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CIVR Blog: Chaplin & Goddard Museum Exhibit

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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: Easter on Catalina

Easter on Catalina

Easter on Catalina

Easter on Catalina Island

If you’re looking for a chance to turn your kids loose to hunt plastic eggs or hunting for your next great artistic treasure, Catalina Island is the place to be this Easter. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which this year schedules the holiday on Sunday, April 20.

In Avalon on Catalina Island, the Easter fun starts on April 16, with egg dying in City Park. Sponsored by the City of Avalon Recreation Department, the free event will start at 2 p.m. Bring your own eggs – hard-boiled recommended. The next day, April 17, Springfest takes over Crescent Avenue with food, fun and games for whole family. On Saturday, April 19, the city will sponsor an Easter Egg Hunt for kids third grade and under just below Avalon Schools at Avalon Canyon Road. The race for eggs starts at 9 a.m. and, trust me, you won’t want to be late.

The Catalina Art Association will fill Crescent Avenue with arts, artisans and crafts on Easter weekend for the Fifth Annual Catalina Art Fair and Exhibition. CAFÉ will be three days of art and entertainment, with the art and craft show kicking off on Friday evening.

At Two Harbors, at Catalina Island’s West End, Easter weekend is also filled with activities. On Saturday, April 19, morning hat decorating will lead into an afternoon hat parade. On Easter morning, the day will start with an Easter Egg Hunt in Two Harbors Plaza and Easter Brunch at the West End Galley. All of the Easter fun at Two Harbors is sponsored by the Corsair Yacht Club.

CIVR Blog: Wrigley Marine Science Center

Photo credit SCMI

Photo credit SCMI

Catalina Island’s marine environment attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Ocean kayakers, anglers and Catalina Island scuba divers explore above and below the surface, discovering a nearly pristine environment that teems with marine life.

That environment, like many in the world, is at risk from a number of threats. Students and faculty at the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies are on the front lines of assessing and perhaps even ending those threats. Located near Two Harbors, on Catalina Island’s remote West End, the Wrigley Institute features labs, housing and lecture halls designed for students to learn more about the marine environment and the threats it faces.

While the Wrigley Marine Science Center at Two Harbors is primarily focused on educating students and facilitating research, the facility is open to the public on a limited basis. Individuals can visit with an appointment set up by calling (310) 510-0811. During the summer, Saturdays at the Lab provide two hour tours every Saturday morning starting at 10 a.m. And new this year, USC Family Science Programs will provide fascinating scientific exploration for families with children ages five and up. Three weekend programs are available and three full day programs. Reservations are highly recommended.

CIVR Blog: The Rest of the Island

Photo by Jack Baldelli, courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Photo by Jack Baldelli, courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Seeing the rest of the island

Most of the nearly one million people who visit Santa Catalina Island every year never see more than the two square miles of Avalon. Their experience with this fascinating Southern California destination never extends farther than the shops, restaurants and bars of the island’s only incorporated city. But Catalina Island is much more than Avalon and missing out on the rest of the island is missing out on a lot.

There are several ways to see the interior: tours, hikes and bikes are just a few. Another way to really get a glimpse of Catalina’s wild side is by taking part in the Catalina Island Conservancy’s monthly Windward Beaches Cleanups. Held the second Saturday of every month, the cleanups go to Ben Weston Beach, Cottonwood Beach, Shark Harbor or Little Harbor. There’s some volunteer work involved, but you’ll also get the chance to see spectacular beaches with pounding surf, dramatic vistas and unique wild life.

The Conservancy provides transportation, with a van that leaves the Conservancy House on the corner of Claressa Avenue and Third Street at 8 a.m. Supplies and drinks are provided and the van returns to Avalon at noon. Call (310) 510-2595, ext. 112 to reserve your spot.

CIVR Blog: Mapping Catalina Island

Catalina Island Conservancy Trail Map

Catalina Island Conservancy Trail Map

Most Catalina Island visitors see only the few miles around Avalon. The city’s shops and spas, restaurants and bars, history and beaches are all they ever see of Catalina Island’s things to do.

