After visiting the San Diego Zoo, the next stop of our cruise vacation was Catalina Island. Located about 22 miles off the shores of San Pedro in California, Santa Catalina Island (its full name) is a fairly isolated community that is still officially a part of LA County. There is but a single town on the entire island and that was as far as I visited. Avalon consists of only about three or four blocks of tourist trap-type stores, lining the beach. Beyond these stores, you’ll find some small and old homes that actually fetch quite the pretty penny — the local real estate office had a few places listed in the seven-figure range. I’d imagine the mansions on the hills would cost even more.
It was good to see a smaller community like Avalon, given that I spend too much time in the big city anyways. It was quiet, laid back, and the waters were crystal clear. In an effort to maintain the environmental integrity of Catalina, the government has severely restricted the use of motor vehicles. You have to get a special license to drive a regular car, so most of the residents get around town in golf carts. It’s like one big gated community… gated with water.
Getting back to the shopping area, the stores are mostly filled with tourist-y things like t-shirts, fridge magnets, and other collectibles. It was fun checking out the unique arts and crafts, though, like figurines carved out of wood, fashioned from empty coconuts, or pieced together from seashells. I should have bought one, but I thought that it would be too fragile to handle the rough ride home. Anyways, here’s a picture of the beachfront boardwalk.
I’d say that Catalina Island was easily the most relaxing port of call. One thing that was particularly interesting was that the port itself was nowhere near large enough to handle our Royal Caribbean cruise ship, so we had to be shuttled back and forth via “tenders”, or smaller boats that carried people and supplies between the cruise ship and dry land.