We left from Dana Point in California aboard the Catalina Express ferry.It is fast and smooth, breaking through wind and waves taking us to our destination, Santa Catalina Island.It is 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles.
Our port is the small town of Avalon charming us with history, celebrities, and sports stories. The island was purchased by William Wrigley ( Wrigley gum, Chicago Bears) in 1919 and the goal was to create a winter resort like no other. It was a golden age of movie stars and baseball players until the war years. Today the Wrigley family has protected the island under the watchful eye of a conservancy, a legacy for future generations. There are beautiful historical buildings and hotels and restaurants line the harbor. One block above the Avalon Bay , built in 1987,the Hotel St Lauren charms us with her ambiance, so here we stayed. The victorian facade is a beautiful pink and has a stunning view of the ocean from the roof top deck where guests meet up. (www.stlauren.com) We carried our golf clubs since we discovered the Catalina Golf Course would be available. The course was built in 1892. It has been the host to many tournaments over the years but today with drought conditions and a challenging economy it has been reduced to a nine hole par 32 course.
It is small and has some tight fairways. The first tee from the top of a very steep hill is most impressive. We played nine holes twice and it was a fun round.The pro shop was friendly and helpful. The weather was absolutely perfect. Guests that are arriving from the mainland cannot bring their vehicles but there are golf cart rentals that allow you to see and tour most of Avalon within an hour and there is so much to see.
RELAX – You are on Island time.
We suggest you book a couple of hours with the golf cart to see most of area sights. The outdoor shopping and cafes will entertain you with live music and colorful welcoming architecture. The elevation changes are significant and you can witness cruise ships, fishing boats and even a submarine gather together in the harbor below you.The roadway is lined with cactus and palm trees which may prevent a treacherous exit off the side of a very steep mountain road.
One of the stunning buildings on this tour is the original casino pavilion which used to host elegant dances decades ago. The art inlaid tile and lanterns greet you in front of the 16 foot wooden doors. The building is perfectly round with views to the ocean and harbor, it is a historic landmark and is now home to the Avalon Theater. Just around the point is a modern beach development Descanso Beach where you can book zipline adventure or rent paddle boards and kayaks and finish your day with a massage by the sea. The Descanso Beach Club and Bar is a great place to enjoy a drink and watch the sun set too.
You can spend a few hours or stay a few days to discover the history, the sports activities and the great food with this surprising little island. Book your time to explore. VisitCatalinaIsland.com
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Lyle & Wendy