With non-essential travel discouraged and staying at home encouraged, Catalina Island visitors have had to curtail coming to Southern California’s favorite island in real life. Virtual visits, however, offer a relaxing diversion from these unsettled and unsettling times.

From spectacular scenery on web cams to educational resources for both children and adults, there are dozens of ways to visit Catalina Island from your smart phone or computer as well as via books and movies.

Social distancing means that many have been taking to social media for even more hours than normal. The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is active on Facebook and Instagram, as well as Twitter and Pinterest. You’ll also discover intriguing social media feeds from a variety of island organizations as well as dozens of local businesses, all of which are dedicated to bringing the peace and serenity of the island to their mainland followers during these difficult times. We've also started a new Facebook group called Love Catalina where visitors and residents alike can share images of the island. 

Although the Catalina Island Museum is closed, museum staff have been bringing Catalina Island to the world via the museum’s social media, where you’ll find video profiles of local artists, livestreams of their exhibits and more. Check out the museum’s Facebook and Instagram feeds or follow the hashtag #CIMFromHome.

You can also get a look at Catalina Island in real time. The island hosts several webcams where you can see what’s happening from a variety of perspectives on the island. A camera atop the Catalina Casino puts the viewer in charge of the point of view, you can look around 360 degrees and see Descanso Beach, Avalon Harbor and the channel. The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau offers postcard-worthy Avalon Harbor images from its webcam atop Mt Ada. The Two Harbors webcam lets you check in on Isthmus Cove and take a look around. And some of the most compelling webcams on the island, from Explore.org are trained on the nests of the island’s bald eagles. Viewers around their world have watched these magnificent birds as they bond, defend their nests and raise their chicks.

Catalina Island webcams on Explore.org

Looking to learn? The Catalina Island Conservancy has added a new Learning at Home page, featuring a number of education resources for children and adults as well as coloring pages. The non-profit, which is responsible for protecting Catalina Island in perpetuity, will be regularly updating the new page with additional videos and resources.

For more than 100 years, island residents and visitors have turned to The Catalina Islander for a weekly dose of island news and information. In addition to subscriptions, the paper also offers an active website and Facebook feed.

Catalina Island has been the setting for dozens of movies and if you can’t get to the island in person, it’s easy to find it on the silver screen. From classics like The Glass Bottom Boat to the campy fun found in The Catalina Caper, the island has a long history with Hollywood. Ironically, the Catalina Wine Mixer made famous in the film Step Brothers was filmed on the mainland – you can, however, spot Catalina Island in the background of scenes that purport to be on the island.

While we’re all social distancing, books have become a respite for many and books about Catalina Island abound. From dive guides to travel books, many of these can be found on-line. The island also makes an appearance in books by best-selling authors Stuart Woods and Michael Connelly.

Island blogs are also a great resource for those looking to stay connected. In addition to this blog, several Catalina Island businesses have active blogs where you can find not only the latest information about the current situation, but also hundreds of informative and entertaining articles about the island’s history, culture and environment.