Fourth of July in Avalon Catalina
Jason Daniel Shaw
AVALON – CATALINA
The City of Avalon saved the 4th of July! Despite all of the restrictions from the pandemic, our trip to Catalina for Independence Day was an amazing experience! Spending the 4th of July in Avalon is always a great way to celebrate Independence Day with the sun and the beach and fireworks. This year, two of those things were cancelled but there was still a lot of fun to be had on that southern California island getaway known as Catalina. As has been the theme with my blog posts lately, COVID-19 has really taken a toll on our daily lives. With that being said, places that rely on tourism, such as Catalina, have found ways to still attract visitors in an effort to salvage their economy.
CATALINA EXPRESS – SAN PEDRO
By far, the most popular way to get out to Catalina is via the Catalina Express, even by the locals. However, my favorite way to get to Catalina is to fly into the picturesque Airport in the Sky but with plans to scuba dive, the ferry boat was the better option for us for this trip. In the past we have always used Long Beach as our departure port but due to the schedules and sold out tickets, we were only left with San Pedro as an option. San Pedro is a little closer to us, parking was easier than Long Beach and the boarding was so easy. We will be using San Pedro from now on for any Catalina Express trips we make in the future. As can be expected with the current situation, masks were required while on board and was strictly enforced. The boats that we were on were not sold out and there were still plenty of seats available, in fact we had a whole row to ourselves on the way back. However, I do believe that they are selling a reduced number of tickets for each sailing. A bonus to the San Pedro location is that is sits underneath one of my favorite bridges in souther California, the Vincent Thomas. The port is always a picturesque place but the early morning cruise on the way over and the sunset cruise on the way back was beautiful. I have always wanted to get some nice photos of the Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse so I snapped away as we sailed past it each way.
4TH OF JULY – AVALON CATALINA
The island of Catalina typically puts on a beautiful fireworks show in the Avalon Bay but since California cancelled all fireworks displays, it didn’t happen this year. Restaurants in California were just dealt a huge blow right before the 4th, being told that had to shut down their inside dining again, after just opening back up a couple weeks prior. All of the beaches in Los Angeles county were closed again for the 4th of July weekend. Despite all of that, the city of Avalon was determined to bring visitors to the island and show them a good time. The private boat traffic was full and on par with past years, however, the streets weren’t too crowded. The white sand along Front Street was still open since the city classifies it as a park and not a beach. The restaurants had all opened up outdoor seating, even putting tables on the sandy “park” along Front Street which offered a unique opportunity for beachfront dining with your toes in the sand. I hope that island keeps some of these new alterations going forward. For the second time now, we stayed at the Holiday Inn on the island which I wrote about in my blog from last summer if you want to read more about the hotel. But other than masks in the common area, the pool being closed and the removal of daily room service (which all hotels that we have stayed at since the pandemic have adopted), the stay was just like last year.
SCUBA DIVING – CASINO POINT
One thing that everyone must do when visiting Catalina is explore the underwater world at Casino Point. Even if you don’t know how to scuba dive, get in the water and do some snorkeling. The abundance of garibaldi and the forest of kelp make this unlike other snorkeling/diving experiences. Amanda finished her scuba certification last year at Casino Point so this was her one year anniversary of being an open water diver. She has really come to love diving and I am proud of the progress she has made in such a short amount of time. We took it easy and made three dives over two days. Once again, the giant black sea bass were back for mating season, this time around a dozen or so. The kelp forest is one of my favorite things about diving in Catalina – it is like being in a prehistoric underwater world. While the visibility wasn’t as clear this year as it has been in the past, it was still a fantastic weekend of diving. If you haven’t been to Catalina in a while, go visit and enjoy a weekend exploring the island.