With the COVID pandemic’s end in sight, 47% of polled U.S. adults said they plan to go on leisure holiday travel this 2022. They’re also preparing to spend an average of $2,441 for their trips. That’s $1,000+ higher than the typical consumer!
California, in turn, is high on the list of travel destinations; it expects 259.8 million visitors by the end of 2022. The Golden State is also looking forward to welcoming 281.5 million visitors in 2023.
If you’re holidaying in California, too, then do yourself a favor and visit Catalina Island. You won’t regret it, and we’ll tell you why below.
1. An Island Steeped in History
Santa Catalina wasn’t always the Island’s name; it was Pimu or Pimungna. Back then, Native Americans known as the Gabrieliño or Tongva inhabited it. They lived there for at least 8,000 years.
Then, on October 7, 1542, European explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo set foot on the Island. He claimed and named it San Salvador. It was then that the Spanish began their discovery of the Island.
On November 24, 1602, the ship of the second Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaíno saw the Island. One of the passengers was Father Antonio de la Ascensión. Being Saint Catherine’s Day, he changed the Island’s name to Santa Catalina in honor of the saint.
Afterward, otter hunters, ranchers, miners, the military, and smugglers used Santa Catalina.
George Shatto then bought the Island in 1887; he was the first with plans to turn it into a resort destination. While he wasn’t that successful, he built the first pier and hotel. His sister-in-law would then name the area Avalon.
Shatto defaulted on his loans, so he had to sell the Island to the Banning Brothers. The new owners built an aquarium and a railway, among other things, and were successful for a while. However, on November 1915, a fire devasted their investments.
William Wrigley, Jr. of Wrigley Company came into the picture in 1919. He bought and developed Avalon to continue turning it into a holiday destination. He also built Catalina Casino, where the world’s largest circular ballroom sits.
Today, the Wrigley family continues to develop and maintain the Island’s beauty.
With such an enthralling history, you surely won’t regret visiting Catalina Island. To learn more about it, visit Avalon’s Catalina Island Museum.
2. Pristine and Unspoiled White Sand Beaches
Catalina’s beaches boast fine white sand and crystal-clear waters. They’re so breathtakingly beautiful you’d think you’re in paradise.
Best of all, you can choose between public and private beaches. If you opt for the latter, your choices include Step Beach, Middle Beach, and South Beach. But if you’re looking to party, head to Descanso Beach, a private beach where you only have to pay a $2 access fee.
3. An Explorer’s Haven
Your “what to do on Catalina Island” list should include a trip to the Conservancy. Officially called the Catalina Island Conservancy, it’s among SoCal’s oldest private land trusts.
The Conservancy exists to protect 88% of the Island and its natural beauty and ecosystem. Thanks to this non-profit, over 62 miles of the Island’s beaches remain unspoiled.
While the Conservancy is a private land trust, it allows public access. That means you can keep exploring it to your heart’s desire for a small price. For instance, non-member adults who’d like to go on a hike only have to pay $12, while the fee for kids is just $8.
The Conservancy offers many other activities, including biking, boating, camping, hiking, and eco-tours. If you’re a green thumb, head to the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery and the Wrigley Botanic Garden.
4. See Wildlife in Their Natural Habitat
Catalina Island is home to over 60 wildlife species you won’t find anywhere else. There’s the Catalina California Quail, Catalina Orange-tip Butterfly, and Santa Catalina Island Fox. Plants include the Catalina Cherry, Catalina crossosoma, and Catalina mariposa lily.
Many of the Island’s endemic species live within its “interior,” also called The Hills. It’s part of the undeveloped area protected by the Catalina Island Conservancy. So, that’s another reason to head to the Conservancy as soon as you set foot on the Island.
However, Catalina isn’t only full of endemic animals and plants. There are other wildlife species you can spot here, such as the bison and bald eagles. You may even see dolphins, gigantic whales, and colorful garibaldi in the sea if you’re lucky.
5. A Short Trip From SoCal
Going to Catalina Island is easy, thanks to Southern California’s four mainland ports. By sea, the fastest ferry to Catalina takes only about an hour from Newport Beach.
You can also get a Catalina Island ferry from Dana Point, Long Beach, and San Pedro ports. Dana Point and Long Beach ferries take about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Boat rides from San Pedro to Avalon or Two Harbors last 1 hour and 18 minutes.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can opt for a helicopter ride that takes about 15 minutes. These private charter flight services are available from all Southern California airports.
6. Be One With the Stars
Catalina is famous for being the backdrop of over 500 films, documentaries, TV shows, and ads. It was once even home to none other than Marilyn Monroe, although when she lived there, she was still Norma Jeane.
However, what we meant by being one with the stars isn’t Hollywood-related. Instead, we’re talking astronomy and star gazing.
Catalina Island’s isolated position makes it a perfect place for night sky watching. Its location also puts it away from the light-polluted mainland. So, come night, the stars put on an incredible light show you can see and enjoy from the Island’s interior.
Visit Catalina Island on Your Next Holiday
We’ve only listed half a dozen reasons, but they should be enough to make you want to visit Catalina Island. If they’re not enough, here’s another: it’s a perfect getaway for food and craft beverages. Its weather is also incredible, rarely exceeding 85° in summer or dipping below 50° in winter.
So, why not consider planning your Catalina Island holiday today? The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll have something to look forward to.
For more informative guides like this, check out our recent blog posts!