Beautiful Catalina Island, where nature and time stand still, waits 26 miles across the ocean from Los Angeles. Swimming, boating, diving, fishing and kayaking along the island shores is a wonderful experience. Hiking the Island’s mountainous trails is adventurous. Our water is clean and the air is fresh. The Island has been closed to most visitors this Spring because of the Covid-19 virus.

Now, the Avalon City Council has re-opened Avalon, the only Catalina Island city for business as of June 1, 2020, including our home, which we occasionally share with guests.

Catalina is a wonderful place to visit but unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 Virus, things will be somewhat different this year. If you have never visited us before, here is what you can expect on a possible vacation to the Island and, if you have visited in the past, here are some changes you can expect this year.

Whale crosses in front of our Catalina Express boat to Avalon.

It is still a great trip coming over and the ocean is as fascinating as ever. You might see a whale or a school of dolphins. However, it is expected that boats will carry only 50 to 75 percent of normal passengers because of social distancing. It may be more difficult to make or change a reservation. You may wait in line a little longer than usual to board the boat because of social distancing. While you might be able to find outside seating on the boat, most seating is inside. Facemasks are required in the terminal and on board the boats.

After parking your car, you will enter a Boat terminal building with many other people checking in and waiting to board. There will be hand sanitizers at all boat terminals and on board.

If you are arriving by private boat, Avalon moorings are available on a first come first served basis, but no side ties are allowed. There is limited shore boat service and the fuel dock has limited hours. As of this writing, there is no helicopter service to the island.

Swimming in Avalon Harbor.

If you are our guest, upon arrival to the Island we will provide transportation from the boat to our home, but this will require that you ride in an enclosed public taxi to our home. Of course, you can always choose to walk. Our home is 3 blocks to the beach, but 5 blocks to the boat. Whichever you choose, you should wear a facemask.

Once you arrive at our building, while there are outdoor steps, you may choose to ride in an enclosed elevator. There is a short inside hallway leading to the front door of our home. When you arrive at our home, there will be a lockbox on the door, containing the key to our home. The combination to the lock box will be sent with our welcoming letter.

Inside our home, you will find everything cleaned and sanitized for you. Open the siding doors to our large terrace and you will be surrounded with fresh air, inside and outside.

We have taken extensive measures to clean our home:

• All staff members and vendors are required to wear PPE (masks and gloves) when entering our property or in the presence of a guest.
• There will be 24 hour spacing between reservations to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing is performed.
• Housekeepers will use cleaning products and protocols that meet with CDC guidelines and are approved for COVID-19 mitigation.
• Packaging linens and towels in plastic protectors during transportation until installation in the bedroom/bathroom.
• Sanitizing mattresses, pillow protectors and other soft furniture surfaces after guest stays.
• Disinfecting hard surfaces (floors, counters, mirrors, shower glass, etc.) with virucide/sanitizing cleaner prior to use of streak free products.
• Disinfecting high touch items (door handles, light switches, remotes, blind chains, etc.)
• Washing dishes/utensils/silverware in hot water by hand and again in the dishwasher.
• Sanitizing outdoor furniture.
• Providing onsite individually wrapped facemasks, hand sanitizer and virucide/sanitizing cleaner for guest use.

It is likely that our swimming pool and Jacuzzi will have limited and controlled use in an abundance of caution.

Things will be different from usual in our charming City of Avalon. Social distancing will take place. Restaurants are serving “take out” only. Bars are closed. Retail stores are serving curbside only. But the evening walk along the harbor, watching the lights from the bobbing boats, is still is available.

Early evening view from our terrace
Early evening view from our terrace.

Most people we know believe our patio is one of the nicest places to relax and dine on the Island, with our spectacular 180 degree view from the mountains to the ocean. Food can be delivered from Island restaurants through a delivery service or you can pick it up. Check the restaurant section of our website. Prepared food is available from our new Vons market as well as an excellent wine, beer and spirits selection.

Of course, there will be social distancing at our Vons market, a short walk from our home, so shopping may take longer than expected.

