CIVR Blog: Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island

4:46 pm
Avalon Harbor's clear waters attract humans and marine species alike

Avalon Harbor’s clear waters attract humans and marine species alike

With its crystal clear waters, gently lapping shore and peacefully bobbing boats, Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island is a magnet for sightseers and adventurers alike. From dinghies to megayachts, in the summer, nearly every vessel imaginable can be found in the harbor. Also floating atop are kayaks and paddleboards as well as rowboats and pedal boats. Swimmers and waders take the plunge, finding Avalon Harbor’s waters irresistible. Generations of kids have laid claim to the swim float off South Beach and, this year, water polo is a new attraction.

Beneath the surface, Catalina Island’s most popular harbor is home to a wide variety of marine species. Nearly everyone sees the distinctive orange garibaldi that are almost always visible near the boat terminal, but dozens of other species can be found as well. Bat rays, thornback rays and guitarfish can been seen in the shallows. Kelp bass, opaleye and sheepshead hang out beneath the pier. And octopus and spider crabs forage on the harbor’s sandy bottom. Attracted by the bounty, sea lions hunt the midwater, periodically popping up to announce their presence with raucous barks.

This confluence of humans and nature invites discovery, just one more reason to take the plunge and experience all that Avalon Harbor has to offer.

CIVR Blog: Santa Catalina icon

1:12 pm
Packy Offield's influence on Catalina Island is immeasurable.

Packy Offield’s influence on Catalina Island is immeasurable.

Over the last century, several individuals have forged an enduring impact on Santa Catalina Island. William, Joseph & Hancock Banning. William Wrigley, Jr. Malcolm Renton. PK Wrigley. Another man whose impact on the island will last for generations is Paxson “Packy” Offield. For decades, Packy’s influence and love of the island permeated not only the Santa Catalina Island Company and the Catalina Island Conservancy, but also the very fabric of the island community itself. With a generous spirit and faith in others, Packy led both SCICo and the Conservancy through three decades.

Packy’s great grandfather was William Wrigley, Jr., so his love of the island was part of his genes. While he quietly and generously supported dozens of island organizations and initiatives, he also supported international conservation organizations, including the Peregrine Fund, the International Gamefish Association and the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. The ocean, particularly billfish, was his passion and thanks to his generosity and dedication our understanding of these ocean denizens is much greater.

After a valiant battle with leukemia, Packy passed away on June 14. His impact on the natural world, Santa Catalina Island and those who knew and loved him will be eternal.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island summer naturalist

6:25 pm
Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Each summer, Catalina Island offers a wealth of opportunities to explore. Warm waters beckon, restaurants offer tempting menus and Avalon’s beaches provide endless opportunities for fun. Summer also offers a great chance to learn more about everyone’s favorite island with the Catalina Island Conservancy’s popular summer naturalist program.

Responsible for protecting Santa Catalina in perpetuity, the Catalina Island Conservancy’s mission also includes recreation and education. They combine the two each Tuesday and Saturday for a naturalist-led Garden to the Sky hike, which takes hikers from the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden up to the ridge line that saddles the island and provides spectacular views of the windward side of the island. The hikes leave at 10:30 a.m. and are free for Conservancy members. Non-member hikers will pay $12 for adults and $8 for kids.

Island fans who are not up for hikes can also learn more about the native flora and fauna at the free tours of the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, which are held every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.  Originally developed by Ada Wrigley, the garden’s 35 acres include plants from all of Southern California’s Channel Islands as well as succulents from around the world.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Museum

4:45 pm
The Catalina Island Museum is currently located in the Casino Building.

The Catalina Island Museum is currently located in the Casino Building.

One of Catalina Island’s most ambitious construction projects has recently entered its final phase. The Catalina Island Museum is currently building a new facility on Metropole Avenue, one of the largest construction projects in the island’s history. The Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building will include expansive exhibit and event space and is on track to open to the public later this year.

