Choosing Catalina Island as your travel destination

Christianna Triolo

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Avalon Bay is one of two of the main ports of the island. Photo by Misael Virgen / Photo Editor

If you are planning your spring break and you do not want to go too far, Catalina Island is your destination for fun and relaxation, whether you are spending a day or the weekend. Catalina Island is just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California and is part of the eight beautiful Channel Islands that stretch along the California coast.

There are two main ways to get to the island, by sea or by air. The most popular form of travel to and from the island is the Catalina Express, used daily by both locals and tourists.

Upon landing in Avalon, it’s a short walk along Crescent Avenue to the many shops and restaurants along the avenue. The town is only one square mile and walking is the preferred way of getting around.

The shops in town are an eclectic mix of island memorabilia and art galleries. You can pick up everything you need from Catalina Island T-shirts and keychains, to beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

If you are spending the day, there is a wide variety of places to eat depending on what you are in the mood for. Most places serve big portions so you get your monies’ worth. There is no fast food chain or even a Starbucks on the island, only locally owned and operated businesses, which gives the feel of being far away from Los Angeles.

If you want to explore the Avalon hills, rent a golf cart, especially if you want to make your way to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden.

The Wrigley Memorial, built between 1933 and 1934, is one of several examples of the beautiful Art Deco structures on the island. The Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden is an inexpensive and beautiful scenic spot to enjoy the wide variety of native plants that grow on the island. Admission to the garden is only $5.

There are many activities that can be enjoyed during your visit to Catalina. From a glass bottom boat and submarine tours that go out to Lover’s Cove, a protected marine sanctuary, where you can view kelp gardens and the island’s most identifiable fish, the Garibaldi.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular, along with kayaking and parasailing.

If you don’t want to get wet, tours to the interior of the island are  also available. Along the way you will see bison, foxes and eagles. Interior tours also go to the other side of the island, the isthmus, which is the narrowest part of the island and Two Harbors.

When visiting Catalina you forget you are still a part of California because of the laid-back culture. Everyone is friendly and for a town of over 3,000 permanent residents everyone knows each other. It is truly an island escape that visitors have been enjoying since the late 1800s.