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New Years’s on Catalina Island!

26 miles across the sea and an hour from Los Angeles is Santa Catalina Island.  Surrounded by the beautiful Pacific Ocean the island was once a getaway for the wealthy and Hollywood’s starlets.   Once you step on to the island it is hard to believe you are only a short distance from noisy freeways and the hustle and bustle of big city life to a place where the common mode of transportation is by means of foot (walking), golf cart or bicycle.  The island has very few autos, and those that are here must have a special permit issued by the city of Avalon. The Catalina Express ferry will transport you to the island and I recommend you watch for dolphins and whales on your journey.  December to February is when the gray whales are migrating to Mexico with the peak of the migration in January so there is a good chance you may see some in the channel.

I grew up living in Southern California and was a frequent visitor and a fan of The Four Preps and their hit song, “26 Miles Across the Sea”, with thoughts of an island romance swirling in my head every time I visited.

The Island has an interesting past and has been inhabited for at least 8000 years.  These first inhabitants were Native Americans, before being discovered by the European explorer Cabrillo who named the island Santa Catalina in honor of Saint Catherine. Catalina’s history is laced with otter hunters, smugglers, ranching, silver mining and military operations during World War II.  In 1846 the Island was awarded to Thomas Robbins by Mexican Governor Pio Pico as a Mexican land grant. Robbins ranched the island until his death.  Catalina Island changed hands numerous times before William Wrigley Jr, chewing gum magnet bought it in 1920 with the idea of making it a tourist attraction.  William Wrigley, Jr. loved the island and his greatest legacy was his plan for the future of Catalina Island—that it be protected for all future generations to enjoy. In 1972 his son, Philip K. Wrigley established the Catalina Island Conservancy for this purpose and transferred all family ownership to it.

Your Catalina Island trip will include a four night stay in the Pavilion Hotel in Avalon.  Only steps to the beach and numerous shops and restaurants you will be sure to love this beautiful location.  The highlight of your stay will be the New Year’s Eve Gala Ball in the Casino, no gambling here; instead it is the focal point of Santa Catalina entertainment and culture since it opening on May 29, 1929.  Delicious food, entertainment, dancing and your Wells Gray Tours friends, will make this a New Year’s to remember.

There will be free time to enjoy some of the optional activities such as kayaking, zip lining or enjoying a round of golf.   The Taste of Catalina Food Tours, Wrigley Botanic Gardens and the Skyline tour are highpoints.  The Skyline Tour will take you to the interior of the island where you are likely to catch a glimpse of the island buffalo herd and climb to the “Airport in the Sky” that offers amazing views of the island, its beaches and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.  Remember this is a Tour 25 so book early and spend your New Year’s on Santa Catalina Island!

Written by Joan Niemeier

    Itinerary from Interior

 New Year’s on Catalina Island
December 29, 2014 — 9 Days


Itinerary from Victoria

New Year’s on Catalina Island
December 29, 2014 — 9 Days