Wearing a facemask is mandatory. Face coverings are not required when on a solitary walk but must be worn whenever you encounter another person, so keep the facemask with you when walking or hiking.

Buffalo roam freely in the interior of Catalina Island.

The Dive Park is open, but the Green Pleasure Pier is closed except for the dinghy dock. Crowding and loitering are not permitted anywhere. The Avalon movie palace is closed.
Catalina Conservancy hiking and biking trails are open.

There will be no 4th of July fireworks this year. They may be rescheduled for Labor Day.

Our golf course is open, but limited to only four golfers in a group with a 10 minute minimum between tee times. The Pro shop is closed so bring your own clubs. Rental clubs and rental pull carts are not available. Only one person is allowed per golf cart. The miniature golf course will be open, but with reduced hours. Walk by and check with them.

You can swim, fish, dive, snorkel, boat or kayak in the ocean, but sunbathing is not allowed on the beaches. On the other hand, we have two sunny chaise lounges on our very large terrace.

If you are planning to take the zip line tour, interior of the Island tours, kayak, or dive, make your reservations from the mainland to be certain they are operating when you expect them to be.

On the other hand, the ocean is still inviting, the air is fresh and clean, the fish are swimming, the island foxes are running, the buffalo are roaming and the Island is still a beautiful and special place to be.

So, when our home is not being used by family or guests, we will be enjoying a quieter and lovely summer on our favorite island, swimming, hiking, reading or just relaxing and gazing at the shooting stars in the nighttime Avalon sky.


Picnic table in Avalon Canyon

Catalina Island has had a winter of wonderful, welcome, nourishing rain. After a very long drought, the Island earth and plant life soaked up the rain. For a brief time, our Island plant life was green again. There were actual puddles of water to be seen. Before the moment passed, we decided to photograph an island greener than it has been in a long while. We photographed Avalon and we went into the interior of the Island as far as Airport in the Sky. We thought we would share our pictures with you before the memory fades:




Wild Oxalis blooming on the hillside and by the forgotten foundations of the long gone St. Catherine Hotel at the Descanso Beach Club.







The rains have brought a new freshness to the Hermit Gulch campground.







Buffalo running free in the interior of Catalina Island, showing fresh green against the red clay of the Island earth.






Haypress full of water along the stagecoach road in the interior of Catalina Island. The Catalina Island Conservancy has been importing water  from the mainland for the animal life. Now, with the rains, this is a place for Buffalo and other animals to drink.





Buffalo herds roam wild through the interior of Catalina Island. They are not native to the island. Their great grand-parents were brought to the Island for a film shoot during the silent movie days and just stayed when the movie company left.






Big puddle on the side of the road to Airport in the Sky. Green hills, too. It’s not going to last long, but it’s a nice memory.





Green hills in the interior of Catalina Island. The road in the foreground was built in the 1880’s by the Banning family, who provided stagecoach service. It has been smoothed and taken care of, but it is basically a historic stagecoach road. There are not many left in the West.





Please don’t feed the fox. This rare little Catalina Island Fox hangs out on the dining patio at Airport in the Sky, hoping for a handout. He is hard to resist.






Aeroplane hangar next to the runway on the top of a green mountain. Air passengers flying into Catalina Island’s Airport in The Sky travel down to the City of Avalon by the old stagecoach road.





Out of the interior and into Avalon Canyon, where our  Catalina golf  course hasn’t looked this green in years.







The green hills around Avalon, shot from the Bahia Vista Condominiums, where are home is located.

We took this picture from our patio.  We are hoping  for rain next winter so we can see this again.




Migrating whale rising out of the ocean right in front of us on the Catalina Express boat from Long Beach to Catalina Island.

Southern Californians know that our summer lasts far into Fall. September is actually warmer than August and the nice weather continues halfway through October. Then, after Columbus Day, the weather becomes unpredictable, but generally, nicely sunny. We see television pictures of Eastern or Midwest storms, but we are still using sunscreen. We love the Fall with the great weather and so do our guests, who rent our Catalina Island home.

