Two Harbors, locally known as the Isthmus, is situated on the West end of Catalina Island and is separated by a half mile slice of land. On both sides of this half mile are anchorages (hence the name Two Harbors), Isthmus Cove and Cat Harbor. We took advantage of the Isthmus Cove special. Stay two nights on a mooring, get the third night free. After all of the commotion from the weekend had settled, the small town with about 150 permanent residents was very quiet.
While I love sailing, for me it is just as much about the destination and what we can do to explore the area while we are there. I find the best way to explore is to just wander on foot. Sometimes this leads to long distance hikes and other times this leads straight into the heart of the town. Two Harbors has a small country town vibe. Only, it’s like stepping back in time a bit with modern day prices. The fact that the only restaurant in this little village serves $14 quesadillas for a fried flour tortilla with some cheese, would be an ongoing joke during our stay! Depending on what your looking for, exploring the only General Store can be a little pricy as well, but the fact that there is no competition for business, and were on an island, makes it a little more believable. We didn’t really need anything from the store since we brought it all with us, but it was still fun to look!
Everyone in the town was super friendly and very helpful. We took some time to walk the half mile over to get a look around Cat Harbor. Along the way we passed the towns one room school house. Yes, these still exist, and this one is fully functioning. It was built in 1987 for the elementary children ages K- 6 that live at Two Harbors. At it’s busiest 24 children attended but currently it has six students. After elementary level the kids go to school in Avalon. Avalon is the larger of the two towns on Catalina.
The hillsides were so large you could see how buffalo might like this area. Small detail. In 1924, 14 buffalo were brought over to the island in order to film the movie, “The Vanishing American.” After the movie it was agreed the buffalo could stay. Currently there is a full herd of buffalo that freely roam the island. We were told to be on the look out because some mornings you might just see a buffalo chilling on the beach. We did not see this during our stay but we did find some tracks.
Another small detail. Raccoons are not allowed on the island. They are not natural to the habitat and since the resources for the buffalo are already scarce, they try to keep a close watch for any raccoon stowaways from the mainland. I’m thinking if you have a raccoon stowaway on your boat you’ve got BIG problems. But, (based on past experiences in the Midwest) the fact that there are no raccoons here puts this place high on my list for camping.
It is clear there are many options for roughing it on this island, or not roughing it. You can bring your boat and stay on it, go tent camping, rent a cabin or even stay pampered in a hotel or villa. Which ever you choose it is definitely a fun place to explore and very peaceful being right next to the water. While the outside temperature was warm at Two Harbors during the day, the evenings turned a little chilly. The water was so clear it would have been a shame not to go snorkeling. I managed to brave the cold water for about a half hour only to confirm the water was still too cold for me! Guess that leaves us still looking for “Warmer Waters!”