Byline: Ambrosia Brody
CATALINA ISLAND — While summer temperatures will hit triple digits at inland communities this season, boaters can find respite from the heat on Catalina Island. Along with those cool island breezes, boating visitors will find a wide array of outdoor concerts, special events, festivals, attractions, hikes and island tours to enjoy here.
If you are looking for more than a day getaway, the Santa Catalina Island Co. (SCICo) is offering a new two-night Discover Catalina Package for extended stays. The Discover Catalina Package starts at $410 per person (double occupancy) and includes transportation between Avalon and Two Harbors and two nights’ accommodation at either Avalon’s Pavilion Hotel or a recently renovated vacation casa in Two Harbors — the three-bedroom Casa Santa Cruz and four-bedroom Casa Santa Rosa on the isthmus. Or, visitors can pair a night at the Hotel Atwater in Avalon with a night at Two Harbors’ Banning House Lodge, a bed and breakfast inn originally built in 1910.
SCICo also offers guests a single-day Discover Two Harbors Adventure option for those seeking a shorter getaway. Every Saturday and Sunday, the Discover Two Harbors Adventure provides visitors with same-day transportation in a classic 1950s Flxible Bus from Avalon to Two Harbors, where guests have free time to lounge on the beach, grab a bite to eat at the Harbor Reef Restaurant and go sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, biking or snorkeling. On the return trip to Avalon, guests journey through the heart of the island, in Middle Ranch Canyon.
The five-hour, 30-minute tour is $89 per person and departs Avalon Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. For more information or to book a trip, visit visitcatalinaisland.com or call (877) 778-8322.
“Relatively few visitors to Avalon — Catalina Island’s only city — experience the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of the island’s West End and Two Harbors,” said Randall Herrel, CEO of the Santa Catalina Island Co. “These offerings provide guests much more flexibility and freedom to explore during their stay on Catalina Island.”
Back at Avalon, youngsters can enjoy a Kids’ Fishing Derby held every Wednesday morning through Aug. 21. Participants meet at the end of the Avalon Harbor’s Green Pier for a morning of angling adventures.
For the more serious angler, the 23rd annual Church Mouse Marlin Invitational fishing tournament — Aug. 26-27 — offers a 100-percent release competition that raises funds for Catalina Island youth. For more information, call (310) 467-2371 or visit churchmouse.org.
Craft beers and live music will be served during the 10th annual Microbrew Festival, Sept. 14. Held at Two Harbors, the festival allows participants to taste a variety of different artisan and craft beers while enjoying live music and light appetizers. All proceeds go to the Avalon Lions Club and support local charities and scholarships.
On the same day in Avalon, the 18th annual Catalina Island Women’s Forum Wine Festival will offer tastings from more than 70 wineries, along with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. This fundraising event helps support mentoring and scholarship programs for island students. For more information, call the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce at (310) 510-1520 or visit theciwf.org.
Looking toward fall, the 24th annual Buccaneer Days festival will take over Two Harbors with a four-day event Oct. 3-6, featuring live music, food booths, treasure hunts and costume contests.
For boaters looking for more fun things to do on the island, here is a list of seasonal “must” events and activities:
Through Sept. 1
What: Urban Adventure Quest Summer Challenge will help visitors explore the island by foot, on bicycles and with golf carts. This scavenger hunt and interactive tour is guided by smartphone.
What: The 15th annual Children’s Challenge at Two Harbors is open to kids 12 and younger. The fun-filled event consists of team relays, races and other activities — including limbo, bobbing for apples and much more. Ice cream will be served to all participants.
Aug. 6, 13 and 20
What: Summer Beach Bingo is scheduled every Tuesday adjacent to Avalon’s South Beach lifeguard stand. Cards are $1, and participants can win fun local prizes.
Contact: City of Avalon Recreation Department, (310) 510-1987.
Aug. 7, 14 and 21
What: A Kids’ Fishing Derby will be held from 7-9 a.m. at the end of the Avalon Harbor’s Green Pier.
Contact: City of Avalon Recreation Department, (310) 510-1987.
What: The Catalina Film Society offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy, discuss and celebrate brand-new unreleased independent films — on the second Saturday of each month. The suggested donation is $10 for non-members. Participation benefits the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Contact: (818) 787-1946, Catalinaff.org
What: Aero Club Social Fly-In (weather permitting) is ideal for kids and adults interested in airplanes. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., attendees can meet pilots from around the region and view their planes.
Contact: (310) 510-0954, catalinaconservancy.org
Aug. 10 and 24, Sept. 1
What: The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce will host its free Summer Concert Series from 8-10 p.m., next to the Wrigley Plaza Stage. A Beer and Wine Garden will be available during all concerts.
What: Tour the historic Tuna Club on the only day of the year it is open to the public. Once a year, the club opens its doors to guests to visit the facility that has been in operation since 1898. Mike Rivkin, author and past president of the Tuna Club, will greet visitors on guided tours at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., sharing the history of the club.
Contact: Catalina Island Museum at (310) 510-2414 to purchase tickets ($35 for the general public; $30 for members) or for more information.
What: Guests will enjoy an evening of music from Doo-Wop to pop standards with the Four Preps in Concert. The Four Preps will perform in a benefit for the Rotary Club of Avalon from 6-8 p.m. in the Casino’s Avalon Theater, where they will sing their 1957 Catalina-theme hit, “26 Miles Across the Sea,” along with other tunes.
Cost: Tickets range from $25 to $50, with special VIP tickets on sale for $100.
