CIVR Blog: Catalina Summer Activities

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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

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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.

CIVR Blog: Catalina wine festival

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The beach at the isthmus will soon be filled with wine fans.

The beach at the isthmus will soon be filled with wine fans.

For 14 years, June has been wine time at the island’s West End. The Summer Wine Festival in Two Harbors brings together dozens of wineries as well as live music and complimentary appetizers. With sand beneath your feet, the Catalina wine festival is arguably the most atmospheric wine event in the state, taking place on Isthmus Beach on Saturday June 6. Tickets are limited at this popular event, reservations are essential.

The festival also includes a silent and live auction and is a fundraiser for the Avalon Rotary, one of Catalina Island’s most active service organizations. Each year, the Avalon Rotary raises tens of thousands of dollars, supporting a variety of local projects and programs both on Catalina and as part of Rotary International’s nationwide programs.

Catalina’s remote West End is an ideal destination for a getaway anytime of the year. With an off-the-beaten path atmosphere unparalleled in Southern California, Two Harbors offers great hiking, exciting adventures and dramatic natural beauty. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals offers the only vacation rental properties in Two Harbors. Casa Santa Cruz and Casa Santa Rosa offer all the comforts of home combined with spectacular ocean views and the unique surroundings of the island’s West End.

CIVR Blog: Top 3 Things To Do

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THe Catalina zipline is one of the hop things to do for adventure seekers

The Catalina zipline is one of the hop things to do for adventure seekers

Catalina Island abounds with things to do for all ages and interests, from leisurely afternoons on the beach to adrenaline-fueled adventures sure to thrill. With its dramatic natural beauty and proximity to the Pacific, activities around Santa Catalina can fill a lifetime of Island vacations. Our top three Catalina Island things to do for adventure seekers provide a peek at some of the many exciting activities available on the island.

The Catalina Island zipline has become a must-do for adventure seekers. With five zips stretching down Descanso Canyon, this high-octane thrill ride reaches speeds in excess of 45 miles per hour. The recent addition of night-times zips adds a whole new level of excitement.

Catalina Island scuba diving is world renowned. Sunlight dappled kelp forests, wrecks and an fascinating array of marine life provide the perfect backdrop for this adventure, which is available to anyone who can swim through Discover Scuba experiences.

The Trans-Catalina Trail is the pinnacle of Catalina Island hiking. With challenging elevation changes and breath-taking views, the trail can be experienced in short day hikes spread over several Catalina vacations or in a multi-day hiking expedition that will test even the most seasoned hiker.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Soccer Camp

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Avalon will be home to a soccer camp hosted by the LA Galaxy

Avalon will be home to a soccer camp hosted by the LA Galaxy

Soccer has become one of the most popular youth sports in America. Every weekend, leagues from coast to coast converge on playing fields as boys and girls learn sportsmanship, teamwork and perseverance while having a great time playing the world’s most popular sport.

Thanks to all those kids playing soccer, soccer camps have also exploded in popularity and Catalina Island is no exception. This year representatives from the LA Galaxy, Southern California’s Major League Soccer team, will be visiting the island to host a Catalina Island soccer camp May 8-10. Kids will learn new skills, improve techniques and have a good time for three hours a day over three days. Cost is $150 and the camp is open to boys and girls from ages six to 18.

Got a soccer fan in your household? Catalina Island Vacation Rentals is the perfect place to stay while your future Beckham builds his or her skills. Ideal for families, our Avalon Condos, Hamilton Cove villas  and Avalon homes and cottages provide all the comforts of home including full kitchens, living areas and the space to relax and enjoy your Catalina Island vacation.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island dining

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Restaurant week returns to Avalon on Catalina Island

Restaurant week returns to Avalon on Catalina Island

Catalina Island restaurants offer a buffet of options for hungry Avalon visitors. Whether you are looking for culinary creativity or quick bites – Catalina Island dining has it all, including burgers, fresh seafood, great steaks and much more. Once a year, Santa Catalina visitors have a convenient way to experience nearly all the dining in Avalon.

This year, two Catalina Island dining events will be combined into one week of culinary fun. On Wednesday, May 13, the 11th Annual Taste Around Avalon will kick off the Third Annual Avalon Restaurant Week. During the Taste Around, visitors can try a bite or two at more than a dozen local eateries and vote for their favorites. Nearly all of the participating restaurants will also offer libations –of either the alcoholic or non-alcoholic variety — for voting as well. Voting cards will be available from Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce prior to the event, which takes place from 5 to 9 p.m.

Avalon Restaurant Week gives visitors several days to sample Catalina dining options. Nearly a dozen participants will offer prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus that often include several courses and some special selections. Reservations are appreciated, especially on the weekends.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Chimes Tower

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Chimes Tower will have a new lease on life.

