What Is Special About Santa Catalina Island?

Ever heard of Santa Catalina Island? Want to know more about this place? You’ve come to the right place!

One of California’s Channel Islands, Santa Catalina is located at the coast of Southern California. Often known for its wildlife, dive sites, and its highest peak, Mt. Orizaba, this Island has a lot more than meets the eye. Spread over an area of about 47,884 acres (or 76 square miles), Santa Catalina Island is the perfect weekend getaway! Just about 22 miles from the mainland of Long Beach, you can visit Catalina and enjoy the serene beauty it has to offer.


With a population of just about a few thousand, Catalina Island welcomes up to a million tourists during breaks! From beautiful, breezy beaches to a diverse variety of flora and fauna, this Island has a lot to offer. Santa Catalina is definitely a must-visit when in California. However, you might want to know a few interesting facts about this enchanting place.

10 Surprising Facts About Santa Catalina Island

Golf Carts

Driving golf carts seems really fun! But have you ever driven one on the road? Head over to Catalina and experience this exceptional ride! You heard that right! With waiting lists to own a car, so long, the city of Avalon in Catalina allows you to ride golf carts on roads. Why walk when you can swiftly move in these oh-so-adorable golf carts and explore the city.


Buffalo Milk

You must be wondering why buffalo milk is on this list since it is pretty ordinary. Well, the Buffalo Milk you get down here at Catalina is no ordinary buffalo milk. It is a very popular cocktail made from Creme the Cacao, Kahlua, Creme de Banana, and vodka. This mixture is then topped with ice, half and half, a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkled with nutmeg. Formally created by an experimental bartender in Two Harbors, this drink is now available at every nook and corner of the Island. 

The Island Was Once Closed To Tourists

Shocking, isn’t it? But it is true, this magnificent used to be a military training base for the U.S Maritime Service between 1942 and 1945. Thus making it closed for any visitors. There were several other bases and military training camps thus making it unfit for travel and tourism.



You usually see hiking as a sport, and driving seems much easier. However, Catalina Island tells a different story. With rocky roads and dirt-ridden paths, it gets easier to hike or walk the trail rather than drive. Surprising, ain’t it?


The Catalina Casino

Breaking stereotypes about casinos, this Casino has a lot to offer, just not gambling. You read that right! The Catalina Casino is based on the Italian definition of a casino, which is commonly a place of gatherings, not gambling. For years together, this majestic circular building has been used as a movie theatre, dance and music venue, etc.


Pigeon Service

As unreal as it seems, between 1894 and 1898, Otto and Oswald Zahn founded the Catalina Pigeon Messenger Service. This mail service involved carrier pigeons flying between Avalon and Downtown Los Angeles to deliver messages. These pigeons delivered the Los Angeles Times copies to an Island newspaper, Wireless, thus becoming the world’s first suburban edition. Well, those must have been some very intelligent pigeons!


Being a small place niched away into the coastline, Catalina has only one gas station. Pebbly Beach Gas Station, infamous for its exorbitant prices, is located in Avalon. Good for the islanders, they need to fill gas just about once a month, owing to rocky terrain, and lack of motor vehicles.

Avalon Bird Park

The population of this place maybe just in a few thousand, but the number of birds? Let’s just say, it is easier to spot birds, than people. Built in the 1920s, the Avalon Bird Park has recorded about 8,000 birds at its peak. The Avalon Bird Park used to be a major tourist attraction. Sadly the bird park was demolished in 1966 after which the birds were reallocated to a zoo in Los Angeles.


Telephone Exchange

Santa Catalina was the last to bid farewell to the old-timey Ma-Bell nationwide telephone system, in 1978. Residents of Catalina Island decided to switch to the new and upcoming dial phones, thus ending an era of telephone exchange service.

Oldest Trail Marathon

It’s been 45 years since the first mid-March Catalina Island Marathon. This has, so far, been the longest-standing marathon in California. This annually held marathon is perfect for athletes who plan on challenging themselves. Apart from the trial marathon, Catalina also holds several other running events like the 50-mile trail ultra, a triathlon, an eco marathon, and a half marathon.

Do check out our blog on Channel Islands National Park. Click here!