Our third and final day of landings on this Base Camp Channel Islands expedition onboard National Geographic Sea Lion. Today was spent on Santa Catalina Island, the only one of the Channel Island chains we visited that isn’t part of the National Park. Catalina offers a wonderful mix of preserved wilderness alongside a bustling tourist town.
This morning we landed at one of the more remote beaches found on the ‘backside’ of Catalina, the south-facing coast. Little Harbor offers a small crescent-shaped beach that is somewhat sheltered from the Pacific Ocean swell by a small reef. The landing is calm and includes access to some interesting hiking. This morning, as the boats went ashore, a thick fog settled over the ship, so thick that our Zodiacs needed GPS units just to make the one quarter mile trip between ship and beach. This put the planned kayak operations on hold, but everyone seemed content to either explore by foot or simply sit on the beach and enjoy the antics of a troupe of Boy Scouts that we shared the cove with. Eventually, a few guests did manage to test out our stand-up paddleboards despite the fog, but soon enough, it was time for lunch and a two-hour trip to the other side of the island to see the famous town of Avalon.
Avalon offers plenty of things to see, and guests were offered opportunities to join guided walks and tours or simply explore the town on their own. The main waterfront is filled with shops and restaurants, relaxing beaches, and most of the main thoroughfare is closed to traffic, inviting one to stroll along and enjoy the thousands of ceramic tiles that seem to adorn every corner, doorway and park bench.
This evening will be our last aboard, as National Geographic Sea Lion will cross the channel and arrive at dawn at our berth in San Pedro. It seems amazing that we packed so much adventure into so few days!