CIVR Blog: Chamber promotes Catalina

Photo Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce

Photo Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce

Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce promotes the island

Part of running business nearly anywhere in the world is joining together with other local businesses in a chamber of commerce. Networking, lobbying and mutual promotion are just some of the many benefits that business owners find when they come together in an organization that works together.

While parasailing charter boats, kayak tour guides and backcountry hiking operators may be unique to Catalina Island, the benefits of a chamber of commerce are universal and Catalina Island is no different. The Catalina Island hosts monthly chamber mixers and works to better the business environment on the island. While Catalina Island’s chamber of commerce supports local businesses as a traditional chamber, it also has a much more extensive role as Catalina Island’s primary tourism promoter. As the Catalina Island Visitors Bureau, the chamber hosts an award-winning website, publishes a colorful and compelling Visitors Guide and is open to assist Catalina Island visitors seven days a week from its office on the green Pleasure Pier. The chamber also offers an extensive calendar of events, prints a visitors’ map and represents Catalina Island at trade shows.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals and Catalina Island Real Estate are among hundreds of businesses that support the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce through membership, donations and volunteer hours.

CIVR Blog: Moray eels



That’s a moray! Eels are a fascinating part of the Catalina marine ecosystem

Catalina’s marine environment is home to a wide variety of marine life. Bright, colorful fish and playful marine mammals are part of that variety, but there are also creatures that humans find a bit more ominous.

Moray eels are one such creature. This long snake-like fish lacks traditional gills and must keep their mouths open to breathe, which, combined with their fang-like teeth, gives them a menacing appearance. Moray eels are relatively common in local waters; during the day, snorkelers and Catalina Island scuba divers frequently spot them peering out from the rock crevices they call home. At night, these intimidating predators emerge from their lairs in search of prey, which includes small fish, crustaceans and octopii. Adult morays can grow up to five feet long and their sinuous profiles can be spotted hunting Catalina’s near shore waters on the night trips aboard the island’s semisubmersibles and glass bottom boats as well as during night dives.

While these fascinating hunters do not regularly pose a risk to humans, they will not hesitate to defend their homes – keeping hands and arms out of rocky crevices while underwater is definitely a good idea.

CIVR Blog: Rotary Club of Avalon


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: Chaplin & Goddard Museum Exhibit


The Catalina Island Museum is home to cornucopia of historical artifacts. Native soap stone bowls. Valuable Catalina pottery. And a photography collection that chronicles more than a century of island life.

For much of the first half of the last century, Catalina life frequently featured Hollywood celebrities working and playing on Santa Catalina Island. Hollywood icon Charlie Chaplin – along with many other early film icons – spent countless hours walking Avalon’s streets, enjoying its vistas and challenging its adventures. In the 1930s, Chaplin began a tumultuous love affair with aspiring actress Paulette Goddard. The two spent eight years together, often enjoying a rendezvous on Catalina Island.

Beginning on April 16, the Catalina Island Museum will unveil its latest exhibition, Chaplin and Goddard: A Secret Love Affair. An Opening Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. will be held at the museum, which is located on the lower level of the Catalina Island Casino Building. The event is free for museum members and $5 for the general public.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals and its sister company, Catalina Island Real Estate, are long-time museum supporters and are silver sponsors of this exciting new exhibition.

CIVR Blog: Art in the spring

Crescent Avenue will be home to dozens of artists for the CAFE art show

Crescent Avenue will be home to dozens of artists for the CAFE art show

CAFE art show offers spring time art

For more than five decades, Catalina Island has been home to the Catalina Festival of the Arts. This popular art show fills Crescent Avenue with artists from around the region. Glass, oil, photography, watercolors and a palette of other media are represented and it’s a do-not-miss experience for art aficionados and fans of Catalina Island. This year’s Catalina Festival of the Arts will be held September 19 to 21 and it is nearly always a sellout weekend, so advance accommodations reservations are a necessity.

Art fans who are looking for another reason to escape to Catalina Island can thank the organizers of the art festival, the Catalina Island Art Association, for bringing back the Catalina Art Fair and Exhibition five years ago. The CAFÉ show will take over Crescent Avenue with arts and artisans over Easter weekend, April 18 to 20. The show will open with an artists’ reception and booths will be open for the show and sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Live music will frequently provide a backdrop for perusing paintings, photography, jewelry and crafts from local and regional artists.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Women’s Forum

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


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

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

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

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.