If you’re looking for a place to cruise, consider Santa Catalina Island. It’s only about 25 miles off the coast of bustling Southern California, but it remains largely unspoiled. Cruisers come for the pristine simplicity of the island, but there’s a lot to do if relaxing on your boat, soaking up the sun, and enjoying gorgeous scenery gets old.
Marathon shoppers and serious restaurant mavens can find their fill in Avalon, the one tourist town on the southern tip of the island, where there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops. There’s also ample provisioning in Avalon, which comes in handy for stocking up the boat on your way back to quieter spots.
There’s no end to the activities for energetic cruisers, especially if you’ve brought the kids along. Catalina is a great family destination that offers snorkeling, kayaking, diving, hiking, and horseback riding.
Catalina is usually a comfortable day passage from the mainland across calm seas, except in midwinter, when thick fog and Santa Ana winds cause less favorable conditions. Several charter companies, from Dana Point to Marina del Rey, offer bareboat excursions, with Catalina being the most popular destination.
For more on Catalina, don’t miss John Burnham’s feature story in the October 2006 issue of Cruising World.
Aventura Sailing: (949) 493-9493, www.aventurasailing.com
California Sailing Company: (310) 821-3433, www.californiasailingacademy.com
Harbor Island Yacht Club: (800) 553-7245, www.harboryc.com
Marina Sailing: (800) 262-7245, www.marinasailing.com
Seamist Skippers of Marina del Rey: (800) 398-8830, www.seamist-skippers.com