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26-Miles Across the Sea: Santa Catalina is the Place for Me
“26-miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is waiting for me, Santa Catalina the island of romance,” The Four Preps sang it best in their 1958 gold record song. Catalina Island is a great location for a day trip if you are in the Los Angeles area or a great location for a weekend getaway, honeymoon or even a wedding. The waters off the island are crystal clear and reach around 70 degrees in the late summer months. This island is a great, much more affordable, alternative to Hawaii and offers much of the same perks. If you are visiting the island for just a day, there are a lot of great things you can pack into a fun filled day for everyone!
Glass Bottom Boat Tours: The Island has wonderful glass bottom boat tours throughout the day for you to enjoy. You can enjoy an underwater view of the sea life under Lovers Cove via either a traditional glass bottom boat or on a partially submerged submarine-like vessel. The traditional glass bottom boat offers seating for 50 that runs the perimeter of the glass, so everyone can see down into the water. The partially submerged vessel offers windows that patrons can look out of that are under water. Both are great options, they take about 45 minutes and are fun for people of all ages. Of course, if you have problems with being in confined spaces, the partially submerged vessel may not be for you.
Helicopter Tours: Catalina Express not only offers a quick, reasonably priced flight from LA to the Island, but they also offer 30 minute helicopter tours of the Island as well. The helicopter holds up to 6 people, but your tour must have at least 4 people for them to run the tour. The helicopter tour is unique because it takes you over the rugged interior of the Island that most people never get to experience.
Zip Line Tours: If you prefer to see the Island from above, but don’t want to be in a helicopter, perhaps the Zip Line Tour is for you! The Catalina Zip Line Tour is the only Zip Line in Los Angeles or Orange County, and is unique because it consists of 5 separate lines. You start with an educational instruction and demonstration before boarding a bus that takes you to the Hog’s Back gate high up in the Islands hills. Then you fly down the mountain at speeds that can reach 45 MPH, sometimes more than 300 feet above land. One point of the tour has an extensive line that is 1,100 feet long. This Zip Line Tour is unique also because it is an Eco Tour, and you spend time at different eco stations along the tour. The entire trip can take about 2 hours.
Casino and Ballroom Tour: This is a walking tour of the Catalina Island Casino and Ballroom that lasts about 50 minutes. You get to go up into the Casino and Ballroom to see the beautiful interior of this grand building. The Casino features beautiful art deco murals and an authentic pipe organ from the late 1920’s and is a great tour that you can fit in to any day here on the Island.
Ghost Tour: Another great walking tour is the Ghost Tour of Catalina Island. This tour is offered once a day at 8:30pm, though you can request an afternoon tour, if you have enough people in your party. Though, a ghost tour during the brightest part of the day might not be, well, the brightest idea. This walking tour takes you up steep stairs to the upper part of the town and then walks and winds your way down into town. It takes about an hour total and is another nice way to spend some time on the island if you want to hear some interesting history of the Island and some of the buildings. The locals like to play tricks on the tourists though, so beware of that.
Flying Fish Boat Tour: During the summer months there is an 8:45pm Flying Fish Boat Tour that is offered as well. This boat tour is unique in that you are on the Blanche W. a solid wood ship built in 1924 that houses World War I era searchlights that illuminate the waters in the darkness of the night to help visitors see the unique flying fish of Catalina Island. This tour takes about one hour as well.
If you are staying on the Island for more than a day or would rather do one long tour than several short tours, there are options as well.
Cape Canyon Tour: This is an off-road tour of the back parts of the Island, where you will likely see the Bison the roam the more remote parts of Catalina. You get to experience the more remote parts of the Island sitting comfortably in an open air Mercedes Unimog off-road truck. This tour lasts a little over 4 hours though, so be sure to plan your time accordingly.
Inland Motor Tour: This is a 31 mile tour of Catalina aboard a 1950’s bus, which makes it quite unique. On this tour you have the opportunity to see bald eagles, bison and deer as well as get a unique view of untouched shoreline. This is also a lengthy tour that lasts about 3 ½ hours.
As you have read, there are many things that you can do on the Island, to customize your experience so that you see everything that you want to see. There is also the lovely downtown area of the city of Avalon, that you can spend a whole day just walking around and looking in shops if you want a low-key day. There are sandy beach areas for you to lounge on, a playground for small children, and many restaurants for you to enjoy as well.
If you are in the area, and want a fun way to spend a day, head on over to Catalina Island for a fun filled day of sun and cooler weather!
- The Official Catalina Island Website
Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce