So I meet a lot of interesting people on the road. Every so often, some of these people let me into their own lives. While waiting for some repairs in Long Beach, I met a couple who has lived full-time on Catalina Island for the past 20 years. They invited me on a personal tour of the island, and I quickly accepted.
Part of the Channel Islands, Santa Catalina Island (people just call it Catalina) is about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles. I opted to take the hour-long ferry ride to get to the island, but one day I will fly to the Catalina Airport myself — one day. It was a pretty choppy day across the channel; in fact, the previous ferry was cancelled due to high winds. It was about as uncomfortable a boat ride as I would have preferred, but so well worth the ride!
The only incorporated city on the island is Avalon. Its streets overlooking the Pacific Ocean are full of touristy stores, restaurants, bars, and hotels. There are very, very few cars on the island; street legal golf carts are everywhere! The town just has a calm and serene vibe to it. There is also a Chicago connection to Avalon and the entire Catalina Island. The Wrigley family owned the island for many years, and the Chicago Cubs even used the island for spring training back in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. The Catalina Island Conservancy now owns 88% of the island.
With the exception of the city of Avalon, a few remote houses, some farms, camps, and resorts — oh, and the Airport-in-the-Sky — Catalina Island looks like California looked like 200 years ago. I know California gets a bad rap sometimes, but let me tell you, California has some absolutely stunning scenery. And Catalina Island has some of the best scenery in all of California.
Anyone visiting the Los Angeles area absolutely, positively needs to visit Catalina Island! Thanks for the tour, Laurie!