readily available in Avalon. Pick-up games are almost always happening at the courts on Pebbly Beach Road. The Catalina Visitors Golf Course offers a nine-hole executive course in Avalon Canyon. Santa Catalina’s rugged terrain rewards athletes with spectacular vistas and unspoiled natural beauty. Jogging, hiking and mountain biking are all great ways to stay in shape while experiencing the island’s wildlands.

While Catalina Island doesn’t have a traditional gym or fitness center, there are a number of trainers and instructors who offer fitness classes on the island. Spinning, yoga, Pilates and body sculpting are all available several times a day and nearly every day of the week.