22 minutes by car + 1 hour by ferry to Los Angeles International Airport
Catalina Island, which also goes by the name Santa Catalina, or just plain Catalina, is an island off the coast of the state of California in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The island is about 22 miles south-southwest of Los Angeles, California, and it is 22 miles long and 8 miles across. Avalon is an incorporated city on the island, and the southernmost city in Los Angeles County. In the 2010, the city registered a population was 3,728. The climate in Avalon is mild, with warm temperatures all year round.
Catalina Island is a favorite getaway destination among Los Angelinos. Visitors can see the reefs and shipwrecks of the island on glass-bottom boats, and snorkel and scuba dive. Lover’s Cove, located east of Avalon, and Descanso Beach, located to the west of the Casino, are popular diving areas. You’ll see flying fish in the area, and bright orange Garibaldi damselfish. You can also go parasailing if the fancy strikes you. There are jeep and bus tours of the island’s interior. The Catalina Island Visitor Center offers services to assist tourists and other visitors with information.
The Catalina Casino has been a central part of Santa Catalina Island ever since it opened 80 years ago. The gigantic twelve-story building is divided into a magnificent grand ballroom and movie theatre. The Casino dominates the Avalon scenery from its prominent location at the edge of Avalon Bay. The name comes from the Italian language, where “casino” means a “place to gather.” However, there is no gambling at this facility.
Transportation to and from Catalina is primarily provided by passenger ferries. The trip from Orange County in Newport Beach and Dana Point takes approximately one hour, as well as from Los Angeles County in Long Beach and San Pedro. Also available are helicopter rides from Long Beach or San Pedro. Many cruise lines have also graced the Catalina ports since the 1990s, with Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Lines making it port a regular on their cruises to Baja.
Catalina Airport (AVX), is located 7 miles northwest of Avalon.
Catalina Island is primarily a resort. Most of the oceanfront is pretty much focused on tourism-oriented businesses. Other parts of the island on the basin are made up primarily of small structures and multi-level buildings in traditional architectural styles. About 1 million people visit Catalina every year, and cruise ships visit frequently as well.