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 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 #UpForWhatever

2:54 pm
Catalina Island is #UpForWhatever

Catalina Island is #UpForWhatever

Catalina Island is always a fun place to spend a weekend, but this weekend the fun was taken to a whole new level, thanks to Bud Light and its #UpForWhatever promotion. The beer company transformed parts of Avalon into a festival of frolic and fun, including world-class concerts, off-the-wall activities and unique experiences. The party was open to 1,000 #WhateverUSA Catalina Island contest winners as well as local residents and property owners.  With purple parades, restaurants transformed into Moroccan lounges, light shows and an atmosphere of anything can happen, #UpForWhatever is likely to be remembered for years to come as a weekend of epic fun. Even the Casino Building was brought into the fun, with a deep blue lights shining on its storied walls.

Lauded by participants and locals alike for both its fun factor and organization, #WhateverUSA means much more to the island that just a weekend of fun and whimsy. #UpForWhatever Catalina Island will be used to promote Bud Light – and the island – over the next year. Last year’s #WhateverUSA location, Crested Butte, Colorado, was featured in a Super Bowl commercial, as well as promotional materials throughout the country. Catalina Island supporters hope the island will receive similar exposure.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island walks

9:44 pm
Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Catalina Island abounds with secrets — Secret spots, secret history and secret stories. In our latest series of blog posts, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite Catalina Island secrets.

Walking in Avalon is the perfect mode of transportation. While many visitors are intrigued with the fun and convenience of our ubiquitous golf carts, leaving the wheels parked and getting going with your own two feet is the ideal way to experience this quaint Catalina Island town. Walking’s slower pace and quiet atmosphere provide a chance to experience more of Avalon’s charms.

Whether it is walking to town from Hamilton Cove, strolling along the Avalon waterfront or taking on a challenging hike on the Trans-Catalina Trail, walking is the secret key to Catalina Island transportation. Everyone who lives on the island has their own favorite Catalina Island walk, but one of our favorites is the walk from town up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. This casual stroll takes you up Avalon Canyon along the Catalina Island Visitors Golf Course. The walk lasts just over a mile from Avalon and culminates at the garden, where visitors can learn more about the island’s native flora.

CIVR Blog: Certificate of Excellence Award

8:51 am

certificate of excellent - tripadvisor

Living and working on Catalina Island is privilege that none of us take for granted. Surrounded by the sea and shaded by Santa Catalina’s stunning hillsides, we’re enveloped by natural beauty in a way that no one else on earth is. Avalon’s quaint streets and scenic waterfront are part of our everyday life and the many activities on Catalina are something we get to enjoy every day.

Working at Catalina Island Vacation Rentals provides its own series of benefits. Every day, we get to make vacation dreams come true. Our guests arrive excited and eager and go home relaxed and refreshed, renewed by a Southern California island paradise. We love hearing about how much fun they’ve had and how much we were able to help them.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of those guests, the Hamilton Cove Villas on Catalina Island that we manage have recently been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. As the world’s leading hotel review site, millions of people around the world rely on TripAdvisor for vacation travel advice. While we’re proud of this award, we’re even more proud of the experiences that inspired the reviews. Knowing that we’ve been a part of creating wonderful vacation memories makes our jobs even more rewarding.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Summer Activities

2:05 pm


Summer is just around the corner on Catalina Island and that means a return of some of our favorite family activities. While the Summer Concert Series is a widely popular new addition to the summer calendar, summer in Avalon brings several more activities that are fun for everyone.

Each Wednesday beginning June 24, the City of Avalon Recreation Department hosts a Kids Fishing Derby. With awards and accolades for biggest fish and strangest fish, this tournament is all about having fun and getting the kids excited about the outdoors. The fishing starts at 7 a.m. at the end of green Pleasure Pier. Call (310) 510-1987 for details.

The City of Avalon is also responsible for one of Catalina Island’s most enduring – and endearing – family fun traditions. Each Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. the city hosts Beach Bingo at the South Beach lifeguard stand. Bingo cards are only $1 and winners receive some great local prizes.

As the organization responsible for protecting nearly 90 percent of Catalina Island, the Catalina Island Conservancy has some interesting stories to tell. Learn more about the island the efforts needed to protect its unique ecosystem at one of the Conservancy’s guided hikes, only available in the summer.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island secrets

2:35 pm
Catalina Island played a strategic role during World War II

Catalina Island played a strategic role during World War II

Catalina Island abounds with secrets. Secret spots , secret history and secret stories. In our latest series of blog posts, we’ll share some of our favorite Catalina Island secrets.

Catalina Island played a pivotal role in World War II and much of that history can still be found scattered around this Southern California Channel Island. A wide variety of personnel trained and prepared on Santa Catalina, including Merchant Marines, Army soldiers and frogmen from the Office of Strategic Services, which would become the Central Intelligence Agency.

With its strategic location off the California coast, Catalina Island served as a prime spot for surveillance and gunnery emplacements were established on several key promontories. For several years, these emplacements were manned with soldiers who spent countless lonely hours watching the Pacific for a Japanese naval incursion and the skies for an attack by air.

While the heavy guns and soldiers are long-gone, the emplacements remain, concrete bunkers that stand in mute testament to the greatest generation. The most accessible of the bunkers is far off Catalina Island’s beaten path, but intrepid hikers will discover this secret spot on the promontory between Cottonwood Cove and Ben Weston Beach. The two large underground bunkers occupy prime real estate, with the windswept cliff commanding endless views of the Pacific.