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5 Things You May Not Know About Catalina Island

1. Long before Mr. Wrigley lay claim to this enchanting Channel Island, the Native American tribe known as the Tongva first settled here at least 8,000 years ago. With a territory that included the Channel Islands and Los Angeles Basin, it’s estimated that the tribe’s numbers were at one point close to 10,000 strong. Modern Astronomers recognized the Tongva in 2002 and again in 2009 by naming the planetoid 50000 Quaoar and its satellite moon, Weywot, after two gods in the tribe’s pre-Christian six-god pantheon.

2. In 1924, 14 bison were brought to the island for the shooting of Zane Grey’s silent Western The Vanishing American, though no bison seem to have made a cameo appearance in the 1925 production. When Paramount actors and set crew packed up and returned to Hollywood, the bison remained to roam freely. Now, The Catalina Conservancy maintains the herd’s number between 150 – 200, an ecologically optimal range. The island’s largest inhabitants are best viewed while touring Skyline Drive in a timeless 1950s Flexible Bus. Call 310.510.1600 to learn more.

3. Though golf carts are unquestionably the prefered mode of transportation on Catalina Island, there was a time when motorcycles were all the rave. As with many of Catalina’s 20th-Century success, the Catalina Grand Prix was popularized by Philip Wrigley. The motorcycle race was held annually between 1951 and 1958, and drew hordes of spectators, all eager to witness racers tearing through Avalon and up through the surrounding mountains.

4. While 85% of the land on Catalina Island is protected as a conservancy, there’s also plenty of beautiful life thriving below the service. Thrill-seekers can get up close and personal with an array of aquatic life by exploring the island’s numerous snorkel and SCUBA dive spots, while those who aren’t as keen to discover how many rows of teeth a shark has (or who just don’t want to get their hair wet!) can still get an eyeful of underwater critters aboard a relaxing glass-bottom boat tour, or spot pods of porpoises aboard the high-speed Dolphin Quest.

5. We at Catalina Island Golf Carts & Tours, and all the residents of this romantic island, are committed to keeping it among one of California’s most beautiful and treasured places to visit and live. Each year, around one million visitors come to explore the island’s natural and thoughtfully developed attractions. Meanwhile, the roughly 3,100 full-time residents work hard to ensure the island maintains its charming allure. We do this through careful, long-term planning, with the goal of minimizing our reliance on fossil fuels, maintaining the natural ecosystem, and allowing everyone to experience all that Catalina has to offer, now and for generations more.