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Catalina Island (California) (Photo:Chris Grant/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Catalina Island (California)

Catalina, third largest of the Channel Islands, feels like a world away.

Twenty-two miles west into the Pacific from Los Angeles, the island combines natural beauty with a wide range of amenities and activities. With over fifty miles of shoreline, secluded coves and dramatic views, this destination has earned a reputation as "the island of romance."

Fittingly, Avalon, Catalina's mile-square port city, is named for an island paradise in the King Arthur legend. Catalina's most famous landmark, the 1929 Art Deco Casino, dominates the waterfront. Rows of shops, restaurants and hotels stretch along Crescent Avenue and up into narrow streets dotted with bougainvillea-framed bungalows. Most of the town's attractions are within comfortable walking distance from the pier - snorkeling, kayaking, dining and shopping.

About Catalina Island (California)


Pro

The island's casino is still in exquisite shape; its Avalon Theatre debuted the first films with sound

Con

There's not much for free; you'll pay for tours, water sports, scooter rentals and even the beach

Bottom Line

Once the retreat of the rich and famous, Catalina still offers vacationers an afternoon of amusement


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The good news is that Catalina's charms should be enjoyed for years to come. The Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, a non-profit organization, owns and manages over 80% of the 76-square-mile island, a gift from the family of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. The Conservancy's holdings include Catalina's rugged interior and most of the coastline. Its goal is to restore and preserve the island's natural state.

Catalina is a relaxed, friendly island with a Mediterranean feel, easy to explore on foot or by golf cart. Its rich marine life and clear calm waters make it a popular destination for water sports, from fishing and wake boarding to snorkeling and kayaking.

Where You're Docked

Catalina's port is too small for cruise ships. Instead, ships anchor outside the harbor and tender passengers to Green Pleasure Pier in the center of downtown Avalon.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The U.S. dollar is the official currency and ATMs are plentiful.

Language

English.

Best Cocktail

Buffalo Milk: A frothy blend of vodka, Kahlua, fresh banana and coconut milk served at Armstrong's Fish Market (the drink is named in honor of a herd of some 300 buffalo, descendants of animals brought here as movie extras in 1925, which still roam Catalina's interior).