Sandra Scott Travels: Santa Catalina Is A-Waitin’ For You

South Beach

South Beach

Last week I asked: Where is the “Island of Romance?

Catalina, California

Explore The “Island of Romance
Explore The “Island of Romance

I was surprised my children were not familiar with the song “26 Miles” by the Four Preps.

Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me,
Santa Catalina, the island of romance…

John and I have been to Catalina twice and there is more than romance – there is fun, adventure and relaxation.

The easiest and least expensive way to get to Catalina is by ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach or Dana Point.

Catalina Express
Catalina Express

It takes a bit more than an hour.

We could have taken a helicopter from Long Beach, San Pedro, Burbank or John Wayne Airport.

Carnival cruise line also stops on some cruises.

Avalon, the island’s main town, is small so everything is in easy walking distance.

The public bus has a fixed route up the canyon to Wrigley Memorial and the Botanical Gardens.

shuttle bus service
shuttle bus service

People can rent a golf cart or bike and there is a sightseeing tour in a motor coach, which is what we did, and a shuttle bus service or taxi van service to the Airport in the Sky, Two Harbors, or the interior campground.

The island has been inhabited for at least 8,000 years.

During that time it was home to Native Americans, and visited by the Spanish who named the island in honor of St. Catherine.

More recently, until 1970, it was owned by William Wrigley Jr. of chewing gum fame and owner of the Chicago Cubs.

The Casino
The Casino

Wrigley developed it into a resort island and it was used as the Chicago Cubs spring training site for several years.

Visitors can learn more at the Catalina Island Museum.

The Casino is the iconic landmark in Avalon Bay.

You can’t miss it.

If you plan to gamble you will be disappointed because it isn’t that kind of casino.

The name comes from the Italian meaning a “gathering place.”

South Beach
South Beach

The large building contains a movie theater, ballroom, and more.

We took the 90-minute walking tour and saw where the big bands played to the enjoyment of their famous guests.

On our recent trip our son and his wife went scuba diving in the kelp fields and declared, “It was awesome!”

On our first trip, John and I took the Sea Wolf Semi-Submersible Vessel and saw the marine life through our own porthole five feet below the surface.

Middle Beach
Middle Beach

There are a variety of boat tours to see the dolphins, seals, and glass bottom boats to view the fish.

We also took the Avalon Scenic Tour of the town including the home of Norma Jean Baker, better known as Marilyn Monroe.

There is also a Hummer of the Avalon Canyon Trail Tour or the one to Mr. Ada for great views of the area.

For the adventurous there is zip lining, rock climbing, and/or the unique Aerial Adventure where you can swing and slide from tree to tree.

Don’t miss viewing the buffalo herd.

Where the buffalo roam
Where the buffalo roam

While filming “The Vanishing American” in 1924, the production crew imported 14 bison from the Great Plains.

They never left the island and over the years the herd has increased.

The island has changed little in the last 50 years.

They like it that way and so do the tourists.

There is a 20-year waiting list to buy/own a car.

Have fun diving
Have fun diving

The fun continues with swimming, standup board paddling, kayaking, relaxing with a spa treatment and golfing.

There are a variety of accommodations.

To avoid the crowds and take advantage of great values consider visiting in the spring or fall.

Travel Trivia Tease™: What British ship was called “The Grey Ghost?”

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!