Chimes Tower will have a new lease on life.

Catalina Island is home to a number of iconic buildings and one of the most melodic is getting a new lease on life. Whether you’ve seen it up close and personal or not, every visitor to Avalon has heard the Catalina Chimes Tower, which tolls the hour and plays every 15 minutes. On special occasions, the iconic peals are supplemented by the artistry of Islander Jani Eisenhut, who plays special tunes on the historic Deagan Westminster Chimes.

A gift to the city of Avalon from Ada Wrigley, the wife of William Wrigley, Jr. the chimes have tolled since 1925 and are still in solid working order. The tile-roofed building that houses them, however, is in need of extensive renovations. Thanks to Ada’s descendants, a new foundation has been formed to do just that. The Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation is 501(3)c charged with repairing and maintaining the tower. Matching donations up to $100,000 will help ensure the foundation has a solid start on its fund-raising.

Residents and visitors alike are invited to help the new foundation in its mission. Tax deductible contributions may be sent to The Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation at P.O. Box 677, Avalon, CA 90704. For questions and comments please email info@catalinachimes.org.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island summer camp

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Catalina Island Marine Institute is one of many Catalina Island summer camps on the leeward side of the island.


For millions of kids, going to summer camp is a rite of passage. With a week or two – or three – away from parents and everyday life, summer camp is a chance to learn new things, have new responsibilities and grow up just a little. Santa Catalina Island has been home to a number of summer camps for decades. Whether kids are looking for a religious-based camp, a science-based camp or just a fun-based camp, they can find it on the island.

Several different organizations operate a number of Catalina Island summer camp facilities in many of the coves on the leeward side of the island. These camps take advantage of Catalina Island’s spectacular natural beauty and dramatic coastline to offer a wide range of activities, including hiking, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, archery and much more. Some camps also offer specialized instruction and activities, such as scuba diving and rock climbing.

With the kids off at Catalina Island summer camp, parents can look forward to a getaway all their own. Avalon, with its spas, dining and shopping, offers a perfect option for those who want to be close – but not too close – to their summer campers. Parents can also easily transform a romantic getaway for two into a family vacation by spending an additional week on the island once camp concludes. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals offers an array of choices, from exclusive Hamilton Cove condos, to quaint Avalon homes and cottages and unique Avalon condos.

CIVR Blog: Volunteering on Catalina Island

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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, volunteers learn more about efforts to preserve native plants during Mornings at the Nursery.

Catalina Island offers a wealth of experiences and adventures that take a lifetime to completely explore. While Avalon’s quaint charms, intriguing shops and picturesque waterfront appeal to nearly every traveler, the interior of the island offers a wellspring of natural beauty, including spectacular seascapes, dramatic terrain and flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.

Seeing the interior of the island should be part of every Catalina Island vacation, but many island visitors never explore beyond the tiny town of Avalon, California. Several tours take visitors to the interior – ranging from bus tours to high-adventure off-road expeditions. Guided hiking trips, kayaking adventures and more are also available.

One great way to see the interior and help preserve Catalina Island at the same time is by joining the Catalina Island Conservancy on one of their volunteer expeditions. Every Thursday, Mornings at the Nursery offers transportation to the interior and the chance to learn more about Catalina Island’s unique flora. The trip leaves at 7:15 am and volunteers spend several hours at the James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery before returning to Avalon around noon. Advance notice is necessary, call the Conservancy at (310) 510-2595, ext. 12.

CIVR Blog: Avalon Rubber Ducky Derby

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Photo credit: http://shire2011.blogspot.com

Photo credit: http://shire2011.blogspot.com

Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island is home to a wide array of creatures. Bat rays and spider crabs hunt the bottom; calico bass and opal eye cruise placidly and schools of bait fish occasionally churn the water. Gulls bob at the surface, greedy for a tossed French fry, while sea lions frolic and forage. Catalina Island’s human residents and visitors have their own impact, with vessels large and small plying the harbor and children and adults alike playing on the beach.

While most of the sights in Avalon Harbor are an everyday occurrence, once a year a unique flock of invaders takes over the harbor. On Sunday, April 12, hundreds of bright yellow rubber duckies will be dumped into Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, to race valiantly toward the shore. Frequently helped by the Avalon Harbor Department and their trusty firehoses, the duckies will battle ferociously as they bob to the finish line. The Avalon Rubber Ducky Derby is a fundraiser for the local children’s theater troupe, Kids at Play, and also includes a corporate race and decorated duck competition. Adopting a duck – or a flock of ducks – is open to residents and visitors alike and includes the satisfaction of supporting a good cause as well as the thrill of cheering your duck to the finish. The fun all starts at noon on Avalon’s South Beach.