Santa Catalina Island
On one’s birthday, it’s a common tradition to do something you enjoy. What if travel was your biggest joy but you recently had an extended holiday? It’s definitely an issue. In previous years I spent my birthday in some amazing places like Rio de Janeiro and Quito, Ecuador, most notably. Having a career doesn’t allow you to roam the world whenever you please. This was my dilemma. An alternative, and a solution, is to travel locally, travel not requiring airfare and in relative short distance. A location you can drive to and enjoy on the same day. With four days off, I decided to visit Malibu and Santa Monica, along with Santa Catalina Island and the topic of todays article.
Catalina is situated just 20 miles off the coast of Southern California and the port of Long Beach. It has the look of a Mediterranean island and the features of a tropical island. The island is full of activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, parasailing, a submarine that doesn’t submerge, etc. Yes, a mini-submarine created for perfect viewing of the underwater world of the coast line without the fears of an authentic submarine.
Avalon is the main port on the island and it’s a small town you can wander around in a short time, with great shops and restaurants. The main draws are the beaches and the clear waters unseen on the mainland of Southern California. The current of the Pacific Ocean makes the waters in Southern California a little murky but Avalon faces towards the mainland and is protected from tide which pounds the opposing side of the island. The visibility of the waters is between 30 to 40 feet, usually reserved for tropical islands.
This visit also included another snorkeling excursion for me. The location I chose was the famed Casino Point. I’d been here before and the snorkeling was amazing with 20 to 30 foot long kelp attracting turtles and sea lions with its diverse ecology. This expedition, I wasn’t so lucky. A storm had uprooted the kelp. All isn’t lost, the visibility was incredible today and the fish weren’t shy, swimming with me as if we had met before. The main attraction is the state fish, the garibaldi, an orange-colored fish that shine in this crystal clear water. These fish are abundant due to the severe fines enforced by law if you harm them. In fact, most animals here are protected through a conservancy.
Most visitors only visit the town of Avalon but there are so much more to the island. I must confess, before this visit, I had never seen any portion of the island other than Avalon. To cure this weakness I took a tour into the interior of the island. The route took us above the harbor, 15oo feet, and we were rewarded with spectacular views.
The main reason for me to take this tour was to catch a glimpse of the somewhat elusive bison of Catalina. A heard of about 150 bison reside on this island and spotting them requires a bit of luck. Originally, fourteen bison were brought to the island in the 1920’s as part of a movie cast and have become quite a draw for some. We didn’t see the big heard but we did see two males in the distance and another grazing along the road, fulfilling my expectations and a great way to end the day.
There’s more wild life on the island including woodpeckers, foxes, deer and bald eagles, of which two were hovering overhead as we ascended up the hill.
I’m also posting this article to participate in the ‘Show your World’ event hosted by TinyExpats. This series highlights the interesting places in the world and Santa Catalina Island is certainly one of those.