With Spanish tiles, colonnades and white stucco, the building is designed to fit in with some of the island’s most iconic architecture. Museum staff take the island’s needs seriously during construction, barging containers of water to the island to meet to the construction’s needs. With state-of-the-art exhibit space, a 100-seat amphitheater and a range of galleries for both permanent and visiting exhibits, the new museum is designed to meet to communities needs for generations to come.

Currently, the Catalina Island Museum operates in a small space located in the bottom floor of the Casino Building. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors. Children under 15 are free. Visitors and residents who would like to support the museum and its efforts to preserve Catalina Island’s fascinating history can become members; memberships are available starting at $45 per year and include free admission.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island volunteers

4:52 pm
Removing non-native plants is a key element in preserving the island's native ecology

Removing non-native plants is a key element in preserving the island’s native ecology

Catalina Island has intrigued generations of travelers. Unique wildlife, breath-taking natural beauty and an unspoiled wilderness found nowhere else make the island a destination that resonates, calling vacationers back again and again. While Avalon’s quaint charms and Two Harbors remote attraction provide plenty of temptations for travelers, for many people it’s the interior of the island that truly calls to them.

Thanks to the Catalina Island Conservancy and the vision of the Wrigley family, nearly 90 percent of the island is protected in perpetuity from development. Santa Catalina’s remote canyons, windswept promontories and native flora and fauna will never face the urban sprawl that characterizes the mainland. This non-profit organization was founded in 1972 and continues in its mission today, thanks to the generosity of its founders and others who love the island.

One of the best ways to learn more about the Catalina Island Conservancy and its role on the island is by volunteering. Regular opportunities include Thursdays at the Nursery and the monthly Windward Beaches Cleanup. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals has also worked with the Catalina Island Conservancy to develop Volunteer Vacations, giving travelers an even more in-depth way to give back and make their time on Catalina Island make a difference.

Volunteer Vacation Information

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Fourth of July

2:04 pm

4th of July in Avalon

Fourth of July on Catalina Island is a family tradition for thousands. With a Fourth of July parade featuring festively decorated golf carts and a fireworks over Avalon Harbor, the small town charm of Avalon seems ideally suited for America’s most patriotic celebration.

Each year, thanks to the dedicated fundraising of alumni and other supporters, including the Avalon Rotary Club, the highlight of the Fourth of July Parade is the University of Southern California Marching Band in full regalia. The parade also features floats and golf carts festooned with bunting, streamers and every variation of the Red, White and Blue imaginable. After the parade, the USC Marching Band will head to the Casino Building for a special concert to accompany a barbecue dinner. The night’s culmination will be one of the most memorable fireworks shows imaginable. Although other fireworks extravaganzas may have more pyrotechnics, there’s no way to beat sitting on the beach, watching the fireworks reflected in Avalon Harbor while listening to their explosions echo up Avalon Canyon.

Avalon isn’t the only Catalina Island Fourth of July celebration. Two Harbors, at the island’s remote West End, also gets in the patriotic festivities. Two Harbors Fourth of July activities include a children’s festival, dinghy parade and fireworks on Saturday, July 5.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island family reunion

2:01 pm
Photos courtesy of Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce

Photos courtesy of Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce

Reconnecting with family is one of the many benefits of a vacation – and a Catalina Island family reunion can be an ideal way to reconnect with your entire family.

With its convenient location and world-wide reputation as a vacation hotspot, Santa Catalina is a destination that will inspire family members from around the country. Surrounded by natural beauty and infused with the small town charm of Avalon, Catalina Island intrigues all ages as the perfect place to get away from it all.

Catalina Island restaurants range from burger stands to fine cuisine and offer something for every palate, whether you are looking for a quick bite with the kids or a spot for a decadent dinner re-connecting with long-lost cousins. Activities on Catalina Island also offer something for everyone, from scuba diving to glass bottom boat rides and parasailing to culinary walking tours.

