Santa Catalina Island has been inhabited for at least 8000 years, first by Pimungans. In 1602, on November 24, the eve of St. Catherine's Day, the ship of the a Spanish explorer, Sebastian Viscaino, sighted the Island. Viscaino renamed it Santa Catalina in honour of Saint Catherine.In the years following Catalina was used by otter hunters, smugglers, and ranching, mining and military operations.
In more recent years, Catalina Island was once owned by William Wrigley, Jr. of Wrigley chewing gum fame. He developed Avalon as a resort island destination and brought the Chicago Cubs baseball team (which he owned) to the Island for spring training in the 1930-1950’s.
Over the past century, Catalina has served as Hollywood's exotic backlot more than 500 times, for filming of hundreds of movies and assorted TV shows, documentaries and commercials. In fact, one of the movies filmed in the 1920’s brought 14 buffalo to the Island and left them on the Island. Now a herd of about 150 buffalo roam the island’s interior.
Catalina Island has also been a playground for celebrities, presidents and statesmen. During the 1930s and 40s - the island's heyday - its close proximity to Los Angeles allowed stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Johnny Weissmuller and John Wayne to sail or cruise their boats in the open ocean and reach Avalon harbour in only hours. The restaurants and bars were alive at night with music, which wafted through crowded streets, abundant with people drinking and dancing.
There are a lot of activities available on the island - you can lie on the beach, eat, shop, spot undersea life from a semi-submersible submarine, learn how to kayak or stand-up paddle. You can take a trip into the interior of the island. Venture into Catalina's interior allows hiking, mountain biking and camping. You may even see a shy island fox and spot some of Catalina's bisons. You can book various exploration tours, see the island from a zip line, you can play a miniature golf, tour the casino or look for ghosts on a spirited evening walking tour.
We did not take an advantage of any special tours and attractions - the island was so beautiful that just walking around, sitting on the beach and enjoying the stunning views was a treat.
Below there are some photographs we took on the island.