One of the main forms of entertainment on Catalina Island is touring. You can take a bus tour, Jeep tour, glass-bottom boat tour, and more.
The Catalina Island Conservancy offers Jeep Eco-Tours (310/510-2595, www.catalinaconservancy.org, $495/half-day, $795/full day, up to 6 people) for either a half-day or a full day out in the wilds of Catalina. You can go much farther on these tours than you can by yourself—out into the wilderness to see the bison, the wild horses, plant species unique to this one island, and more. Be sure to bring your camera, both for close-ups and for views out toward the sea. On the full-day trips, you’ll get lunch, drinks, and snacks, while on the half-day trip you’ll get snacks and drinks.
For a sedate view of Catalina’s more settled areas as well as it’s road-viewable wilderness, try a Classic Inland Motor Tour (310/510-8687, www.visitcatalinaisland.com, adults $69, children $34.50). This four-hour tour aboard a restored 1950s cruising bus takes you away from the coastline and into the island’s interior via old stagecoach routes. Along the way you’ll see Middle Ranch, the magnificent Arabian horses and Old West mementos of El Rancho Escondido, and the Airport-in-the-Sky Nature Center. A shorter version of this tour is the Skyline Drive (adults $34, children $17), a two-hour trip that takes you up from Avalon to the Airport-in-the-Sky Nature Center along a route cluttered with spectacular vistas of island and ocean.
If you want a guided walking tour of Avalon, consider taking an Avalon Walk-About Tour with Chuck Liddell (310/510-1356 or 310/510-8401, avalonwalkabout [at] yahoo [dot] com, www.geocities.com/avalonwalkabout, adults $10/hour, children $7/hour). Pick a one-hour tour of downtown Avalon ending at the Casino for an easy walk. The two-hour tour can include a variety of routes, most of which require that you climb some moderately steep hills. Or try an evening tour that takes you past the nighttime hot spots of Avalon. Wear comfy shoes for any tour you take, bring a camera, and be prepared to enjoy the narration. Chuck Liddell can tell you all about the places you’re passing as you stroll along.
Another company that offers both land and sea tours of Catalina is Catalina Adventure Tours (877/510-2888, www.catalinaadventuretours.com). Whether you want to board the semi-submersible Nautilus, take a 1–2 hour adventure drive around the island, or get a guided walking view of the botanical garden or the Casino, Catalina Adventure Tours can hook you up.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition