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Avalon/Catalina Basics

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Scenes of Catalina

Fast Facts: Avalon & Catalina Island


Santa Catalina Island is one of the eight Channel Islands located off the Southern California coast. With a year-round population of only 3,500 people--the vast majority of whom live in Avalon--the island's population swells to over 10,000 people a day in tourist season.

The island has an interesting contemporary history. William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate, purchased the island in 1919. To make the investment pay off, his Santa Catalina Island Company focused on attracting tourists from Southern California to the island. He built the Avalon Casino in 1928-9, and his Chicago Cubs played spring training games in Avalon from 1931 to 1951.

In 1972, members of the Wrigley family established the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Santa Catalina Island. Today, the Conservancy owns chunks of Avalon, most of Catalina's interior and 48 miles of its coastline.

The mainstay of Catalina's economy is tourism.

Catalina enjoys a moderate marine climate, with average summer temperatures in the 70s F (about 27° C). The sun shines 267 days a year in Avalon.


Avalon/Catalina Map


First Impressions


Avalon Casino

Avalon, the principal town on Santa Catalina Island, rises behind a small harbor filled with large and small sailing craft. A number of condo developments can be found north of the harbor. One of Catalina's great charms is its unusual blend of built-up pleasure port and unspoiled, wild interior.

Catalina's infrastructure does not allow cruise ships to dock in Avalon, so your ship will drop anchor in the harbor and you will be transported ashore by one of the eight Shore Boats operating out of Avalon. You will be dropped off at the Green Pleasure Pier, which is at the center of aquatic activity in Avalon. The Green Pleasure Pier (it really is painted green) faces Crescent Avenue, which is the 4-block wide shoreside center of town.

On either side of the pier you'll find a shallow beach; as you walk from the Green Pleasure Pier toward town, South Beach is to the left of the Pier, and Middle Beach is to the right of the Pier. Just be aware that while it's OK to lie on the sand, you don't want to swim in the harbor's water. A report in June 2011 by the Natural Resources Defense Council listed Avalon as having one of the 10 most chronically polluted beaches in the United States. The beach fails state health standards so often that warning signs are posted much of the summer. The pollution is caused by the city's sewer system, made of century-old clay and metal pipes. The water from the island's desalinization plant is used for waste water in the town, and the saline water is also contributing to the problems with the clay and metal pipes.

There are a number of public rest room facilities in town; they can be found at the Boat Terminal on Pebbly Beach Road; on Casino way, as you make your way to the Casino building; at Descanso Beach; at the Island Tour Plaza; and along Avalon Canyon Road, as you make your way to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Gardens.

There are many changes afoot in the town, as Avalon upgrades it tourism infrastructure. The Descanso Beach Club has unveiled a new facility, which includes Descanso Fresh, a gourmet espresso bar and ice cream shop, as well as a new indoor/outdoor beachfront venue. And a new Catalina Island Museum is being built on Metropole Street. Slated to open in 2015, the museum will feature 11,000 square feet of exhibit space, and feature its collection of Catalina landscape paintings, pottery, vintage photographs, archival documents and Native American artifacts.

Today, as in most of California, Santa Catalina Island is facing a severe water shortage that is resulting in water rationing and other measures that could have a devastating effect on its tourism industry. Water usage has been mandated to be cut by 25 percent, and if drought conditions continue, authorities may be forced to make additional draconian cuts. Business leaders say that if that happens, restaurants may have to serve meals on paper and plastic plates, cups and utensils, and hotels may have to turn away customers. And although it looks like the seasonal El Nino will bring lots of rain to Southern California in late 2015 and into 2016, you still have to use Catalina's fresh water resources wisely.

Avalon is a very walkable city, and after you've explored the city and the interior, played a round of golf or spent your time on the beach, you can relax with a drink at one of the restaurants or bars along Crescent Avenue, just behind the Green Pleasure Pier.


Time Zone


Santa Catalina Island, located in Los Angeles County, is on Pacific Time, eight hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time.

