Santa Catalina Island was originally part of Providencia, until the pirate Louis Aury dug a channel between the two (part of what is now referred to as the Aury canal), creating the smaller island. With a population of approximately 100 residents, the island is much less developed than the already less developed Providencia. Connected to its larger sister-island by Lover’s Bridge, Catalina has one shop, a few beautiful beaches and a couple of restaurants.
Lover’s Bridge has two wooden spans that are connected by a floating section, which has a low arch for small boats to pass under. Before the bridge was constructed, people crossed back and forth in dug out canoes. The colorful bridge provides a cheerful link between the two islands.
Just off of Catalina Island is a huge rock, carved by wind and waves, that resembles a human face. It’s named after the pirate Henry Morgan, who sailed these waters in the seventeenth century. It was overcast as we came past Morgan’s Head on our way in, and I’m not keen for a trip past it in the Aluminum Princess, so I borrowed this photo from the internet.
Morgan made Providencia, Santa Catalina and San Andres his personal refuge, and used the area as a base for continuing attacks against the Spanish Empire. Rumor has it that there is still much of his treasure buried on the island, and that there are chests of gold and jewels under Morgan’s Head (Scott is practicing his free diving skills!). Providencia was a haven for pirates, and many locals claim to be descendants.
We can see the hill above Morgan’s Head from the anchorage, and set out one afternoon to climb it. It’s a easy go for the most part, following the paved road that runs along the water’s edge, and then up a million steps.
At the top is a statue of the Virgin Mary, and a fort that dates from the days of piracy on the island. The fort was used to defend the area, as it had a clear view of the surrounding area and reefs.
There were also great views of the anchorage below.
We then climbed down a million more steep, sloped steps, to Fort Beach below….
Then back up, and back down the other side again; it was a sweaty go. Note to self, climbing two million steps in the early morning is a much better idea! Here are more photos of Catalina Island, and our climb above Morgan’s Head.
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”