Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Catalina Island

More about Catalina Island. This photo shows 'Indigo' in Isthmus Cove, one of the Two Harbors that nearly cut the western end of the island in two. ('Indigo' is the boat at the bottom left.) Catalina is large - about 22 miles long, 75 square miles. Mountains rise to just over 2000 feet. Avalon, the famous tourist destination is at the east end of the Island, a little more than 26 miles from Los Angeles. Two Harbors, although a bit closer to LA, is less developed.

Still, this is a place that knows its tourist business. Every cove has well maintained permanent mooring buoys, and the Harbor Patrol will help you anchor and give you a lift ashore if you don't want to use your own dinghy. The water here is crystal clear, great for snorkeling (although too cold for us now at  56 degrees - we need wetsuits!). There are a few places to eat, a single hotel, some guest houses, and a big campground. Passenger boats come and go from Los Angeles frequently, with many visitors. They seem to disperse to rent kayaks, or stand-up paddle boards, or maybe they just turn around an go back to LA.

We chose to hike, and walked the dirt road that meanders from cove to headland - back and forth - for miles. The cursed fog lifted, and we were deliriously happy in the brilliant sun. There were an extraordinary number of birds, and great views from the headlands.

Among all the places we have visited on our two (all-to-brief) trips down the California coast, the Channel Islands are extraordinary. Californians know them, but maybe the rest of us do not. They are immense and critical sanctuaries for so many species. We were a bit reluctant to let loose the mooring and head for San Diego.


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