Catalina Island is Southern California’s (not-so) secret idyllic destination

Boaters continue to navigate across the channel to their favorite local getaway. What’s new at SoCal’s hidden gem?

CATALINA ISLAND — The Log presents its second-ever issue dedicated to Catalina Island, the only of the network of Channel Islands where humans can take up residence (if they are lucky enough to claim a mooring or terrestrial home at Avalon or Two Harbors). Catalina – a regular destination for Southern California’s borders – is as diverse as it is quaint. The island’s rugged interior offers a wide array of outdoor activities and natural resources. Avalon is a small town where everything is essentially within a few minutes walking distance and operates on “island time.” But don’t be completely “fooled” by Avalon’s slow-paced lifestyle – the only incorporated city in the entire Channel Islands is considered a “metropolis” in the eyes of Two Harbors. In between the two Catalina destinations are plenty of opportunities to hike, camp, fish, moor, dock, swim, dive, kayak, standup paddleboard or relax.

Boaters from San Diego to Santa Barbara, meanwhile, regularly navigate across the channel to dock or drop anchor at Avalon Harbor, Two Harbors or any of the smaller coves and landings in between. Boaters, once docked or anchored, have the gamut of activities to explore on the island – assuming they actually want to get off their boat.

Two Harbors, for example, continues to be a destination for camping, fishing, hiking and kayaking, among other outdoor activities. Palapas populate one of the most visible beaches in Two Harbors, giving visitors an opportunity to experience a slice of the South Pacific lifestyle. Those taking up residence at Banning House Lodge will have access to peace of mind, as the property does not have WiFi and its rooms are devoid of television or radio.

Of course there are other “modern” amenities to enjoy in Avalon. Take in a bit of culture at Catalina Island Museum, enjoy a smorgasbord of seafood dining options at Bluewater Grill or recharge while being pampered at Island Spa Catalina.

Glenmore Plaza Hotel offers a great peek into a time that once was, what with it being the oldest hotel on the island and second-oldest in all of California (only behind Hotel Del Coronado just outside of San Diego). Of course there are the usual landmarks defining Catalina Island, such as The Casino, Mt. Ada and Green Pleasure Pier.

Those who want to get out and explore while still being close to the “metropolis” of Avalon can hike among the trees at the Aerial Adventure, enjoy a Zip-line through the local canyons or live the charmed life at Descanso Beach Club.

Visitors can also partake in some falconry, take an eco-Jeep tour around the island’s interior, have lunch at Airport In The Sky or start a campfire at one of the designated campsites.

Catalina Island essentially has a little something for everyone. Our annual Catalina Island Issue delves in to a few things local boaters can experience when visiting Southern California’s local getaway. The guide also features a listing of upcoming events, resources for boaters to use once at the island, insight on local amenities and happenings, and a few dashes of history.

As they always say in Catalina: When you’re here, you’re on Island Time. (Getting off your boat is optional.)

Photo: Parimal M. Rohit

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