Fast Facts: Catalina’s Ben Weston Beach

Catalina Island might be known as a boating destination, but did you know a popular surfing spot resides on the island’s backside?

Ben Weston Beach was identified by Mountain and Sea Adventures as one of two ideal surfing spots on Catalina Island (the other being Shark Harbor).

“The next most consistent and even more desirable of a surf spot on Catalina [behind Shark Harbor] is Ben Weston [Beach],” the outdoor-themed website stated.

The interesting aspect about Ben Weston Beach is not its ideal surfing conditions but instead how the isolated stretch of Catalina coast earned its name. Who was Ben Weston?

Some corners explain Benjamin Stone Weston to be a one-time Army officer who, during World War II, was stationed near the very beach that bears his name.

An article in a February 2014 edition of Catalina Islander, however, debunked the historical account, instead explaining Weston to be a “successful sailor turned rancher” who owned sheep ranching rights on the island.

“There’s a myth floating around out there that Ben Weston was an Army officer stationed at nearby Camp Cactus during World War II. Don’t pay any attention to it,” Jim Watson wrote in his Jan. 14, 2014 article. “Contrary to many historical accounts, Weston was not a simple squatter but was in fact a successful sailor turned rancher.”

Weston, according to Watson, was a merchant trading ship crewmember who visited Catalina during his vessel’s stop there. After falling in love with the island, he purchased sheep ranching rights from James Lick for $20 worth of gold.

“After eventually moving his sheep to the Torrance area, Weston spent … the rest of his life on the mainland,” Watson wrote about Weston, who was reportedly born in Salem, Massachusetts. “He passed away in 1905 at the age of 73 and is buried at the Wilmington Cemetery.”

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