Two healthy steps forward and there is no longer any platform underneath my feet, my weight is fully committed to my harness and a few carabiners, I am Airborne and quickly leaving the tower behind. I tuck into the cannonball position accelerating on my way to 45 mph with the wind roaring through my helmet and pulleys howling like banshees on the cables above. This is Ziplining on the Catalina Island Eco Adventure Tour.
The Zip Trip
3,671 feet of cable spans Descanso canyon high above Avalon harbor. A total of Five zip lines run from 500 feet to 60 feet above sea level. The full tour takes approximately two hours to complete.
Line 1, a 501 foot long zip shakes out your butterflies and gets your adrenaline pumping before clipping in to Line 2, the longest of the tour at 1,045 feet you will have plenty of time to take in the views and really appreciate the rush! We found Line 3 to be the most enjoyable, the fastest of the bunch flies for 702 feet ensuring that you arrive at the far tower with a deafening smack as your guide slams the breaking block into your zipping trolley to bring you to a safe stop atop the landing pad. Line 4, nicknamed the Tarzan, rides for 892 feet and brings you through a cluster of trees of which we were promised a beer if we could successfully retrieve a leaf! Finally, line 5 the “vogue line” zips for 531 feet and sports a motion camera to capture that shit eating grin which is no doubt plastered across your face. You can purchase the picture for a shockingly expensive 17 dollars in the gift shop back at the base.
Our guides Marcus and Elena did an awesome job of keeping us safe and providing entertainment with Island History, funny stories and wildlife facts. What a fantastic job, who wouldn’t want to zip all day long!
What if it rains?
Tours run year round, rain or shine unless the weather is very bad. It was noted that the lines run very fast when wet! Reservations are generally needed as this is a popular adventure and you must coordinate with the Catalina Island ferry to be sure you can access the island in time for one of the scheduled tours. Groups can contain up to 10 people, We were lucky enough to only have six of us on our tour.
Arrive at the Descanso Beach club, just a short walk past the casino building (the round one with the red top!) 15-20 minutes before the start of your tour. This allows for the stowing your belongings in the lockers, last minute jitter induced pee breaks, (pee BEFORE your guides help you into your harness!!) harness and helmet fitting, weigh-in and safety checks to go smoothly. Your guides provide a brief safety and instructional presentation to get you familiarized with the harness system and the cannonball ziplining position. The tour then begins with a shuttle ride up to the Hogs Back Gate, and your first tower.
Tips for zips
Don’t forget your camera with a good wrist strap to take video and photos of the incredible views as you zip across the canyon. Views of the turquoise ocean stretching infinitely are unreal. Pants, longer shorts, sneakers or closed toed shoes are required. Kids between ages 5 and 9 must ride tandem with a guardian and riders under 90 lbs will also be asked to ride tandem. Light weight zippers will want to take a bit of a run off the platform and remain tucked in the cannonball position to maintain the speed needed to make it to the other side.
What if I don’t make it?
You get the sandbag when you don’t have enough speed (or perhaps your friends may or may not have requested your humiliation) to make it to the other tower and you shamefully coast backwards towards the middle of the zipline where you dangle from your crotch and wait for your rescue. Powerless to move in either direction, but hey… you have a fantastic view 300 feet above the canyon with the bright blue harbor below; Hang out, and watch for dolphins! A guide sends out a pulley with a sandbag that has enough weight to reach you, and a rope attached to the end. The stranded zipper then grabs on to the sandbag and the guide reels them in to the tower amidst a chorus of cheers, mockery, finger pointing and laughter.
Ziplining Cost: $92.50 per person
Contact Discovery Tours (Santa Catalina Island Company) for reservations or 800.322.3434. They can also help with other island adventures and lodging.
Ferry Cost adult San Pedro or Long Beach: 66.50 round trip
Ferry Cost adult Dana Point: 68.50 round trip
Here is a coupon for 7.50 off of an adult round trip exp 3/31/11
Contact the Catalina Express Double check the Schedules and make reservations in advance.
Contact Go Outside with any questions you may have. Have you enjoyed this trip? Got a different trip in mind to recommend? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments section below!