Catalina Island abounds with activities and adventures and your can book most of them through Catalina Tours. From parasailing to exclusive back-country adventures, many of Catalina Island's smaller tour operators are available here.
Avalon’s newest adventure whisks visitors at 45 miles per hour above a dramatic canyon. One of the only ziplines in Southern California, the Catalina Island zipline opened in 2010 and has been thrilling guests ever since. Catalina Island zipline packages can be arranged through The Avalon Hotel on Catalina Island.
Bicycle rentals are widely available in Avalon, including beach cruisers and tandem bikes as well as helmets for the younger generation. You can also take it a little easier and rent an electric bike. If you’re looking for little more adventure, mountain biking, including tours and rentals, is available in Catalina Island’s rugged interior and electric bike tours can show you the sights while giving you a boost up Avalon’s steeper hillsides.
Most of the city of Avalon is ideal for walking, whether it’s a quick jaunt to the Catalina Island Museum, (310) 510-2414, in the Catalina Casino Building or a more challenging visit to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, located a couple of miles up Avalon Canyon Road. More intrepid visitors may want to plan a multi-trip expedition to take on the Trans-Catalina trail.
For those looking to save their legs, renting a golf cart does just that. Golf carts are the chosen method of transportation for Avalon residents, so it’s no wonder that a recent survey showed that renting a cart is the most popular activity for visitors. Two companies rent golf carts in Avalon: Catalina Cartopia, (310) 510-2493, and Island Rentals, (310) 510-1456.
Chosen as the top North American dive destination by readers of Rodale’s Scuba Diving magazine, the island offers an unmatched opportunity for both Avalon shore and Catalina boat diving. Gear rentals, classes, boat dives and introduction dives are available from dive shops in Avalon. Divers will also enjoy experiencing the Casino Point Dive Park, the first municipal dive park in the country. Catalina Island scuba diving can be arranged through Scuba Luv, Catalina Dive Shop or Catalina Divers Supply.
Snorkeling has long been a favorite Catalina Island activity and can be undertaken by anyone who can swim. Water temperatures usually exceed 70 degrees in the summer and rarely drop below 60 degrees even in the winter. Even so, many who choose to take the plunge opt to rent a wetsuit along with the rest of their gear. Taking the plunge can be as uncomplicated as renting equipment, buying some frozen peas to feed the fish and walking out to Lover’s Cove. Guided tours of the cove are available through Catalina Snorkel and Scuba. Or, for those looking for a bit more adventure, several companies, including Wet Spot Rentals and Snorkeling Catalina, offer guided tours to secluded island coves.
Visitors who would rather let the fish be the ones who get wet have a couple of choices to experience Catalina’s undersea gardens. Several Catalina glass bottom boats offer both day and night time cruises into Lover’s Cove, where passengers can watch vast schools of tame fish swarm beneath the vessels, eager for a handout. Three semi-submersibles take the concept one step further. Passengers actually sit beneath the waterline, giving them a fish’s eye view on the daytime and nighttime marine life action in Lover’s Cove. Glass bottom boat trips and semi-submersible tours are available through Catalina Discovery Tours or Catalina Adventure Tours.
Catalina Island ocean adventures abound and include rafting tours, Catalina para-sailing and renting jetskis in Catalina. Whale watching around Catalina Island includes regular opportunities to see California gray whales and the majestic blue whales and well as several species of dolphin that frequent Catalina waters. Catalina charter fishing boats are available to take you in pursuit of marlin, tuna and other game fish.
Formed in 1972 by the Wrigley family, the Conservancy was charged with preserving the island in its natural state for perpetuity. In 1975, the family deeded more than 42,000 island acres to the newly formed organization and developed its mission, which is to balance conservation, education and recreational uses on the island.
Conservation continues to be the Conservancy’s most important purpose. In Avalon, visitors can find an example of that purpose at the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, where native plants are showcased alongside exotic succulents. Catalina Island is home to a number of plants that are found nowhere else on earth, and much of the Conservancy’s work is spent eliminating introduced plants in order to give the native plants a better chance at long-term survival.
Working hand-in-hand with another organization, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, the Conservancy has already ensured the long-term survival of two animal species whose future on the island was in doubt. Bald eagles once again make their homes in the skies above Catalina and Island foxes will continue to forage on its hills and valleys, thanks to the efforts of the two organizations.
The Conservancy’s 42,000 acres represent about 86 percent of an island that is visited by more than 1 million visitors a year. Those visitors represent an ideal opportunity for the Conservancy to share its mission of education.
For more information about the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy or to make a financial contribution, visit www.CatalinaConservancy.org.