Catalina Island – An Oasis Off the Coast of LA

Catalina Island is a charming island in the Pacific just off the coast of Southern California. The island is home to a variety of species of birds, sea life and land mammals as well hiking trails, camping grounds and fishing/snorkeling opportunities. Catalina Island is also a luxurious destination for travelers looking to be pampered at a spa in its town center of Avalon or stay at its many hotels and inns. Catalina is a forty five minute boat trip from Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

The most popular arrival method into Catalina Island is via boat from the mainland in the town of Avalon. Avalon is considered the central point of the island where visitors can get information on all aspects of the Catalina experience from lodging to hiking. Located on the eastern coast of the island, Avalon is home of most of the hotels, shopping and dinning opportunities on Catalina. Small little streets and walking paths criss cross through Avalon. At the center of Avalon’s shores is its harbor, home to dozens of private yachts and sail boats.

Avalon is home to over 30 restaurants, hotels and inns. The accommodations of Avalon range from small bed and breakfasts to larger hotels. Outside of Avalon, Catalina is known as a haven for campers and offers a variety of camping opportunities.

In the surrounding area around the town of Avalon are charming lanes and hiking trails that branch out from the town center to destinations all over the island. For those not inclined to walk, there are many alternatives including golf cart rentals and shuttle bus aervices that take visitors from either end of the island. The hiking trails on Catalina are expansive, yet beautiful as on many points they afford hikers 360 views of the ocean. Many of the trails are ideal for more experienced hikers with proper equipment. One of the more unique attractions for those seeking an outdoor and nature experience are Catalina’s many free roaming buffalo. Originally introduced to the island in the 1920s, the buffalo were used in many old western Hollywood shoots. Today the buffalo population is over 250. The island offers a safari like tour where visitors sit in back of giant jeeps and are taken through the area where the buffalo’s roam much like a tour you would see in Africa.

Catalina offers many opportunities for engaging with the sea life that surround the ialand. The island offers one of the most popular snorkeling and dive spots in all of California. Catalina’s water temperatures vary seasonally, from a low in the fifties to a high in the low seventies. As well as offering excellent visibility, Catalina Island’s underwater gardens and spectacular kelp forests provide a beautiful back drop for the diverse variety of marine life and local fish. In addition there are many hidden coves, underwater reefs and cliffs, as well as dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals and aquatic birds that are both residents and frequent visitors along the coast of Catalina.

Getting to Catalina Island is very easy. The majority of transportation options depart from the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County areas. The most popular is the Catalina Express. The Catalina Express is a boat that departs from both Long Beach and Orange County and is a 45 minute trip to Avalon. In addition, Catalina is home to an airport where visitors can take both scheduled and charter air service from the main land. Scheduled air service departs from the Long Beach airport.

The island of Catalina is a fun destination that is full of sights and attractions that are fun for groups, solo travelers and families. Popular all year round, Catalina is a quiet and serene retreat that can be an easy escape for all those visiting or living in Southern California.

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