AVALON—Whether you’re a first-time visitor, like myself, a seasoned visitor who enjoys the island from aboard your vessel, or a local, the island has plenty to offer and after more than a year of restrictions, the time hasn’t been better to put those land legs back to use and discover something new or rediscover an old favorite in Avalon or Two Harbors.
“I think everybody’s got that desire to get out and do something with their friends and family that perhaps they haven’t seen in the past year, year and a half,” said Kristin Metcalfe, senior director of marketing & communications for the Catalina Island Company.
So set sail and see how many of these activities you can check off this bucket list this summer!
NEW TO THE ISLAND/COMING SOON
Stay at the recently replaced tent cabins at Hermit Gulch Campground in Avalon or Two Harbors Campground. The Catalina Island Company recently installed nine new six and three-person tent cabins at the Hermit Gulch Campground. The tent cabins at Two Harbors Campground were also recently replaced. Don’t forget, boat-in only campsites are also available on the island’s leeward shore, offering truly secluded coastal camping experiences. These sites are more rugged and require bringing your own equipment.
Shop at Catalina Divers Supply, the oldest dive shop on Catalina Island, at its soon-to-open new location inside the Catalina Casino next to the Avalon Dive History Exhibit. They are expecting to open this new location in late summer.
Visit the new People’s Park Dog Park on Avalon Canyon Road. The fully enclosed park was recently installed by the city of Avalon and is a great place to let your pup stretch their legs. Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to dusk with some days and times designated for big or small breed dogs only. Full hours can be found online at https://bit.ly/3A1mTsX and dog park rules are available at https://bit.ly/35ZRCZD.
Eat at two of the soon-to-open businesses, Sailor’s Delight Ice Cream and Island Donuts. Sailor’s Delight Ice Cream is assuming the former Big Olaf’s Ice Cream space on Crescent Avenue and will feature traditional ice cream by the cup, cone, waffle ice cream sandwiches and cookie ice cream sandwiches. They anticipate opening in mid-July. Island Donuts will be located at the corner of Crescent and Clarissa and serve freshly made donuts, coffee, and hot beverages. They anticipate opening this summer.
Shop at two of the latest clothing and beach wear stores to open in Avalon, Catalina Blue and Sun & Sea Surfwear. Both opened this year. Catalina Blue is located along Crescent Avenue and features fashionable women’s clothing and shoes. Sun & Sea Surfwear is located on Sumner Avenue and features surf and sportswear from brands including Katin Surfwear, Rusty, Cobian, and more.
Metcalfe said one of her bucket list picks for every visitor to the island is the Catalina Casino and Descanso Beach Club.
“I think everybody that goes to Catalina Island or at least to Avalon should definitely walk past the Casino and visit Descanso Beach Club because there’s nothing else quite like that in Southern California, that kind of beach oasis,” said Metcalfe.
Chill at Descanso Beach Club and keep cool with one of their frozen cocktails – alcoholic or non-alcoholic. One of the most recognizable is Buffalo Milk, “the Official Drink of Catalina Island.” The drink was created in the 1970s by bartender Michael Hoffler at Harbor Reef Restaurant & Saloon in Two Harbors, another great stop to add to your list.
Hike along the Trans-Catalina Trail and stop by the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Trailhead Building, which provides hiking and biking permits, detailed information on campgrounds, island ecology, and history. Hiking permits are required and are free, they are also available online at catalinaconservancy.org.
Dive or Snorkel and catch a glimpse of the abundant marine life around the island and its surrounding Marina Protected Areas. The Casino Point Dive Park, located on the point just past the Catalina Casino building, is a popular destination in Avalon. In Two Harbors, Two Harbors Dive & Recreation Center can help with planning a dive trip.
Visit the Catalina Island Museum. With permanent and rotating exhibits, and a full schedule of events, there is always something new to learn about island history.
Visit the airport in the sky, Catalina Island’s only airport. The airport sits on one of the highest points on the island and features a gift shop and restaurant that are open the public. The airport can be accessed by the Catalina Island Conservancy Wildlands Express Shuttle, hiking, or biking.
Stroll through the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. The memorial honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr. who played an instrumental role in the history of Catalina Island. The idea for a garden came from Wrigley’s wife, Ada. In 1935, she supervised Pasadena horticulturalist Albert Conrad, who planted the original Desert Plant Collection. The Garden places a special emphasis on California island endemic plants.
Zip above the island on five consecutive ziplines high above Descanso Canyon, all featuring views of the Pacific Ocean. Catalina zipline adventurers will also learn about Catalina’s unique ecosystems and the efforts to protect them.
Take a Flying Fish Voyage with the Catalina Island Company. This popular seasonal tour from Catalina Island Company is back for the summer, giving visitors an up close and personal nighttime experience searching for Catalina’s world-famous marine aviators. The boat is equipped with a powerful searchlight that entices the fish to take flight and soar across the surface of the sea.
Take a Biofuel Hummer Tour of the island in a unique, open-air, biofuel H1 Hummer. This tour travels five miles up rugged interior terrain, where you will experience views of the coastline and deep canyons below and go in search of American bison. Metcalfe said she encouraged every visitor to go out into the interior, as it is a completely different experience.
Discover the iconic Casino in a 45-minute narrated walking tour of Catalina’s most well-known landmark.
Rent a golf cart to get around the island. Cars are severely restricted on Catalina Island, so carts are the preferred mode of transportation and a unique way to explore.
Be sure to check out the July 23 issue of the Log to see the list of your suggestions!
Staff note: This article was updated to correct the Flying Fish Voyage is provided by Catalina Island Company not Catalina Tours.