USA flag Avalon Local Time
 


Language


English is universally spoken on Catalina. Some of the shopkeepers in Avalon also speak Spanish.


Dealing with Money in Avalon


Currency



dollar bill

The currency of the United States is the U.S. dollar, and it is printed on bills in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins include the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, fifty cent piece and dollar.

Banks and ATMs

There is one bank branch on Catalina Island: US Bank, at 303 Crescent Avenue. The ATM at this location often runs out of funds on Cruise Ship days.

ATM machines can be found at the following locations in Avalon:

  • US Bank, at their branch at 303 Crescent Avenue. They also have a standalone ATM on South Beach at Claressa Avenue.

  • Green Pleasure Pier, across from the Catalina Island Visitors Bureau office as you head toward shore.

  • Discovery Tours Information Center on Catalina Street (the extension of the Green Pier).

  • Avalon Casino building, in the Catalina Island Museum.

  • Catalina Visitors Country Club, inside the facility.

  • Metropole Market Place at Metropole Avenue and Crescent, inside the Arcade.

  • Abe's Liquor Store, located at 122 Sumner Avenue

  • Cabrillo Mole Boat Terminal on Pebbly Beach Road, across from the ticket office

Avalon ATM Map


Map icon

See our Avalon ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs.


Weather


Avalon Harbor

Catalina boasts a year-round Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny days and cool evening breezes.

In the summer, the average high temperature is in the mid- to low-80s F, with the nights cooling down into the mid-60s. The winters are quite mild, with average highs in the high-60s. On average, the sun shines 267 days a year, and the island only gets around 12 inches of rain annually.

Catalina's water temperatures vary seasonally, from a low in the mid-50s F in the winter to a high in the low-70s F in the summer months.


Avg temperatures

Average Precipitation

Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Avalon

Most of the hotels and resorts on Catalina offer Wi-Fi, but it's only accessible to their guests. And while there aren't any Starbucks on Catalina Island, there are some good alternatives:

Wi-Fi Hotspots

  • Descanso Beach Club offers complimentary Wi-Fi in their restaurant and bar, as well as in their private Cabanas and Lounge Chairs. It's a favorite of both visitors and locals, and a popular escape from downtown Avalon during the summer season. Located at 1 Descanso Ave. Phone: (310) 510-7410

  • Cafe Metropole offers free Wi-Fi with purchase in their restaurant and bar. Located at 113 Metropole Ave. Phone: (310) 510-9095

  • Bluewater Grill offers free Wi-Fi with purchase in their restaurant and bar. Located at 306 Crescent Ave. Phone: (310) 510-3474

  • Sandtrap Restaurant & Bar offers free Wi-Fi with purchase in their restaurant and bar. Located at 501 Avalon Canyon Rd. Phone: (310) 510-2505

  • Buffalo Nickel offers free Wi-Fi with purchase in their restaurant. Located at 57 Pebbly Beach Rd. Phone: (310) 510-1323

  • CC Gallagher, 523 Crescent Ave. Offers complimentary Wi-Fi with purchase. CC Gallagher's is an interesting place, with a bar featuring a good collection of wine, sake and beers, plus sandwiches, salads and soups, sushi, baked goods and yummy decadent desserts. Phone: (310) 510-1652

Internet Cafes

  • Avalon Public Library, 215 Sumner Avenue, offers public access Internet computers with printers. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Phone: (310) 510-1050.

Avalon Internet Access Map


Map icon

See our Avalon Internet Map for the locations of the above facilities.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services


Customers of the four major U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Avalon:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service covers Avalon and most of the island. It's said to be the best on Catalina.
Data services: Verizon offers 4G LTE and 4G LTE Extended services on Catalina, and it's available on most of the island.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services coverage in Avalon.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service covers Avalon and most of the island.
Data services: AT&T offers 4G service covering almost the entire island.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage in Avalon.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service covers Avalon directly, and most of the island through off network roaming.
Data services: Sprint offers 3G service in Avalon, as well as half of the island through off network roaming.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage in Avalon.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service covers Avalon and the surrounding residential area.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service in Avalon and the surrounding residential areas.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage in Avalon.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Avalon Telephone Information

Canadian cell phones used in the U.S. work seamlessly south of the border, and just like back home.

