It was a big hit for the Four Preps, “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin for me.” Located off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island, also called Santa Catalina Island, with its great climate and crystal clear water, is a perfect destination for immersion travelers who love the ocean, water sports, and learning new skills.
Choose from scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, para-sailing, and other activities on or under the water. Take a day or nighttime trip aboard a semi-submersible vessel, and observe Catalina’s marine life (310-510-TOUR), or sign on for a voyage on a glass-bottomed yellow submarine (Catalina Adventure Tours, Inc., special group/senior/combination packages available. 877-510-2888 or 562-432-8828; www.catalinaadventuretours.com).
Snorkeling can be enjoyed by anyone comfortable in the water, including young children. There is also a scuba diving program for the beginner as well as experienced divers. Diving Catalina Island offers introductory dives for those who have never tried scuba, as well as guided scuba tours of the Avalon Underwater Dive Park, and has a full range of equipment rentals (1-877-SNORKEL or 1-87-SCUBA DIVE). Catalina Snorkel & Scuba Adventures, on-site at Lover’s Cove, a protected marine preserve, offers classes, scuba rentals and tours (www.catalinadiveshop.com).
Decanso Beach Ocean Sports & Catalina Island Kayak Expeditions provides kayak and snorkel rentals with instruction by the hour, or day. If you’ve never kayaked, sign up for a lesson and head for the beach. There are guided history kayak tours that run from1 ½ hours to all day. There are also classes for kids, picnic and snorkeling tours, corporate programs, and kayak camping, gear provided (310-510-1226).
Call Catalina Adventure Rafting for exciting trips aboard powerful inflatables, exploring Two Harbors, snorkeling, playing with dolphins, and observing bald eagles, sea caves, and flying fish. They also offer corporate team building activities (www.catalinaoceanrafting.com or 310-510-0211). Or try one of my all-time favorites, the Zip Line Eco Tour at night and check out who’s performing at the Avalon Theater.
Travel to Catalina by boat from San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Marina Del Rey, or Dana Point. By air, Island Express Helicopter service (310-510-2525) departs from Long Beach and San Pedro. For more extensive travel information, hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, dining options, events calendar, and activities map, go to www.catalina.com.
Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau,
P.O. Box 217, Avalon, CA 90704