Whether you’re on land or under the sea, there are plenty of things to see around Catalina Island. The best way to get to many of these special sites is by taking a Custom Catalina Tour, offered by Catalina Taxi and Tours. Catalina has 54 miles of coastline, and it stretches about 22 miles in length from its East End to the West End. Create your own Custom Catalina Tour and decide which places your island adventure will take you. Read on to learn about 11 Things to See on a A Custom Catalina Tour:
1.) American Bison—Wild, wild west: There is a healthy herd of more than 100 American bison living on Catalina Island. Back in 1924, a group of these majestic mammals were brought to the island for a Zane Grey film. The film crews left, but the herd stayed. Today, bison roam the interior of Catalina, and you can take a tour to see them up close. But don’t get too close. Bison safety tips include staying at least 100 feet away from these giant animals; they can weigh as much as one ton and run as fast as 35 miles per hour! Taking pictures from your tour vehicle is a great way to stay safe while marveling at Catalina’s bison.
2.) Island Fox—Foxy Lady: Unlike the bison, the Island Fox is an endemic species on Catalina. Seeing one of these canids is special. Though most fox species are nocturnal, you can catch a glimpse of Island foxes on daytime tours. These cute creatures have no natural predators on the island, allowing them to be active during daylight hours. An interior tour might be your best chance at seeing an Island fox.
3.) Airport in the Sky—(with cookies): Maybe you travel to the island by boat, but there’s another way to arrive on Catalina: by air. While it’s mostly used for general aviation, it’s a great tour stop on the mountain tops of Catalina. Completed in 1941, this airport features a 3200-foot runway. It also is home to Airport in the Sky Restaurant which offers giant, world-famous cookies. About a 30-minute drive from Avalon, this is a unique spot to stop on a custom tour.
4.) The Inn on Mt. Ada—The House that Wrigley Built: It is noted that Mt. Ada is the first spot on the island to see dawn in the wee hours and the last spot to see the final glow of twilight. It’s no wonder why William Wrigley, Jr. chose this special place to build a family mansion a century ago. The Wrigley family used this home as their summer cottage, a respite from Chicago. It was designed by the same architect who designed Wrigley Field (though it’s rumored that Mrs. Wrigley had some hand in design). Now a bed and breakfast with 6 guest suites, the Inn is a great stop with gorgeous views on your custom Catalina tour.
5.) Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens—A Not-so-secret Garden: The Wrigley family has left quite a legacy on the island, and they helped to ensure that 88% of the island remains protected through a private land trust. Some of the beauty that they were protecting is showcased in the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens. The gardens, an idea of Mrs. Wrigley’s, place special emphasis on displaying endemic plant life. The gardens feature many plants endemic to Catalina including St. Catherine’s Lace, Catalina Liveforever, Catalina Bedstraw, Catalina Figwort, Catalina Manzanita, and Catalina Mountain Mahogany. See these plants and more on your custom tour stop to these lovely gardens.
6.) The Isthmus—From Sea to Shining Sea: There is nothing quite like walking from one side of the island to the other. The Isthmus on Catalina is an 842-yard section of land that joins the smaller west end of the island to the main part of Catalina. The charming town of Two Harbors is on the leeward side. You can walk from Isthmus Cove to Catalina Harbor as part of your adventuring on a custom Catalina tour.
7.) Shark Harbor—surfers’ paradise: This small beach on the southwest side of the island is adjacent to Little Harbor campground. A sandy little cove, Shark Harbor is one of the more rugged parts of the Catalina coastline, but its views are beautiful. Local surfers may hit the waves here, but the rocky waters may not be a suitable swimming spot for less skilled swimmers. Instead, take your custom tour to a picnic on the beach here.
8.) The Casino—A Gathering Place: Pulling into Avalon Harbor, it’s hard not to miss the round, iconic structure called the Casino. This largest building on the island houses a movie theater and a ballroom. Under the direction of William Wrigley Jr. and with help from architect David M. Renton, the Casino was completed in May of 1929. A custom tour through Avalon would allow for some great art deco photo ops all around the Catalina Casino.
9.) The Catalina Chimes Tower—Music all day: Just across from the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel, overlooking Avalon Bay sits the Catalina Chimes tower. Since 1925, the bells have been ringing every quarter hour from 8am to 8pm. This Spanish-style structure houses Westminster chimes, and the tower was a gift to Avalon from—you guessed it—Mrs. Wrigley. Take a tour and stop up by the tower to hear the charming chimes and to get another great perspective of Avalon.
10.) Catalina Country Club and Golf Course—9 Greens: Even if you’re not going to play the 9-hole course on Catalina, it is something to see while on the island. The course meanders through canyons and offers cool views. The adjacent Catalina Country Club was originally built for Wrigley’s Chicago Cubs to practice for spring training in the 1920s. It is now a beautifully restored early California architectural building with great spots for pictures on a custom tour stop.
11.) Ocean Experiences—Under the Sea: You don’t have to stay on land when you’re touring Catalina. Ocean experiences are offered for tours in the form of scuba and snorkel all around island waters. Swim through resplendent kelp forests, and spot some of the most colorful fish in town: bright orange Garibaldi. Look for giant black sea bass, bat rays, and sea lions too. There is so much to see off the coast of Catalina.
From windward to leeward side, Catalina offers so many beautiful, unique sights to see. Custom tours are such a unique way to see all of the beauty and history that Catalina has to offer. Whether you want to cover Avalon from end-to-end, or you want to explore all of Catalina and its West End, reach out to Catalina Taxi and Tours to book the best itinerary for you.