Little Harbor and Avalon

Dec 09, 2018 - National Geographic Venture

We spent the day about Santa Catalina Island, one of the southern islands within the Channel Islands archipelago. During breakfast, we found a good anchorage outside of Little Harbor on the south side of the island.  It gave us a protected beach landing and an ideal place to offer numerous activities, including various hikes and the use of kayaks and paddle boards.   The terrain is rocky and arid (despite the heavy rains the area received a few days ago) and we encountered our first serious growths of cacti, which are an important part of the American Southwest.

The hikers were rewarded with excellent vistas of the surrounding waters, as well as the rugged terrain, and some of the iconic animals of Catalina Island were spotted i.e. American bison, bald eagle, and Channel Island fox. Many guests even managed to both kayak in the bay area and go for a hike. 

During lunch, we moved the ship around to the north side of the island in order to go ashore at the one town on the island, the famous community of Avalon.  This has long been home, or at least a vacation site, for many movie stars, entertainment idols, sports stars, and other famous people.  Apparently, it is incredibly expensive to actually live here and maintain a boat and/or car.  However, it is a major tourist site and more than a million visitors a year come out here to enjoy nature, shop, dine, etc.  It is now the offseason, so there were no crowds to deal with and it was very pleasant walking around and exploring the community on our own.  The highlight of the visit was a tour and cocktail reception at the spectacular Casino.  Frankie of Avalon, our guide, told us all about the amazing history of the place and the Wrigley Family behind it. He also demonstrated the “perfect” acoustics in the theater and danced with all the women among us (one at a time) in the grand ballroom, while we ate snacks and drank wine.  As we returned to our vessel by way of Zodiacs in the dark of night, we were entertained further by bioluminescence in the water and bright stars overhead.

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About the Author

Tom Ritchie


Tom is a zoologist and naturalist who has worked in the field of expedition cruising almost since its inception by Lars Lindblad.  Growing up near the Everglades allowed him to spend his youth exploring the swamps, marshes, forests, and reef systems of South Florida, a perfect training ground for his life with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.

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Sarah Culler

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Sarah was raised on a multi-generational family dairy farm, established circa 1815 in Lucas, Ohio. Consequently, her first paying job was milking cows! Rewarding as it was to get paid for the first time, she found her passion behind the lens of a camera. Growing up on the farm gave her not only a strong work ethic but also the love of nature and being outdoors. 

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