California's Port of Avalon & Catalina Island

Sep 30, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

This morning we woke to blue skies and a slight breeze. Ahead of us lay Catalina Island with the bustling port of Avalon. The stark white structures of houses and hotels looked like Spanish Steps of Rome. Meanwhile the waterway was full of folks in watercraft heading out for a day of sun on the water. We even saw a yellow submarine. There were people paragliding sitting side by side above the world, looking down. There were hikers climbing hills exceeding 2,000 feet in ascent.

The shops of this quaint village are decorated with tile and colorful signs that contrast with the palm trees and sandstone hills. Children with fishing poles were scattered all over town engaged in a scavenger hunt that included pulling something out of the water from a dock. We hiked to the top of the hillside which brought us to the Wrigley Botanical Garden. Compiled and sourced by Ada Wrigley from many places around the world. Mostly succulents and cactus, this garden held plant surprises around each bend in the road. Above the gardens sits the Wrigley memorial. Like so many of the buildings in town, tile decoration dominated. Blues and greens bounce over cement steps in the company of various bird sculptures.

The town of Avalon sang with the chirps and wingbeats of acorn woodpeckers. It seems that the recruitment of young woodpeckers was good this year as families flew from tree to tree. Every once in awhile they stopped to look at us. Maybe they were listening to our conversations with wonder too. The hikers returned, the kayakers came back to the beach and the strollers in town arrived at the dock for our shuttle rides to the ship.

The day finished with a fabulous dinner and the exciting footage of undersea specialist Christine West. The golden Garibaldi fish swam through the film, tending his garden of dreams.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee


For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

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