To give you an idea of what Fall is like on Catalina Island, here are some pictures we took on the Island last Fall.

Many years ago, three palm trees grew at this point. Eventually they were cut down, but the classic Avalon Bay view remains. Locals still call this “Three Palms”.



The angle of the sun changes in Fall and, shooting late in the day, you can appreciate the backlit succulents in the Wrigley Memorial Garden, where it becomes wonderfully moody.








While the Wrigley Memorial Garden offers a chance to see prize succulents, more common varieties are all over the island. Here’s a wild buffalo posing for us next to succulents in the vast interior of  Santa Catalina Island. There are herds of buffalo roaming the island.






The interior of the island is owned by the non-profit Catalina Island Conservancy, whose goal is to keep most of the Island as it was around 1870. Hikers love the island. It has well marked trails, mountains, vistas and a view of the  blue Pacific as a bonus.  Some of the dirt roads are stagecoach roads built back in the 1890’s.





The deer like to come down from the island interior into Avalon.  This  deer family is foraging alongside the road to the Wrigley Memorial Garden and the Catalina Island Golf Course.







With the Pacific waters in Avalon Bay warmer than usual, swimmers are taking advantage, swimming laps across the bay.






This is a section of our Catalina Island Golf Course. Once, it was a world class course, but for some reason it was reduced to 9 holes some years ago.  Golfers play 9 holes one way and then 9 holes back. There is a rumor of plans to restore it to its championship status.






The Catalina Miniature Golf Gardens are right in the middle of Avalon. It is one of the most popular places for families on the Island.





Our movie theatre was built in 1929 – a grand movie palace from an age when silent movies were shown, often with music played on a giant theatre organ. Thanks to the Catalina Island Company and some passionate theatre pipe organ restorers, the Avalon Theatre pipe organ is in first class condition. On weekends, just before the movie, you can enjoy a short theater organ concert.





The brand new Catalina Island Museum  opened last summer.  Indian artifacts, early history of the Island and the interesting story of how William Wrigley Jr., the maker of Wrigley chewing gum, bought the island in 1918 and created most of what the Island is today.  The Wrigley family is still active in the operation, preservation and development of Catalina Island.




Another view of Avalon Bay from the Avalon Casino side of the Bay. Catalina Island is the most important destination for the Los Angeles boating community.  Moorings are provided for boaters, as well as restrooms and showers. It is a lively place to be when the Bay is full of private boats and yachts.




Avalon is located 26 miles off the Pacific Coast, but  it is a different world.  On the other hand, we think it’s nice to know we can fly back to the mainland quickly by Island Express Helicopter Services.

Flying time from our world to the real world  – 15 minutes.



Catalina Casino, the small town of Avalon and across the water, the distant lights of San Pedro Harbor

The voices of a summer night have begun on Catalina Island. We hear them beginning around this time every year. People have come home to discuss their day on the island and maybe party a little, too. It is a happy sound on a warm summer breeze.

Looking across Avalon at night

Looking across Avalon at night from our patio, C-59 at the Bahia Vista. We like to lay back on the chaise lounges at night, look up into the sky and count the shooting stars.


We have been spending a few days in our Bahia Vista condominium home for a few days, enjoying the island, and enjoying the great Catalina weather. Here are some of our photographs we’d like to share with our friends, family, guests and potential guests.



Cataina Express boat to Catalina Island boarding from the terminal next to the Vincent Thomas bridge in San Pedro

Catalina Express Catamaran to Catalina Island,  boarding from the terminal next to the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro




We began our Catalina holiday at the San Pedro Catalina Express Terminal, which was built about four years ago. It replaced an old terminal building, which had been there for over 30 years.  The new building is very modern, with good food and bar service. Sometimes, we leave from the Long Beach Terminal, which has more boats in the winter.

Los Angeles Light leading from the protected harbor to the open sea. It is less than an hour from this point to Catalina Island

The Los Angeles Light and breakwater, which separates the protected harbor from the open sea.





