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Avalon Harbor SMALLAvalon Harbor.

Located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Santa Catalina Island is accessible by boat from three southern California ports; San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. It's better known to most as just Catalina Island. Most residents live in the town of Avalon and some in the coastal village of Two Harbors. Avalon is clean and safe and offers the quintessential beach town and island adventure.

Blessed with clear blue waters and Greek-isle scenery, Catalina Island is a Shangri-La. This laid back island town is chock full of places to eat, drink shop. Catalina has a wealth of natural and cultural resources, unique animals and plants found nowhere else on earth. Sightseeing opportunities are numerous and varied from escorted tours around town, adventure rides into the interior, jeep eco tours, hummer rides, to ziplines, rock climbing and undersea adventures. Independent activities are plentiful, camping, hiking, snuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, spa treatments, beach lounging, golf, motor boating, parasailing, fishing boat rides down the coastline and more.

Weather on Catalina Island is temperate, and average annual precipitation is low. Summers are dry and warm. With weather seldom an issue in Southern California, Catalina is an attractive destination year round, with alluring special events. Many of Catalina's annual visits travel in summer, but others select other seasons for special events, promotions and the best travel deals.

With its population of 3,696, Avalon is reminiscent of the villages that hug hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean. The town is great for strolling with a broad beachfront walkway that stretches from the Catalina Express mooring dock to Descanso Beach a mile away. In this easy atmosphere, Catalina offers the overnight visitor everything from tent-site camping to cozy beachfront hotels and bed and breakfasts, from family friendly inns to well-appointed condos, from charming cottage vacation rentals to an elegant four-star country Inn. There are luxurious oceanview suites and comfortable beach bungalows. Catalina Express packages with 21 properties that together offer a variety of lodging options coupled with boat tansportation, tours, meals and more.

Special events are held throughout the year on Catalina Island. The Catalina Chamber of Commerce keeps an updated calendar on its website (www.CatalinaChamber.com): Film Festival, Flying Fish Festival, Art Festival, Wine Festival, Jazz Trax Festival, Big Band Dances, Swing Dance in the Casino Ballroom, Concert Series, Golf Cart Parades, Museum displays. Sporting Events: Marathons, Triathalon, 50 mile Run, Billfish Tournaments, Scuba Dive Events, Motocross Race.

In its 30-year history, Catalina Express has ferried over 22 million passengers to and from Catalina. The fleet of eight high-speed boats carries passengers over the 22 miles in just about an hour, with up to 30 scheduled departures per day.

Catalina Express offers frequent departures from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. The Express goes direct from the mainland to Avalon and Two Harbors at the Isthmus.

The Commodore Lounge upgrade is available on the high-speed catamarans. Lounge passengers enjoy priority boarding, comfortable seating in a more intimate lounge environment and a complimentary beverage with packaged snack served by cabin attendants.

The Captain's Lounge upgrade for up to eight passengers is available for private bookings; located on the top deck directly behind the captain, it includes a complimentary bottle of champagne.

Boat reservations can be booked online at www.CatalinaExpress.com or by calling 800 429-4601.

 

(TravMedia.com contributed to this article)

 

Editor's note: Links to the websites of some Catalina Island lodging and dining options, and hundreds more for Los Angeles/mainland options, can be found at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

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