Catalina Island: Picture-Perfect Only 22 Miles off the Coast of Los Angeles
Beautiful Santa Catalina Island on your itinerary? Bring sturdy boots.
The place is steep. A tectonic accident squeezed this flame-shaped spine up from under the mainland eons ago, giving it dramatic drops both above and beneath the sea.
Hikers find sweeping vistas, swimmers enjoy intimate
coves and scuba divers and snorkelers get a lush, sheltered playground.
Catalina's hub, tiny Avalon (population 3,100), has an array of
mostly designed in the island's unique style. That's because Avalon got a "makeover" in the 1930s, when L.A. designers concocted cheery pastels to set it apart from mainland beach towns.
What's more, cars are impractical here, so residents and tourists drive around in golf carts, some customized with grill plates and sporty paint jobs.
And the rest of the island? Mostly private. Owned by the island's conservancy and roamed by buffalos. Visitors need permits (free) to hike its interior.
Catalina is "do-able" in a day, via a round-trip ferry ride from the mainland. But the island has plenty to merit a longer stay.
Everything in mile-square Avalon is within walking distance (yes, there are those hills), although golf carts, taxis and a trolley are also available.
Shoppers will find plenty in the shops along the beachfront Crescent Avenue, lined with fountains and planters decorated with the now-defunct Catalina Tile Company's distinctive ceramics.
The 407-foot-long Green Pleasure Pier serves as docking point for many of the island's boat excursions and rentals, including glass-bottom boat tours and semi-submersible boat tours.