We often see whales and schools of porpoises during the crossing to Catalina, but this time we just enjoyed escaping the heat of the mainland, with a refreshing sea voyage. It is interesting leaving from San Pedro, because it is a major shipping port, with cargo ships arriving from all over the world.


Coming into Avalon, we notice the old and the new boats. A twin masted sailboat and a modern Cruise ship. Catalina is a popular destination for California cruise ships.

Coming into Avalon, we notice the old and the new boats. A twin masted sailboat and a modern Cruise ship. Catalina is a popular destination for California cruise ships and is the major Southern California destination for boaters.





It is less than an hour from the Los Angeles Light to Avalon Harbor on Santa Catalina Island. Boat rides have improved dramatically from the days when we first ventured to the island 30 years ago. The ride is usually smooth and just long enough to enjoy being on the water. For us, the boat ride is part of the fun of the Catalina experience. When we’re on Santa Catalina Island, we’re only 26 miles from the mainland, but we’re in a totally different world.

Paddle boards lined up and waiting for action.

Paddle boards lined up and waiting for action.

That's our mooring out in Avalon bay being used by a friend.

That’s our mooring out in Avalon Bay, being used by a friend.





Avalon has East facing beaches in a protected bay, with a far gentler surf than the West facing beaches of the mainland.

Crepe maker creates a breakfast crepe for us at Descanso Fresh on Descanso Beach

Crepe maker creates a breakfast crepe for us at Descanso Fresh on Descanso Beach

A Breakfast crepe and morning coffee on the beach at Descanso. It is about a 12 minute walk but worth it.

A Breakfast crepe and morning coffee on the beach at Descanso. It is about a 12 minute walk from the Bahia Vista and well  worth it. The cafe opens at 8AM. Go early in the morning before the crowds arrive.

Kayakers getting instruction before paddling out to sea. It is possible to kayak along the coast of the island

Kayakers getting instruction before paddling out to sea. We like to kayak along the coast of the Island, heading North, away from Avalon.



The island is nearly 26 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest point, filled with hiking trails, paved roads for biking and adventuring. We love going into the vast interior of Catalina Island during the cooler weather, but we have friends, who like going at any time of the year. In the the Summer, however,  we like to stay near the water.




Warm water conditions brought a sudden waves of sea crabs the Avalon for a day or two. Very pretty against the blue clear water of the bay

Warm water conditions brought a sudden wave of sea crabs to Avalon for a day or two. Very pretty against the clear water of Avalon Bay. At first, we thought they were the famous Catalina Garibaldi, which look like goldfish.


Bench along Pebbly Beach

Bench along Pebbly Beach Road, where you can sit, stare out to sea and watch for seals and sea birds.


Unattended fishing rods hoping for a catch. Catalina is famous for game fishing.

Unattended fishing rods, hoping for a catch. Catalina is famous for game fishing.









The Avalon swimming platform is out for the summer

The Avalon swimming platform is out for the summer.





Snorkelers viewing the undersea gardens in Lovers Cove, while a boat brings cruise ship visitors back to the ship.







Setting up for the day on Avalon Beach and waiting for the family to arrive. All Avalon public beaches are free to use. There is a small fee to use Descanso Beach.




Avalon sunset

Sunset, viewed from our patio of  Unit C-59 at the Bahia Vista condominiums. At the end of the day, we begin thinking of where to eat dinner. Often, we order “take out, ” and, dining on our deck,  enjoy one of the best views on Catalina Island.

Our most recent visit to the Island was in the middle of June, But we really appreciate that the warm Southern California and  Catalina weather can be enjoyed all the way to the middle of October.




Many years ago, when we first began visiting Catalina Island, we couldn’t find a hotel that was contemporary and suited our needs, as we might today. Eventually, we began renting a condominium. The condo gave us the good-sized space and amenities of a home at the price of a smaller hotel room.

