Catalina Island reopens to visitors after months of pandemic restrictions, in time for Valentine’s Day

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An undated photo shows Catalina Island’s Avalon Harbor. (Catalina Express)

An undated photo shows Catalina Island’s Avalon Harbor. (Catalina Express)

Catalina, largely closed to visitors through months of pandemic restrictions, will awaken again in coming days, just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend.

The Catalina Express, which had cut back its ferry service to the island, on Friday will return to its full range of trips. In addition to daily service on the 22-mile route from Long Beach to the island’s Avalon Harbor, ferries will resume sailing on weekends from Dana Point to Avalon; and from San Pedro to Avalon and Two Harbors. Ferries will operate at reduced capacity and require face masks to comply with COVID-19 precautions.

The Catalina Island Tourism Authority reports that by Friday, two-dozen restaurants will be open in Avalon for outdoor dining or take-away meals, including Antonio’s Pizzeria & Cabaret (reopening Wednesday); Bistro at Atwater (reopening Wednesday); Buffalo Nickel, Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co. (reopening Friday); Descanso Beach Club (reopening on weekends, beginning Friday); Luau Larry’s; and Steve’s Steakhouse (reopening Thursday). However, more than a dozen restaurants and bars remain closed, and visitors are urged to check their websites and social media accounts before planning a meal.

Island hotels and vacation rentals are reopening slowly and now accepting reservations. In Avalon, the historic Mt. Ada plans to open March 3; the Hotel Atwater, March 5; and the Pavilion Hotel, March 26, according to the Catalina Island Co. Banning House Lodge in Two Harbors plans to open Feb. 12. Tours and activities on the island will reopen March 5.

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