The Country Code in the U.S. is 1, just like in Canada.

The Area Codes used in Avalon are 310 and 424.

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Woman with a cell phone

Local Holidays, Events & Festivals


Look for the following local festivals and events taking place in Avalon and Catalina Island in 2017:

  • Catalina Island Conservancy Marathon/10K/5K/Kids Run, Saturday, March 11. Races take place through the island's rugged interior, featuring spectacular vistas and special challenges.

  • 8th Annual Cafe Art Fair and Exhibition, Friday, April 14 through Easter Sunday, April 16. This 3 day event on Crescent Avenue, along the waterfront, will have more than 40 artists and vendors, entertainment and fun for all ages! 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.

  • Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. A day of green living displays, organic food, eco-demonstrations, family activities and music. Free entry to the Wrigley Memorial.

  • Avalon Ball
  • Avalon Ball, Saturday, May 20. This year is the 15th anniversary of the Ball. Dance at the Avalon Casino, featuring big-band music of the 1930s. Hosted by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles.

  • 13th Annual Taste Around of Avalon, Thursday, June 1. This event is the kick-off to the annual Flying Fish Festival. Enjoy the most scrumptious tastes of delectable food or beverages from some of Avalon's finest dining establishments.

  • 5th Annual Avalon Restaurant Week, Friday, June 2 through Thursday, June 8. Several of Catalina's most popular restaurants dish up delicious grub in a variety of specially created prix fixe menus.

  • Summer Beach Bingo, June 27 to September 2(each Tuesday and Thursday at the South Beach Lifeguard stand). Bingo cards are $1 each; winners get fun local prizes.

  • 4th of July Celebration, Tuesday, July 4. Features a golf cart parade down Crescent Avenue, a fireworks display, and a dinner at the Casino.

  • Festival of art
  • 59th Annual Festival of Art, Friday September 15 to Sunday September 17. Artists from around the country exhibit their works of art.

  • 31st Annual Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival, Thursday October 12 through Sunday October 15, and Thursday October 19 to Sunday October 22. Two weekends of jazz performances featuring 30 different smooth jazz stars.

  • 3rd Annual Oktoberfest on the Beach, (Date TBD). Taking place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on South Beach. Entry includes unlimited beer tastings, souvenir beer stein, oompah bands, appetizers, silent auction and more.

  • Catalina Eco-Marathon, Saturday, November 18. The Eco-Marathon starts and finishes in Avalon, and in-between runs through different ecosystems on the Island.

  • Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23. A day to give thanks for the things one has at the close of the harvest season.

  • Winter Wonderland at Descanso Beach Club, Friday, December 1 through Sunday, December 3. Descanso Beach Club turns into a Winter Wonderland complete with ice skating, a bounce house, snowboarding, and a life-size snow globe.

  • Wrigley Mansion
  • The Inn on Mt. Ada Holiday Open House, Saturday, December 9. A holiday open house at the Inn on Mt. Ada. Tour this grand historic home, win raffle prizes donated by local businesses, and even buy a chance to stay the night. Open from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Cruise Port Schedules


Carnival ship in Avalon

Avalon is a popular port for Carnival Cruise Line's Inspiration and Imagination, which make weekly 4-night cruises from the port of Long Beach to Ensenada and Avalon. Other cruise lines visit Avalon on Pacific Coast cruises.

On average, cruise ship passengers will spend around 9 hours in Avalon.

In 2017, Avalon is slated to host 242,100 passengers sailing on 121 ships. For further information, see our Avalon Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017.


Cruise Lines Making Port in Avalon


The following cruise lines will make port in Catalina in 2017:

Carnival icon
Carnival
Princess Cruises  icon Princess Cruises
HAL icon
Holland America
Celebrity
Crystal icon
Crystal Cruises
Regent Cruises
Cruise Ship


       
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