And then, we discovered the condominium we now own. We fell in love with the wonderful unobstructed view over the entire city of Avalon, across to the mountains, to the Catalina Casino, with the sea beyond.

But one question always bothered us: Why couldn’t we find a first-class resort hotel in this wonderful resort years ago? The answer, we discovered, is that there once was a very famous first-class resort hotel, but it was torn down.

St. Catherine Hotel in Descanso Canyon on the sea is no longer here.

St. Catherine Hotel in Descanso Canyon on the sea is no longer here.


The hotel, the “St. Catherine,” was named after the Patron Saint of Catalina Island. In its day, it was internationally known. Movie stars, athletes, and other famous and important people flocked to the hotel. It was written about, photographed and made newspaper headlines.

The “St. Catherine Hotel” had its own private beach, a very short walk from the world famous Catalina Casino. It had a first class dining room that could seat 1200 people. (We have an old menu in our collection).

St. Catherine Hotel dining room seated 1200 guests

St. Catherine Hotel dining room seated 1200 guests.

The hotel opened on June 28, 1918, on the former estate of the Banning family, some of the original developers of Catalina Island. When William Wrigley Jr. purchased the Island in 1919, the hotel came along with the purchase.

Motion Picturte stars Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Godderd relaxing at the St. Catherine Hotel

Motion Picture stars Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard relaxing near the St. Catherine Hotel.



Great lawn in front of the St. Catherine Hotel. the hotel is gone but the lawn is still there.

Great lawn in front of the St. Catherine Hotel. The hotel is gone, but the lawn is still there.










Unfortunately, with the beginning of World War II, cross-channel boat traffic to the Island was stopped by the Defense Department. The Catalina Island tourist economy came to a halt. The Merchant Marines took over the hotel. After the war ended, there was an attempt to return the hotel to civilian use, but there was much wear and tear. The hotel was very old-fashioned. Many rooms did not have private baths. In 1966, it was decided to tear down the “St. Catherine” and, to this day, it has never been replaced. Suddenly, a world famous hotel simply disappeared.

Nicely landscapeed grounds of the Descanso Beach Club

Nicely landscaped grounds of the Descanso Beach Club.



Today, you can still see the ruins of the old foundation on the hillside overlooking the old hotel’s beach, which has been nicely developed into a private resort beach. It is called the Descanso Beach Club and, to enjoy certain of its facilities, requires a small fee.

Impressive new facilities at the Descanso Beach Club

Impressive new facilities at the Descanso Beach Club.






All the amenities of a hotel are there – except the hotel itself. We have found the restrooms and changing rooms to be very clean and up-to-date. There are showers to wash off the sand. There are no lifeguards watching the beach.






We have enjoyed the very nice beachside bar. There is reasonable food service, an ice cream shop and a few resort shops. A stylish new building is available to host private events.

Kayak rentals are available right on the beach.

Kayak rentals are available right on the beach.


We have also enjoyed renting kayaks and exploring the Island coast, as well as swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the beach. We have not yet tried the private cabanas available for rent nor have we tried the Massages by the Sea.


The Descanso Beach Club is about a 15-minute walk from our condo on flat ground– or you can hire a cab for a few dollars. A free shuttle bus carried people from Crescent Street to the Descanso Beach Club, the last time we visited.


Private cabanas available for rent at the Descanso Beach Club.

Private cabanas available for rent at the Descanso Beach Club.

So, with the Descanso Beach Club, you have available the facilities of a resort hotel by the sea. Then, at the end of the day, you can return to our Bahia Vista condominium, where you will have a totally unobstructed view from the tallest building in Avalon. From our patio, you can watch the sun set behind the western hills, look over the village, across the bay, and, on a clear day, see the distant San Gabriel Mountains on the mainland (snow-capped in the Winter) ….just as we do as often as we can.

Old Banning home in Descanso Canyon before 1917

Old Banning home in Descanso Canyon, which was torn down in 1917 to build the St. Catherine Hotel.

Descanso Beach Club bar where you can sip by the sea

Descanso Beach Club bar where you can sip by the sea.