Avalon is the primary city on Catalina Island
. Situated in a natural harbor on the southern end of the island in the Pacific Ocean
. The island is 25 miles offshore from Long Beach
. Avalon is accessible by private boats, municipal ferries from several cities and helicopter from Longbeach. There is also a small airport for private planes. The ferry ride takes about one hour, the helicopter takes about 20 min. Avalon is part of the Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
metro area and is located in Los Angeles
County, near the San Pedro and Outer Santa Barbara
The permanent population estimate for July 1, 1998 was 3,072, an increase of 154 since 1990. The summer and fall population swells to many thousands as many visitors flock to the island for day trips or longer vacations. While the permanent population may be small, 99% of the population of the island is confined to the town due to the geography of the island. The town of Avalon, facing east, is nestled in a natural bowl with steep mountain ridges on three sides making it compact. The downtown is easy to walk or ride a rented bicycle or scooter.
Avalon is a somewhat exotic beach front community and has many fine hotels and restaurants. The harbor-beach is freely accessible and terminates at the cities’ landmark building, the Wrigley Casino, now used as a theater. Due to the narrow winding streets, lack of parking space and expensive gasoline, the majority of vehicles on the island are either propane or electrically powered. Ranging from scooters, golf carts to mini-trucks, vehicles more at home in the Far East. This type of conveyance is not normally seen on American city streets.
There are only a few major roads on the island leaving the town. Some roads are gated and require a special pass to gain access. Visitors are accommodated by a variety of tour packages. There are tours that that utilize specially designed busses that articulate to accommodate the hairpin curves on the one-lane mountain roads out of town. One of the tours terminates near the north end of the island on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. There are several stops along the way including the municipal airport and the Wrigley ranch. If you are very lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the remnant of the buffalo herd that once roamed the island.
Traveling to the island in the summer, many tourists opt to spend a few nights on the Hotel Queen Mary (hha), now a fine hotel and historic attraction on it’s own. The ferries to Avalon docks within walking distance of the ship.