If you’re not keen on swimming in the ocean, but you want a peek at the famous Catalina garibaldi (a bright-orange fish), take a semi-submersible or glass-bottom boat tour. The Undersea Tour (310/510-8687, www.visitcatalinaisland.com, adults $28–35.50, children $14–17.75) takes you a few feet underwater in a comfy cabin to watch the abundant array of aquatic life around Avalon.
For a special (and budget-conscious) treat, book a nighttime Undersea Tour to check out a whole different variety of sea species. Every seat on the boat has a great view of the water, and kids love the colorful fish and mysterious bat rays that glide gracefully by.
In the summertime, take another boat trip out to see one of the legends of Catalina. A Flying Fish Boat Trip (800/626-1496, www.visitcatalinaisland.com, adults $19.50, children $9.75) lights up the air just over the waterline, making visible the famous Catalina flying fish as they leap out, putting on a unique show.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition