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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Experiencing L.A. at Avalon, Catalina Island

Catalina Island lies 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It's only 45 minutes by boat, but feels like another world. When I was living out of state several years ago, a roommate thought the photograph above was someplace in France or Italy. He couldn't believe it was in Southern California. 

Back in the 1990's, I took a couple of different day trips with friends to Catalina, spending the day in Avalon - the small city on the island. These photos from Avalon are 20+ years old, but not much has changed since then. It's still a great place to visit. The round trip from Long Beach to Avalon currently runs about $72 per person. Back when I went, we had some sort of "two for one" coupons, which really helped. 

In honor of Labor Day weekend, here are my two suggestions if you head over to Catalina: 

First, go in August or September. Like the rest of coastal California, Catalina experiences "June Gloom" - low coastal fog - in the spring and early summer. You'll have much sunnier skies and nicer weather if you go in August or early September. Plus, the water is generally a little warmer. 

Second: bring a mask, fins, and snorkel. I can't emphasize this enough. Avalon is a nice enough city to walk around and explore, have lunch, and soak in the atmosphere. 

But the snorkeling right off the coast is spectacular - absolutely amazing!

Unlike scuba diving, snorkeling requires no special skills or certification. If you can swim, you can snorkel. 

I'm reminded of the words of the Hebrew prophet Job “But ask the animals, and they will teach you ... let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."

These underwater pics were taken by a friend last month - while we were serving as volunteer staff at our sons' Boy Scout camp last month at Camp Emerald Bay (located on the other end of the island). 

You'll find similar conditions - with incredible snorkeling - right off of Avalon at Lover's Cove.

Handy hint: bring a little bag of frozen peas. Fish, especially Garibaldi, love 'em. Here's a link to a previous blog post on these amazing fish. 

Water temperature last month was 70-72 degrees. In late summer, a "spring" (short sleeve) wetsuit might be nice to have, but certainly not necessary. 

And yes, you can rent wetsuits - along with mask, fins, and snorkel - on Catalina. 

Found this video on snorkeling in Lover's Cove. Gives a great idea what to expect.  

Catalina Island is technically part of Los Angeles County - but really feels like another world. 

A final shot of Avalon. There are several other things to do on the island (bus tour of the interior of the island, zip-line, mountain biking, glass bottom boat tour, etc). While these all sound pretty neat, I would recommend checking the costs ahead of time. Most of these other activities tend to be - unfortunately - quite pricey.   

In my opinion, your best bet is a walking tour of the city, and snorkeling at Lover's Cove. 

One of the most unique ways to experience Los Angeles. 

View Avalon, Catalina Island in a larger map

© 2012


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice pics -