Catalina Island (whose official, but rarely used, name is Santa Catalina Island) is one of a group of islands in California, lying off the southern coast of the state. It is a popular day trip and vacation destination for locals and tourists. Catalina Island and the surrounding islands are part of Los Angeles County.
Santa Catalina is 22 miles from the mainland, despite the lyrics of the Four Preps' song.
Twenty-six miles across the sea Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me Santa Catalina, the Island of Romance -- "26 Miles", The Four Preps, 1958
Catalina is a world unto itself, a distant refuge from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Southern California. 88% of the island is owned by the Catalina Conservancy  which is chartered with protecting its environment.
Many visitors to the island come from cruises offered by Carnival.
The area codes for Catalina Island are 310 or the soon to be 424.
Santa Catalina Island does have two "cities" if you will, although city is a relative term on Catalina. Neither Avalon nor Two Harbors  are large. Avalon is actually the only incorporated one of the two towns, becoming a city in 1913, and has about 4,000 permanent citizens. Two Harbors is a village of about 300 residents. Two Harbors is primarily a boaters destination, the company manages 720 mooring around the west end of the Island along with campground, restaurant, dive and recreation rentals, 12 room bed and breakfast and a general store.
Catalina Flyer, from Newport Beach to Avalon. Phone: 800-830-7744, . See website for scheduled departures.
Catalina Classic Cruises,From San Pedro to Avalon. Toll free: 800-641-1004, Phone: 495-3565, . Check website for schedule. Round trip fares - Adult: $70, Children (2-11): $55, Seniors (55+): $64, Infants (under 2): $5.
Catalina Express Ferry, from Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point to Avalon. There is also a boat from San Pedro to Two Harbors. Phone: 800-481-3470, . Fares vary by departure point. See website for prices and schedule.
Catalina-Marina del Rey Flyer, No longer in service
Private boat - Avalon and Two Harbors have mooring facilities and services. There are also many coves around the island that have moorings or anchorages. The Catalina website  has details about anchorage and mooring points around the island.
Walking - Most visitors to Catalina usually do their touring on foot.
Bicycle - There are several bicycle rental agencies on the island or you may bring your own bicycle over with you (usually for an extra fee). You can rent bicycles at Brown's Bikes. They have electric bikes, mountain bikes, beach cruisers and tandems. 107 Pebbly Beach Road, 310-510-0986 www.catalinabiking.com
Carts - Golf carts may also be rented on the island.
The Casino, built in 1929 by William Wrigley Jr., is a popular landmark and tourist attraction on the western tip of the Avalon beach. It was the tallest building in Los Angeles County at its completion. It features a ballroom, movie theater, and the Catalina Island Museum. There are no gambling facilities; the term casino refers instead to a more traditional Italian definition of casino, meaning social gathering place.
Snorkeling & SCUBA diving from shore - Catalina is a haven for SCUBA divers in Los Angeles area. The main SCUBA diving site from Avalon is Casino Point, right next to the Casino building. Concrete steps have been created, so divers (and snorkelers) can step down a few steps and enter the water. Since Casino Point is north-pointing dive site, it is mostly protected from the heavy surf and waves most of the year. Casino Point is a protected area and NOTHING can be removed from the area. There is a air refill station as well as tank/weights rental right next to the entry point. Common sightings are garibaldi, bat rays, octopus, giant black sea bass, kelp bass, lobsters and horn sharks.
Additional snorkeling can be done at Lovers' Cove, south of the ferry terminal.
Many dive boats depart from various ports in LA area, such as Long Beach and San Pedro, for a day diving trip to various parts of Catalina Island that are otherwise inaccessible via car from Catalina Island. The typical cost is $110-150 and includes breakfast, lunch, and three dives with air fills. Some boats have nitrox at additional cost.
New in 2011 is Sea Trek, utilizing high tech diving helmets that allows anyone (no diving or swimming skills needed) to discover Catalina's beautiful undersea environment on a guided underwater walking tour.
For those who don't want to snorkel or dive, there are many alternatives to viewing the underwater life - semi-submarine ride and glass-bottom boat rides. Tickets can be purchased from Catalina Discovery Tours in Avalon. Other tours offered by Discovery Tours include Avalon Scenic Tour and Casino Tour.