Just beyond Avalon however, Catalina Island opens up into a wonderland of wild places and untamed spaces, where dramatic vistas of the Pacific provide a compelling backdrop for plants and animals found nowhere else. Exploring that wonderland can take a lifetime, but you can get a good start by exploring the Catalina Island Conservancy’s trail map. Available online or in hard copy at the Conservancy House on the corner of Third Street and Claressa Avenue, this Catalina Island hiking map provides a wealth of information whether you’re looking to plan a multi-day trek on the Trans-Catalina Trail or just do some armchair exploring while you have your morning coffee.

Detailing not just Catalina Island hikes, but also the island’s paved and unpaved roads as well as campgrounds and picnic spots, the popular map is an indispensable tool for anyone who would like to know more about exploring Santa Catalina. Noted locations, both on the shoreline and the interior are identified as are ponds and reservoirs. Elevation gain is noted, both for the Trans-Catalina Trail and the Catalina Island’s major peaks.

Next time you’re on the island, stop by and get your own copy of the map, but in the meanwhile, enjoy exploring.

CIVR Blog: Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup

Photo courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy

Photo courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy

Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup set for Feb. 22

Catalina’s crystal clear waters are a constant source of amazement. Bright orange garibaldi, amber fronds of kelp and playful sea lions can all be seen from the surface, thanks to the exceptional water clarity found around Santa Catalina.

Each year, hundreds of scuba divers do their part to make sure the Catalina waters stay crystal clear by taking part in the Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup. Plunging beneath the surface, those dedicated divers bring up hundreds of pounds of trash, including cans, bottles and a truly remarkable number of sunglasses and cellphones.

Each year the divers also surface with a number of treasures and oddities, including diamond rings, old coins, bullets, outboard motors, wallets and unopened wine bottles. Shortly after the clean-up concludes an awards ceremony spotlights the most interesting finds for the year.

The only time scuba diving is allowed in Avalon Harbor, the cleanup serves as a fundraiser for the Catalina Conservancy’s Robert R. Given Fund for Ocean Conservation and Educational Outreach and the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. Whether you plan to take the plunge yourself or just peruse the findings, the Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup is always an interesting way to spend the day. This year’s cleanup is set for Feb. 22, 2014. The cost to participate is $40 per diver.

CIVR Blog: Big Fish

Photo credit: www.marlinnut.com

Photo credit: www.marlinnut.com

Catalina’s big game fish attract anglers from around the world

Catalina Island’s waters abound with delicious marine life. Lobster and halibut, scallops and seabass, yellowtail and calamari are just some of the many Catalina species that are delectable when served up on a plate.

All of those species are regularly caught by recreational anglers and spearfishers and, in the case of lobster, from hoop nets off the end of the green Pleasure Pier. One of Catalina’s tastiest fish is also much harder to catch. Pacific swordfish are regularly caught in season by professional crews using harpoons aboard specially outfitted vessels known as stick boats. Their catches show up on the menus of the some of the best fish restaurants in Southern California. But every once in a while one of these massive fighting fish is landed by a recreational angler aboard a sports-fishing vessel. Weighing in at around 200 pounds or more, landing a swordfish can be thrill of a lifetime for an angler and will provide a fish story to tell for years to come.

While swordfish are the tastiest big game fish in Catalina waters, they are definitely not the usual prey. Striped marlin are known for their fighting spirit and acrobatic leaps and are the preferred quarry of big game anglers. Widely considered an acquired taste, marlin has a strong flavor and is best served smoked. Dinner is generally not the goal when fishing for marlin, so most anglers choose catch and release to ensure that generations to come will be able to match skills against these finned fighters.

CIVR Blog: Discover Wild Catalina

 Left to right: Denise Morris, Alissa Morris and Dwayne Morris. Photo by Pat Maxwell courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.


