Chad and I had our first dive together at Casino Dive Park August 18th at around 10:00am. Our dive lasted for 50 minutes and we went to a depth of 14.3 meters. I wore a 7mil wetsuit and it felt nice and cozy despite the cold water. We spotted the famous giant black sea bass that hide in the maze of kelp. We also saw many lobster, sheepshead, and spotted scorpion fish. On different occasions, Chad had seen nudibranchs and sealions at the dive park. The bright orange color of the garibaldi, which is the California state fish, had mesmerized me as hundreds swam all around us. In fact all the curious fish swam right up to us. They were looking straight at me in the eye as if they were saying “hi”.
Chad has been guiding dives with the Diving Catalina Company since we arrived on Catalina two weeks ago. To sign up and dive with him go to divingcatalina.com. Chad previously dove at Casino dive park in 2013, the year we met on Catalina during the PIMU Catalina archaeological field school. I have been snorkel swimming at the Casino dive park getting used to the cold water since all my dives where done in the warm waters of South East Asia and Kauai.
If you are a first-time diver I recommend snorkeling as much as you can to become adjusted to having your face in the water and breathing through a tube. If you are worried about snorkeling at the dive park alone, you can join in with the morning swim club for a good workout at 7:15am. Anyone can join in if you just show up at that time. The dive park is the calmest in the mornings. In the afternoon the water gets choppy from the passing boats.
Casino Dive Park is the perfect spot to safely enjoy the ocean without worrying about boat traffic because it is entirely roped off and there are multiple decent lines for intro divers. It is one of the safest spots to dive on the island and great for people who are new to the water. There is even an emergency call line for immediate help from the local Baywatch. Every day many divers and swimmers hang out at the park to enjoy the ocean.
We are enjoying ourselves living on the island and love getting into the ocean every day. We have also been frequently hiking to the viewpoints that overlook Avalon,
especially the Buena Vista Point Scenic Overlook to watch the sunsets. At night the town lights, up with a rainbow of lights that shimmer and reflect upon the bay. It has been a dream ever since we arrived, and it brings back so many memories of when we first met. At the edge of the Buena Vista Overlook overlook is a bench dedicated to Joseph Banning, one of the owners of Catalina before William Wrigley Jr. had bought it in 1919.
Since Avalon is only one square mile, we can just walk everywhere and all the stores and restaurants are located nearest to the bay focused around crescent avenue, the main walkway where tourists gather for a day of fun, and laying out in the sun. Of course, people are still maintaining social distancing and preventive measures like wearing a mask to prevent the spread of disease. The residential area is located toward Avalon Canyon Road that leads to the Wrigley Memorial Garden and the beginning of the Trans-Catalina Trail.
Many locals and tourists drive golf carts here and most are not electric so fumes can get a little intense but overall, the town is unique and beautiful. Catalina is famously referred to as the Riviera of the Pacific first coined by Charles Fredrick Holder over one hundred years ago.
After traveling all over the world, I can see things in a whole new light and notice things that I did not notice before from when we first met on the island seven years ago. For example, I notice the Tuna Club and the plaque for Charles Fredrick Holder who had founded the club in 1898 after having caught a massive 183 pound bluefin tuna with line and reel. Fishing on Catalina became a famous sport that attracted people from all over the world. Charles Fredrick Holder was one of the first people to conduct archaeological excavations on Catalina and discovered over 40 townsites on the island and documented his findings in his books “An Isle of Summer” written in 1901 and in the “The Chanel Islands” written in 1910. Both describe the landscape, his archaeological findings of the Pimu’gnans and the sea life of Catalina and the skill behind reeling in big fish such as the “leaping Tuna” and the giant black bass that Chad and I had the pleasure of gazing upon on our first dive together at Casino Point Dive Park