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Santa Catalina Island Company Revamps Tour and Expeditions Enabling Visitors to Experience the Island's Beauty by Land and Sea.

Tours Include an Undersea Ocean Expedition, Zip Line Eco Tour and Backcountry Expeditions

AVALON, Calif. -- Santa Catalina Island Company has revamped it's lineup of tours and expeditions, making it easier for visitors to enjoy all that the island has to offer from ecotourism adventures to family outings. Tours on Catalina Island will lead guests to stunning views, adventurous activities, and sightings of wildlife visitors aren't likely to see in their own backyards.

Ocean Expeditions

* Undersea Ocean Expedition - The semi sub will have a new high-tech, research-vessel look inside and an attention-getting international orange and black paint job on the outside. The tour will offer visitors a more interactive experience than in the past, with new video screens and guides moving around the cabin, answering questions and pointing out flora and fauna to guests as they cruise five feet under water in a climate-controlled cabin. Tour takers will see an array of undersea dwellers including bright orange garibaldi, spotted calico bass, urchins, rockfish and bat rays. The nighttime version introduces visitors to another world of undersea creatures that comes out after dark.

* Glass Bottom Boat Tour (Seasonal) - Passengers ride on large, comfortable vessels to the Lover's Cove Marine Preserve, where they can view colorful fish and the marine plants that thrive among the kelp forests. At night, a group can charter the boat and join in the search for nocturnal creatures such as spiny lobsters, moray eels and horn sharks.

* Flying Fish Boat Trip (Seasonal) - Take a nighttime cruise aboard the open-deck Blanche W. as searchlights dramatically spotlight Catalina's marine aviators. The Blanche W. is a 64-foot, 98-passenger, solid-wood vessel built in 1924 just to watch the flying fish. Her World-War-I-era, 40-million candlepower searchlights entice the fish to fly out of the water and into visitors' memories.

* Sundown Isthmus Cruise (Seasonal) - Cruise from Avalon to the rustic village of Two Harbors aboard the classic vessel Blanche W. This tour combines the flying fish tour with a cruise that escorts visitors along 14 miles of stunning Catalina coastline to Two Harbors, where they can explore the isthmus on their own or with a guide. A Sundowner Dinner is available for purchase at the Harbor Reef Restaurant. On the return trip, watch Catalina's Flying Fish jump in the spotlights.

Extreme Expeditions

* Zip Line Eco Tour - Beginning almost 600 feet above Avalon, the Zip Line Eco Tour provides a way to see and experience Catalina like never before. The nearly 4,000-foot zip line comprises five separate zips across Descanso Canyon and ends by the seashore at Descanso Beach, with speeds reaching 45 miles per hour and heights of more than 300 feet. Each zip ends at a specially designed platform with spectacular views of the surrounding Island interior and ocean. Platforms will have special interpretative signage highlighting the unique flora and fauna of the island.

* Rock Climbing Tower - This 32-foot tall attraction has eight climbing sections, all with automatic belay for a safe and fun experience. The tower rises up from Descanso Beach, just west of the registration area of the Zip Line and down from the last zip line platform. Climbers sign up at the Zip Line registration area at Descanso Beach.

* Hummer's Cape Canyon Expedition and East End Expedition - Santa Catalina Island Company is doing its part to protect the planet and promote ecotourism by converting two Hummers used for visitor expeditions into biodiesel-powered vehicles that run on vegetable oil from Catalina's restaurants. The eco tours travel over the East End or through Cape Canyon to provide a glimpse of the ruggedly beautiful and rarely visited section of the island. The East End tour includes a trip to the summit above Avalon while the Cape Canyon journey explores the heart of Catalina's interior, habitats of the American Bald Eagle and Catalina Island Fox. The aggressive H1 Hummers hold up to 12 passengers yet run on a mild form of fuel.