Left to right: Denise Morris, Alissa Morris and Dwayne Morris. Photo by Pat Maxwell courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Discover Wild Catalina

There are many ways to discover the natural side of Catalina Island. Multi-day hikes, volunteer vacations and camping at remote beaches are a few of them. Just up Avalon Canyon Road from the waterfront is another.

The Catalina Island Conservancy operates the Nature Center at Avalon Canyon, a wonderful spot to immerse yourself in the natural history of Santa Catalina. As one of California’s eight Channel Islands, Catalina is home to many species found nowhere else on earth. The Nature Center offers an easy way to explore that biology as well as the geologic and biologic forces at work on the island.

Originally constructed and operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Nature Center at Avalon Canyonis now open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers activities for scientific exploration for all ages. Videos, hands-on exhibits and a resource center are all available to foster learning about the island. There is no admission charge.

Getting to the Nature Center involves a 20-minute walk along the Catalina Island Visitors Golf Course. The gentle slope provides a mild workout or it’s a quick taxi, trolley or golf cart ride.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Fishing

Photo credit: CatalinaIslandVacation.org

Photo credit: CatalinaIslandVacation.org

Drop in on the Catalina Island angling scene

Whether you’re looking to drop a drop line off the end of the pier or charter a fully equipped sportsfisher in pursuit of mighty marlin, Catalina Island fishing offers something for everyone.

Most Catalina Island anglers pursue their prey from above the surface, but Catalina, CA, also has a very active spearfishing scene.

For the recreational angler, several Catalina Island species offer a delicious return on the investment of angling time. Halibut, a flat fish found on the sandy seafloor from Mexico to Alaska, cannot be beat in terms of sheer delectability. White sea bass, brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the dedication of thousands of anglers and several hard-working organizations, can now be caught on rod and reel as well as spear. Yellowtail are often caught around the island and can be prepared many ways. Calico bass are frequently caught near Avalon and, although smaller, make a tasty dinner for the fish fan.  The island’s most iconic fish, the garibaldi, are completely protected and cannot be caught or collected. Also protected are another local icon now making a comeback, the giant black sea bass.

Catalina Island’s big game fish, marlin and swordfish, are best pursued with the help of a knowledgeable sports-fishing captain at the helm of a vessel big enough to pursue these mighty creatures. Several charter boats operate from Avalon and can be booked in advance.

No matter what your quarry, best check with the Department of Fish and Game for current size and bag limits. Many areas around Avalon are restricted by either the city or the state, including Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve and the Casino Dive Park. With careful management and respectful harvesting, Catalina Island’s marine bounty will be thrilling generations to come.

CIVR Blog: Shopping Catalina style

The Shops at Atwater

The Shops at Atwater

With quaint shops, unique gifts and one-of-a-kind souvenirs, Catalina shopping has long been a favorite activity for residents and visitors alike.

Thanks to some dramatic renovations, Catalina Island has a new place to shop. The Shops at Atwater, formerly known as the Atwater Arcade, provide a range of gift and souvenir opportunities. Located below the Atwater Hotel and home to the Avalon Post Office, the Shops at the Atwater can be entered either from Sumner Avenue or Metropole Avenue, across from Vons. Chet’s Hardware, which has long anchored the area, is a great spot to stop in for housewares and home improvements. Tradewinds and Steamer Trunk, on the Sumner Avenue side, have long been favorite spots to discover irresistible treasures and they continue to entice shoppers. New to the area, but not new to Avalon are Jewels of Interest, formerly Family Jewels, and Carlota’s Mexican Shop, both of which moved from the El Encanto, which is being transformed into a high-end spa.

In among the Shops at Atwater, you’ll also find Catalina Island Vacation Rentals new office, which it shares with Catalina Island Real Estate. Our two sister companies work together and the shared office space allows the synergy between the two to flourish. The new office space has a dramatic accent wall and new open floor plan.

The space surrounding the Shops at the Atwater has been transformed, with bright paint and added architectural details. The area will continue to be a place to discover, with new tenants planned, including a coffee bar.