One mile up Avalon Canyon is Hermits Gulch camp ground (accessible by walking, taxi or bus). The Catalina Island Golf Course is about 1/2 mile up the canyon from the beach.
Other unique attractions to Catalina Island are the Semi-Submarines there design is unique and allows visitors to see the underwater life, sitting 5 feet underwater, day and night. These custom-built vessels are operated by Discovery Tours "Ocean Expeditions" or Adventure Tours.
Classic to Catalina Island are the Glass Bottom Boat and the interior trips that take you to see the Bison that make part of Catalina Island their home.
Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, #1 Descanso Canyon Rd (At Descanso Beach Club), ☎ 800.626.1496, . Seasonal. New Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour: Comprises of 5 separate zip lines starting in the mountains about Avalon and ending at Descanso Beach. Speeds of over 45 MPH are reached at heights of over 300ft above Descanso Canyon. At each station, your hosts will give you a presentation on some of the unique and interesting aspects of Catalina Island, its wildlife, history, and the areas you are passing through. Tour takes about 2 hours $109.00. edit A new 32 ft. climbing wall was installed in the summer of 2011. It features 8 climbing routes and a high tech auto-belay system.
Catalina Canyon Resort & Spa (Avalon Hotels | Catalina Island Hotels), 888 Country Club Dr, Avalon, CA (close to City Center and all major transportation hubs. Complimentary shuttle greets every boat and/or helicopter at the arrival terminal. Driving time from terminal to hotel is approximately 3 minutes), ☎ +1 310 510-0325, . The Catalina Canyon Resort & Spa in the Catalina Island Town of Avalon, California has made a name for itself as the full-service Resort Hotel destination of choice for travelers seeking comfort, ambience and value on beautiful Catalina Island. Located just off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island and the town of Avalon are a convenient escape from the bustle of life on the mainland.Moderate. (33.340203,-118.332779)edit
Catalina Island Vacation Rentals, P.O. Box 426, 119 Sumner Ave, Suite B, Avalon, CA 90704 (800) 631-5280 (310) 510-2276 . The greatest selection of vacation home rentals on Catalina Island with just under 200 privately owned properties, ranging from beautiful, ocean front villas at Hamilton Cove to quaint cottages, houses and condos in the village of Avalon.
The Avalon Hotel, 124 Whittley Ave, ☎ +1 310 510-7070, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Relax in an environment of understated elegance at The Avalon Hotel, Catalina Island’s premier boutique hotel. Most of our rooms have breath-taking views of Avalon harbor and its scenic surroundings. We offer a range of room sizes all with deluxe king or queen beds and an array of amenities. Specials & packages available.$195-$545. edit
Aurora Hotel & Spa, 137 Marilla Ave, Avalon, CA, ☎ +1 800 422-6836, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Welcome to a new era in Catalina Island hospitality at the Aurora Hotel & Spa. Inspired by the sea, Aurora immerses you in relaxation, inviting you to discover the magic of sensuous waves and the comfort of modern style. Our luxury hotel combines bed and breakfast hospitality with a metropolitan boutique hotel ambiance. Come rediscover the magic of Santa Catalina.$150-$925. edit
Pavilion Hotel, 513 Crescent Ave (Closest major hotel to the boat terminal), ☎ (800) 626-1496, . checkin: 3:00pm; checkout: 11am. The new Pavilion Hotel, formerly the Pavilion Lodge, is where comfort abounds just 14 steps from the beach in this 71-room, 2-story hotel. The new design takes advantage of the huge garden courtyard area by creating semi-private lanais, or outdoor living areas for most of the ground level rooms. The elegantly landscaped garden includes a large fire ring and an open air ocean-view lounge area near the front lobby. There is also a new indoor lounge area / hospitality room where guests will find their complimentary continental breakfast in the morning and the complimentary wine and cheese pairing in the afternoon. New amenities also include HD flat screen TV's, upgraded in-room coffee/tea, iHome MP3 players and complimentary use of Apple's new iPads. Packages and specials available edit