An ideal option for accommodations for your Catalina Island family reunion is vacation rentals. With full kitchens and homes that sleep up to 10, renting an Avalon home, condo or a Hamilton Cove villa provides a cost effective, convenient way to stay. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals reservation staff are happy to help determine the perfect option for you and your family.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island snorkeling

2:41 pm
Kelpbass are just one of many resident fishes in Lovers Cove. Photo courtesy Catalina Divers Supply

Kelpbass are just one of many resident fishes in Lovers Cove. Photo courtesy Catalina Divers Supply

Catalina Island takes a lifetime to explore — living and working here full-time provides an opportunity to discover many of the island’s secrets.

Lovers Cove is one of Catalina Island’s most intriguing spots. For more than a century, Catalina Island visitors have been exploring its undersea gardens, thanks to the innovation of replacing the bottom of a boat with a pane of glass. The original glass bottom boats were simply modified rowboats, but these days, in addition to glass bottom boats, Lovers Cove is also home to semi-submersibles complete with air conditioning and fish feeders. Those vessels are a great way to see under the sea while staying dry, but the secret to Lovers Cove is getting wet.

Catalina Island snorkeling is as easy as swimming. With protected waters and abundant marine life, snorkeling on Catalina is one of our favorite activities. Several guided snorkeling tours are available, or you can rent or bring your gear and take the plunge on your own. Generations of fishes have learned that humans are a great source of food and snorkelers will be quickly surrounded by dozens of hungry garibaldi, opaleye and calico bass. Their favorite food? Frozen peas – just be sure and take any trash out of the cove.

CIVR Blog: Special Catalina Island memories

3:11 pm
Undersea Expedition

Undersea Expedition

Visiting Santa Catalina Island is a memorable experience no matter how many times you’ve been here. With its crystal clear waters teeming with marine life, dramatic hillsides just waiting to be explored and the quaint town of Avalon, Catalina vacations are an ideal way to get away.

For some Catalina Island visitors, however, a trip to Santa Catalina is much more than just a vacation. For the last 25 years, Sunshine Kids have been bringing children battling cancer to the island. This national organization arranges day-trips and overnights around the country and Catalina Island is a favorite for kids in Southern California. Thanks to donations from local businesses, including Catalina Island Vacation Rentals and Catalina Island Real Estate, the trips and the activities are provided free of charge for the participants. Kayaking, zipling and the Undersea  Tour are just some of the many activities that Sunshine Kids is able to share.  The children taking part in the trips travel with a representative from Sunshine Kids as well as medical providers to ensure their comfort during their time on Catalina Island. All of the participating children are receiving cancer treatment in hospitals around the country.


CIVR Blog: #WhateverUSA Catalina

7:34 am

#Upforwhatever Catalina Island Contest winners have barely made their way back home and many are already calling Bud Light’s weekend-long island party “the best weekend ever.” Many Catalina residents would have to agree.

Catalina Island was chosen from cities around the country to become the beer company’s latest #WhateverUSA location. With an air of whimsy and spontaneous fun, the event brought a level of frolic to Avalon not seen before. Pottery classes on the beach, street performers and yoga on the sand were just a few of the many #Upforwhatever activities. A Great Gatsby themed party at the Catalina Casino was a highlight, as was a performance by Snoop Dog, who arrived at Wrigley Stage on a hot dog cart.

While the fun and frolic at #UpForWhatever has been widely lauded as being on an epic scale, Bud Light and its management team are also receiving kudos for their organizational skills. Although beer was the reason for the promotion, drunkenness was discouraged , trash was quickly picked up and the participants were respectful and appreciative.

#WhateverUSA Catalina will continue to have an impact on the island long after the fun is gone. Joe Machado Field, Avalon’s most popular sports field, will receive a $500,000 renovation thanks to Anheuser Busch, Bud Light’s parent company. Perhaps even more importantly, video and photographs of the party and Catalina Island will continue to be used to promote Bud Light around the country.