Catalina Reopens, or at Least Tries
July 22, 2021
By Alyssa Erdley, Observer Staff Writer
Catalina Island, 26 miles off the California coast, is still struggling to attract visitors with yet another "reopening" announcement.
The island shut down in March 2020 until mid-June of that year in an attempt to stop the spread there of Covid-19. But its June 2020 reopening to tourism was hampered by the public health guidelines set in place by Los Angeles County and the State of California.
Out-of-county visitors were supposed to quarantine upon arrival, restaurants could only offer outdoor dining, masks and social distancing were required everywhere - including on transportation to the island.
Over the July 4th weekend last year, Catalina closed its beaches and cancelled all fireworks shows.
Since the June "reopening" fizzled, Catalina launched another "reopening" announcement in February, 2021. Visitors were invited to come celebrate President's Day weekend, Valentine's Day, and Spring Break. The Catalina Express ferry resumed daily service to the island. However, the same restrictions that were hampering mainland businesses in Los Angeles County prevented Catalina from providing much of a vacation experience.
Now, Catalina's publicity corps is attempting to launch yet another "reopening." The ferry there will still require masks and social distancing and limits passenger capacity.
However, there are now 30 daily departures of the Catalina Express from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point. To celebrate the company's 40th anniversary, the Bombard family owners are giving away 40 trips in 40 days.
This reopening may also not provide the comeback Catalina would like to see as travel-starved Californians seek to use their newfound freedom to visit locations further afield.
But for those financially impacted by the pandemic lockdowns or for travellers who like outdoor adventure (or indoor pampering), some of the events offered are outdoor movies on the beach, First Friday films at Catalina Island Museum, live music at the Metropole Market Place and the beloved return of the Catalina Wine Mixer at Descanso Beach Club.
Advertised new and sought-after accommodations include Bellanca Hotel, Catalina Island Inn, Hotel Atwater, and the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel