Santa Catalina Island, California

Santa Catalina Island is a small, rocky island found in the United States. It is considered as one of the hidden beauties of the large country. It is part of the state of California and is nowhere near the bustling economy and lifestyle of modern America.


This small, idyllic island, known to most California natives as just Catalina Island or Catalina, is located off the coast of Los Angeles, California. The island is only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide, which means it is definitely a tiny piece of paradise in the country. It is located at specfically 35 kilometers at the south-southwest region of Los Angeles, and peaks at Mt. Orizaba. Santa Catalina Island is also part of the Channel Islands of California, an archipelago still within Los Angeles jurisdiction. The island is currently said to be under the ownership and rule of Cataline Island Conservancy. Due to its small size, the diminutive island is home to a population of only 3,000, 85% of which reside in Avalon, the only city in the island. The other 15% are scattered all over the Two Harbors, a town located at the northern part of the island.


Before Santa Catalina was developed as a tourist destination in the heart of Los Angeles, California, it was the native land of a people called Tongva tribe or Gabrielino tribe, which is known for their affinity with mining and trading. These people lived in what is now called the villages of San Pedro and Playa del Rey near the island, and used the Catalina island as a center of trade. The island was originally called Pimu or Pimungna. One of the springs found in the island is called Torqua Springs, which was named after Chief Torqua, the last chief of the Santa Catalina historic tribes. Even in the past, the biggest parts of the Catalina Island population was mostly found at the present-day Avalon.
The small California island was also visited by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, an explorer from Portuguese who was on his way to Spain when he came across the island. It was then that the island became captured under Spanish rule and was initially called San Salvador. It was later on renamed by another explorer fro Europe who goes by the name of Sebastian Vizcaino. The island was then named after St. Catherine of Alexandria.


The Santa Catalina Island tourism is quite alive, despite the very small size of the place. In fact, its tourism portal, the Catalina airport, is actually well-recognized as one of the best airports in the United States. It is called “Airport in the Sky,” with a runway right on top of a mountain.
Santa Catalina Island is a very popular island in California and has been repeatedly referred to in pop culture and have lured in famous personalities throyghout its history. Some famous personalities who visited or resided in the island include Ronald Reagan, radio vocalist Jack Owens, English actor David Nixen, actor Errol Flyn, and even Marilyn Monroe, who lived in Avalon with her first husband for a brief period. It is also said that Lisa Marie Presley threw a famous ring worth around $500,000 formerly owned by Elvis Presley himself overboard a yacht in a fight with her boyfriend, actor Nicolas Cage. The island has also been mentioned in the movie Lethal Weapon, the Dan Brown novel Deception Point, among several other references.
Santa Catalina is also made even more popular due to the entrance of Philip Wrigley and the Wrigley company into its business and trade industry. Wrigley invested some of his company’s shares to form the Conservancy, which currently governs the island. The Conservancy is now responsible for protecting and preserving the island to make it attractive for tourists.
One of the most popular places that can be visited by tourists in Santa Catalina Island is the Art Deco dance hall. The dance hall goes more popularly by the name of Casino, which was built back in 1929. The dance hall is attractively surrounded by the sea on practically all sides and has 12 stories. The Casino, however, is no longer a casino. It used to be used as a ballroom and a high school, though now it has been further developed and now houses the Avalon Theater, several dance floors, the world’s largest circular ballroom at 180 feet in diameter, and breathtaking views of the surrounding sea from the balcony. The Avalon theater can hold around 1,150 people and features regular performances from singers and dancers and sometimes also movies.
Santa Catalina is also undoubtedly a favorite summer destination due to its beaches and the other nature-based activities the island offers. Tourists in Santa Catalina can enjoy an entire day spent hiking or mountain biking around the island. Another must to do at the island is to ride the glass bottom boats to afford a closer look at the reefs as well as the shipwrecks in the sea area around the island. Tourists can also enjoy these at closer perspectives by scuba diving or snorkeling. Divers should definitely try the Lover’s Cove, a diving haven east of torn and near the Descanso Beach. There divers can marvel at the rare flyingfish species and the Garibaldi bright orange fish. Surfers, on the other hand, should head to Ben Weston Beach and Shark Harbor.
Other exciting tourist activities that can be found on the island include visiting museums such as the Catalina Island Museum, which offers impressive displays of collections collected throughout 7,000 years of Native America. There tourists can marvel at pictures, potteries, tiles, and several others.

Environment and Wildlife

Despite the unquestionable beauty of Santa Catalina island, it is said to be a geographic anomaly because instead of breaking away and getting separated from the mainland, the island was simply formed by tectonic plates that heaved upwards. The area in the island is said to be rich in silver and quartz, which is supported by the fact that at certain parts of thr island, the sand has a silver and grey quality to it.
Santa Catalina Island is also loved by environment and nature lovers because of its rich ecological diversity. It is the dwelling of thousand different species of animals, plants, and flowers. The island also has 15 taxa that cannot be found anywhere else. Several of the flora species found on the island are also exclusively found in the island. These include the Cataline manzanita, Catalina mahogany, Catalina dudleya, Santa Catalina bedstraw, Santa Catalina Island ironwood, and the likes.
Animal species also thrive in the island. Santa Catalina is the home of the Island Fox, the California Ground Squirrel or some of its subspecies, the Santa Catalina Ornate Shrew and the Deer Mouse. Bald Eagles were also found on the island though this species is still being restored by the Conservancy.

Santa Catalina Island, California

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