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.





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.



This baby seal was stuck on Avalon Harbor sea wall rocks after the tide went down. She didn’t know what to do and was waiting for her mother. We couldn’t wait for high tide to see the uniting of mother and daughter but we learned that the story had a happy ending and that they both swam away.


Avalon Harbor during an off-season day. The boat in the foreground is tied to our 30 foot Avalon private mooring. The Catalina Casino is in the background. Inside the Casino is a world-class dance hall and a lovely Movie Palace where the latest movies are shown.


A member of a group of plein air artists from the east coast who have come to Catalina to  paint the outdoor scenes. Catalina Island offers an unending source of visual opportunities for both painters and photographers. As you can imagine, many movies have been filmed on the island.





Walking along Casino way with the bay in the background and with a cruise ship at anchor. Avalon is a popular stop for cruise boats. Casino Way, at night, is one of the most romantic walks we’ve ever taken.






A sleepy afternoon on the beach in Avalon, one of two beaches we visit. Here, there is a lifeguard on duty.. One of the reason families love both Avalon Beach and Descanso Beach is that they are relatively safe beaches without the large rolling waves of the mainland beaches.





The float platform to swim out to and dive off of. A great thing  to do on a summer afternoon. And it’s not just for kids –





For those who prefer a more relaxed holiday there is a lively bar overlooking Descanso Beach. Try the same bar at night under a full moon shining off the water. It is memorable.






Ocean adventurers returning on rental kayaks to Descanso Beach.

Sunset from the patio of our Catalina Home, Unit C-59 at the Bahia Vista Condominiums. Our guests always leave us nice comments on this view.

Avalon at sunset. This is the view from from the patio of our Avalon, Catalina  rental condominium at the magic hour, just before the lights of the village are turned on..

We love sharing pictures of our experiences on Catalina Island. If you have been a guest renting our Avalon, Catalina Island condominium and would like to share your pictures, please send them in.

Thank You