* Sea Trek - In this guided undersea adventure, visitors wear specially designed diving helmets that enable them to walk along the ocean floor without dive certification or experience. Immersed in colorful schools of fish alongside gracefully swaying forests of giant kelp, trekkers will get up close and personal with Catalina's incredibly unique and diverse underwater ecosystem. Guides will direct a specially designed underwater trail. Beneath the waves participants may find themselves surrounded by teeming schools of mackerel or anchovies; observe sea lions or a solitary bat ray gliding through the blue water; or even catch a glimpse of an octopus or California Lobster hiding among the rocks. Laminated fish finders will help them identify the unique marine life found off the island's shore.

Backcountry Expeditions

* Inland Motor Tour - This comprehensive tour travels 31 miles through the heart of Catalina's rugged interior. Travel in a comfortable, '1950's Flxible Bus[TM], restored to its original streamlined beauty. This memorable journey follows the 1800's stagecoach route then continues through Middle Ranch, where tour takers enjoy the Native Plant Nursery and the Catalina Island Fox habitat. From there, the journey continues on to the beautiful windward backside of the Island for a view of Catalina's rugged, unspoiled Pacific shoreline for stunning photo opportunities and a journey to the Airport-in-the-Sky and Conservancy Nature Center. On the scenic drive back to the heart of Avalon, look for bald eagles, bison, and mule deer.

* Skyline Drive Tour - This narrated journey explores the scenic "Skyline Drive," which travels ten miles into Santa Catalina Island's protected wilderness area. The trip affords views of spectacular vistas, deep canyons, quiet coves, an endless blue ocean and the opportunity to see the island's largest inhabitant, the buffalo. The tour also stops at the Catalina Nature Center and at the Airport in the Sky.

Classic Tours

* Behind the Scenes Casino Tour - This year, this tour will feature a video presentation and a more interactive exploration of this historic Catalina icon. One of the most popular activities on the island, the Behind the Scenes Casino Tour recalls the island's star-studded past, when stars like Howard Hughes and Judy Garland rubbed elbows with other Hollywood A-listers. The tour also includes admission to the newly remodeled Catalina Island Museum (a $5 value), which houses new galleries, an enlarged gift shop and an exhibition of historical newsreel-style clips chronicling the island's past.

* Casino Tour - History buffstake a trip down memory lane to the days when bands were big and movies were just beginning to talk during this tour of the Catalina Casino, which epitomizes everything glamorous about Santa Catalina Island. The tour showcases the extraordinary Art Deco murals and a classic 1929 pipe organ inside the Avalon Theatre and the world-famous Casino Ballroom, a masterpiece of design and a long-standing venue for the world's best musical performers and big bands. Tickets include free admission to the Catalina Island Museum (a $5 value) and a souvenir button. This tour requires uphill walking inside the casino.

* Avalon Scenic Tour - This tour showcases the enchantment of Avalon on a journey along the beachfront, up the hillsides, and through the heart of this friendly and historic town. Visitors admire picture-perfect views and colorful local attractions as the guide shares interesting Catalina Island history and folklore from the comfort of a passenger vehicle. This seven-and-a-half mile journey provides a comprehensive history of Santa Catalina Island's most dynamic location.

* GPS Walking Tour - The tour meanders through the streets of Avalon, offering visitors their own personal high-tech guide to experience the sights at their own pace. The GPS-enabled multimedia units will lead the way, pointing out landmarks and historical points of interest using audio, video and photos. The tour will accommodate up to six people per unit, and guests will have ample time to complete the tour.

Advance reservations are recommended for all tours. For more information, visit www.visitcatalinaisland.com.

About Santa Catalina Island Company

Located off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island is a popular destination known for an array of outdoor activities as well as its vibrant history as a glamorous retreat for Hollywood celebrities. Travelers to the island can now enjoy Santa Catalina Island Company's new Zip Line Eco Tour, Sea Trek Underwater Adventure and newly renovated Descanso Beach Club and Pavilion Hotel and the new Avalon Grille restaurant. These new venues and activities compliment the Company's famous Country Club Restaurant and Pub as well as its Discovery Tour operation offering 22 land and water tours around Avalon and the Island. Other activities include: hiking, bicycling, buffalo safaris, fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, golfing, or relaxing on the beach. The Santa Catalina Island Company has operated much of the lodging, dining and tour options on the island for over 117 years.
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Date:Aug 29, 2011
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