Trip To Catalina Island, California Image
Avalon on Catalina Islanda

Last weekend I went on a short, one night, trip to Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, although it is still a part of Los Angeles. Avalon is the largest town on the Island of Catalina. The cab driver told me that the population was about 3,000 permanent residents. Avalon is a small town, and I was told on several occasions that everything was walkable, and it really was. You can easily see from one end of town to the other. Incidentally, on one end of the town is the Cabrillo Mole, the ferry terminal, and on the other end is the Casino, which is a theater, not a gambling casino. The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce Site is a great source of general information and probably the best place to start researching your trip their.

Getting There
There are two main methods of getting there from the mainland: ferry or helicopter. You can ferry over using several companies, and charter a helicopter from a couple of companies.

I used Catalina Express to ferry over. A ferry ticket was readily booked through most of the hotels I called, and I eventually did book my ferry ticket with my hotel reservation. You could also book the tickets directly with Catalina Express on their site. The ticket was 64.50 USD for a round trip adult ticket from San Pedro. It took about 75 minutes from port to port and there was limited amount of outdoor seating. If you do plan on sitting outside, bring warm clothes, even if it is a beautiful sunny day, it can get real cold on the ocean.

Flying Fish and Other Boat Tours
When I went last weekend it was during Catalina’s first annual Flying Fish festival. Apparently the flying fish come around this time of year and jump around at night. You can take boat tours out in the evening to see the flying fish, tickets are sold and tours launch off the Green Pleasure Pier. There are a few other tours you can book on the Green Pleasure Pier. I took a Glass Bottom tour, which lasted about 45 minutes. Cost for an adult was 16 USD.

Photo Opportunities
Its not hard to find a nice photo in Avalon. Hills and steps let you get unique perspectives, if you are willing to make the climb. Also, the shape of the harbor let’s you shoot the entire town from one end to the other, don’t forget you wide angle. Another great opportunity to get the entire town is when you are coming into port, either by ferry or helicopter. When shooting on a vehicle, remember to have your anti-shake technology flipped on if you have it, and use a higher ISO than you might normally use for the lighting conditions, to help you shoot faster.

Walk the town during the day to find a spot to set up for sunset. Because Avalon is on the east side of a mountain, the town will fall into shadow, sooner than sunset, so be prepared and get out there a least an hour before sunset with your tripod.

Even though Avalon is part of Los Angeles, it is a world apart. There are few full-size cars and golf carts dominate the road. Roads are smaller and the town is smaller. Everyone knows each other there; My shuttle driver honked at or waved to at least 8 people he knew between my hotel and the ferry, only a 5 minute drive. He also said that his graduating class from high school was about 25. If you just look around there are plenty of shots to take which show the unique character of this little island town.

Even More
One night is really not enough time to spend shooting in Avalon. At least another night would have been great to see Avalon. Also, the next time I go I would like to go inland and see some more of the island, there are the bison as well as the town of Twin Harbors to check out.