"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
Just 22 miles California coast is the quaint island of Catalina. The main city is Avalon, roughly one square mile offering memorable activities for every member of the family. Here are ten good reasons to visit Catalina:
1) TikiFest - Experience Hawaii without having to fly five hours. A one-hour boat ride aboard the Catalina Express (www.catalinaexpress.com) from Long Beach takes visitors to Avalon. From August 18 to the 20th, "Embrace Luau Explosion" features a full Hawaiian Luau and show performed by a cast of 50 Polynesian dancers and musicians. For additional information and tickets, visit www.catalinatikifest.com.
2) Take a submarine ride to see the island's underwater life. Come face-to-face with bright orange garibaldi, spotted calico bass, urchins, rockfish and bat rays by cruising five feet beneath the surface. Tickets are available on the long green pier.
3) Try a buffalo burger at the Busy Bee Cafe overlooking the boats moored in Avalon harbor, or walk out to Pebbly Beach and dine at the Buffalo Nickel restaurant.
4) See the island on horseback. Ride on trails where Native Americans and pirates traveled hundreds of years ago. The Catalina Stables rents horses for half-hour, one-hour, or two hour rides [Located at 600 Avalon Canyon Road - (310) 510-0478].
5) Play 9 holes of golf at the Country Club. Keep an eye out for buffalo and wild boar [Located at 1 Country Club Drive - (310) 510-0530]. For families, there is miniature golf at the Golf Gardens [Next to the Island Bus Plaza - (310) 510-1200].
6) Museum buffs will enjoy the Catalina Island Museum to discover more than 7,000 years of history presented in visually exciting exhibits [Located on the ground floor of the Catalina Casino].
7) See the island at your leisure by renting a gas powered golf cart or bicycle. Cruise up to the old Wrigley mansion, built by the chewing gum magnate. It's now Mt. Ada, a bed and breakfast and one of the best view spots on the island. Car and bike rentals can be rented on the corner of Metropole and Crescent. Phone: 310-510-0111.
8) Rent a boat and see the island by sea. Joe's Rent A Boat has motorboats of various sizes, kayaks, pedal boats and paddleboards [Located on the green Pleasure Pier and open daily from April to October - (310) 510-0455].
9) Tour the inland of the island by following the 1800's stagecoach route for a 31-mile journey along the windward shoreline to El Rancho Escondido, Wrigley's Arabian horse ranch. Visit the Catalina Island Fox Habitat, unique Airport-In-The-Sky runway, and the Conservancy Nature Center. Tickets for the Inland Tour are available at Discovery Tours, or go to www.visitcatalina.org.
10) Summer Beach Bingo begins at 6 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday, from June 27 to August 30, at the South Beach lifeguard stand. Visitors can bring beach chairs and a picnic dinner and buy a card for $1 to win great prizes. The proceeds go to the Avalon Emergency Relief Fund. Contact: (310) 510-1987.
Picturesque Avalon offers family recreational excitement, tranquil beauty and images of the historical past. For more information on Catalina Island go to www.Catalina.com.