What: The 23rd annual Church Mouse Marlin Invitational is a nonprofit marlin fishing tournament, 100-percent release competition that raises money for Catalina youth. The 23rd — and last — tournament will provide a memorable finale for an event that has raised more than $885,000 for island youth.
Contact: (310) 467-2371, churchmouse.org
What: Participants can show off their “chip-throwing skills” in the 27th annual Jimmy Walker Buffalo Chip Toss, where contestants are separated into four groups: men, women, girls and boys. The farthest toss from each group will win a trophy and a Two Harbors gift card. The Buffalo Chips are hand-selected by staff members at Two Harbors and provided for contestants at the event. Last year’s farthest toss was 146 feet in the men’s division; 92 feet in the women’s division.
What: The second annual Catalina Air Show and Festival celebrates the history of aviation on Catalina Island. The air show will be held off the Avalon Bay breakwater and at the Airport in the Sky. The weekend is full of aviation events that include aerobatic aircraft performances, displays and concessions.
Contact: (310) 510-2595 ext. 818, catalinaairshow.com
What: The 18th annual Catalina Island Women’s Forum Wine Festival is a popular Avalon fundraiser that features tastings from more than 70 wineries, delectable hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Proceeds help support local student mentoring and scholarship programs.
Contact: Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce at (310) 510-1520 or theciwf.org
What: Boaters and visitors alike are invited to taste brews and listen to live music during the 11th annual Microbrew Fest on Two Harbors. This event sells out every year with about 500 guests in attendance and about 30 different breweries in participation. Guests receive a complimentary beer glass upon admission and will have access to unlimited tastings. The event also features live music, light appetizers and a silent auction, where all proceeds will go to local island charities and scholarships. Mad Mike’s sausage will also be in attendance, selling products and passing out samples to the crowd. Tickets went on sale starting Aug. 1.
Contact: (310) 510-4205
What: The annual Catalina Film Festival features about 100 films screened at multiple venues around the island plus nightly events and entertainment. The festival will present awards to films in up to 10 categories — including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation’s “Great Communicator” Award, the Chaplin Family’s Charlie Chaplin ICON Award and the ISLA Earth Award, an honor presented by the festival’s beneficiary, the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Contact: (818) 787-1946, catalinaff.org
What: The 55th annual Catalina Festival of Art — called the longest-held annual event on Catalina Island — features artists from across the nation who will exhibit (and sell) their work along Crescent Avenue, presenting fine art pieces, paintings, sculpture, fine crafts and photography. Highlights include a charity art auction and a kids’ art show.
Contact: Catalina Art Association at (310) 510-2788, catalinaartassociation.org
What: Catalina Island Conservancy Half Marathon. Enjoy the expansive natural beauty of Catalina Island’s wildlands and their spectacular vistas, while being challenged by their rugged terrain.
Contact: (909) 399-3553, runcatalina.com
What: National Museum Day allows visitors to discover Avalon’s Catalina Island Museum — dedicated to art, culture and the history of Santa Catalina Island — with free admission.
Contact: (310) 510-2414, catalinamuseum.org
What: Two Harbors’ popular 24th annual Buccaneer Days is a four-day festival offering live entertainment, food and beverage booths, costume contests, treasure hunts and a full schedule of fun activities.
The Santa Catalina Island Co. is launching several new nightlife offerings and attractions, including the following:
Avalon Grille Restaurant Presents 5@5 Happy Hour Specials and After Hours Parties
This summer, visitors can enjoy After Hours at the Avalon Grille, starting after dinner Friday and Saturday nights and going until 1:30 a.m. DJs will spin tunes while guests enjoy a wide selection of draft beer, wine and specialty cocktails. Sunday through Thursday between 5 and 6 p.m., the Avalon Grille’s 5@5 happy hour special offers a choice of five food and beverage items from a special menu for $5 dollars each. Special drink menus, themed parties and other entertainment are also offered on certain holidays.
Catalina Country Club Presents Catalina Comedy Nights
On Fridays through Aug. 30, Catalina Country Club presents Catalina Comedy Nights featuring the world-famous Laugh Factory Comedy Shows. With two shows a night and a dinner menu available for attendees, it’s an ideal way to kick off a weekend on Catalina Island. The shows are for audiences 18 and older. Standard admission ($30) or early-entry VIP ($40) tickets can be purchased online at visitcatalinaisland.com — or from any SCICo ticket booth, or at the Pavilion or Atwater hotels.
Descanso Beach Club Weekend Beach Parties
Catalina’s only beach nightlife spot, Descanso Beach Club, features weekends with DJs, happy hour specials at the beach bar and live local bands on stage starting at 6 p.m.
Catalina’s Summit Nights Adventure Hummer Tour
This guided Summit Nights Adventure Hummer Tour departs Avalon every Saturday at 8:30 p.m., taking guests in a convertible Hummer up a winding road to the summit of Catalina Island. From this location, guests can enjoy unparalleled views of the night sky. Guides help guests identify the constellations and spot local wildlife with the aid of night-vision goggles, while serving hot cocoa, coffee and snacks.
Harbor Reef Weekend Entertainment
The Harbor Reef Restaurant and Saloon now offers live entertainment and a late-night DJ for summer weekend guests on Catalina Island’s West End. Guests can savor the sweetness of Catalina’s signature cocktail — Buffalo Milk — and other popular beverages while DJs play on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to midnight. Live bands will rock the Harbor Reef’s beachside patio Saturday afternoons and on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. through the lunch hour.