What To Look For On A Private Catalina Island Tour
As you approach Catalina from the mainland, it resembles a mountain range sitting in the ocean. Unlike the Hawaiian islands, Catalina wasn’t formed by volcanoes. It emerged from geologic activity; heated rock pushed the Earth’s mantle to the surface. Hot rock was cooled by the ocean water, forming the beautiful landform we know as Catalina Island. While the island measures about 76 square miles, 90% of the island is protected by the Catalina Island Conservancy. One way to explore the coast, hills, and towns of Catalina is on a Catalina Taxi and Tours private tour. Read on to learn what to look for on a private Catalina Island tour.
A place to play. The island’s interior is a special place. Locals know the perks of island life come not just from strolling the streets of Avalon with an ice cream cone or boating along the coast. A trip into the interior opens up the idyllic world of hillsides, canyons, and virtually untouched natural beauty. Taking a private picnic tour to Haypress Park can be done by Jeep. There’s a small playground at Haypress where kids can play. If you’re too big for slides and monkey bars, there’s a small lake at this spot. It’s a great place for a simple hike too. All that activity can make you work up an appetite; on a picnic tour, you can enjoy a freshly packed picnic lunch, provided by one of Avalon’s local restaurants.
Beautiful bison. American bison were a major resource for Native American populations—for food, clothing, shelter, and tools. Although Native people once inhabited the island, buffalo are not native to Catalina. A small herd was brought over to the island in the 1920s for a film. The herd on the island is now monitored by the Catalina Island Conservancy in order to maintain the island’s ecological health. There are now around 100 bison roaming freely around the island’s interior. They’re a sight to see. But do be sure to maintain a safe distance from bison, and respect their space.
Something foxy. In addition to big bison, you may also see a cute little Catalina Island fox, one of the smallest canid species in the world; they’re about the size of a house cat! In Native American lore, the fox was considered a sacred animal—a pet of the sun and a clever spirit. These adorable foxes are descendants of the mainland gray fox, and they are found only on Catalina (other Channel Islands have their own subspecies of fox). Unlike nocturnal gray foxes, these animals have no natural predators, making it possible to see them from dusk to dawn. Spotting one will make your day.
Mountaintop runway. The Airport in the Sky is just about 10 miles out of Avalon. This airport allows aircraft to land near the island’s highest point. A runway was built back in the 1940s by blasting and leveling two hills, then filling the canyon in between them, and it has since been majorly restored. Before the Airport in the Sky, only seaplanes would land around Catalina. Now, you can ride up to see the 3000-foot runway, check out views around the island, and even get a bite to eat or a souvenir at DC3 Gifts and Grill.
Views for Days. Catalina’s beautiful terrain offers some of the most picturesque coastal and mountain views. On a private tour, you can catch some of these gorgeous vistas, overlooking the ocean on the back side of Catalina Island. Little Harbor and Shark Harbor present ocean surf and a more majestic natural setting than the downtown beaches of Avalon. Whether you’re aiming to have a romantic excursion or an explorer’s adventure, there are so many opportunities to see some stunning sights on these tours.
A hidden ranch. You can’t see it until you’re about a hundred yards away. Rancho Escondido was built by the Wrigley family in the 1930s beneath the cottonwood trees in the interior. It used to serve as an Arabian horse ranch, but it has more recently been transformed into a vineyard and is a fun stop on any private tour.
An Eagle’s Nest. While it is possible to see an actual eagle on Catalina (a small population of bald eagles inhabit the island), there’s also an old lodge known as Eagle’s Nest along one of the interior roads. Eagle’s Nest was built in the late 1800s and used mainly as a hunting lodge; hunters would head out in parties to hunt eagles, foxes, and goats. Later the lodge served as a way station, with its kitchen, dining facilities, and sleeping quarters working as a nice rest stop on the trail from Catalina to Two Harbors. Though it’s now more of a memento of the island’s history, Eagle’s Nest is still a great point of interest during private tours.