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Two Harbors/ Twin Harbors/ the Isthmus, Catalina island, CA (other)

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Name:Two Harbors / Twin Harbors / the Isthmus
City:Catalina island
Phone:310 510 0303

Although having a military presence since the Civil War, Two Harbors really became a town thanks to Hollywood films such as "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Old Ironsides". It's a one horse town, consisting of 2 restaurants, a bar, (Harbor Reef Restaurant and Saloon and the West End Galley - which are all connected) a marketplace (Two Harbors General Store), some rental places, camping areas outside of town, a few houses, a couple of roaming bison and some neat history.

On a side note to our pirate lovers, Two Harbors is the final resting place for the famed Chinese pirate ship Ningpo that spent 159 years engaged in acts of piracey along the chinese coast. Read more about this cool ship:
http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/twoHarbors/poin_ningPo.php (actual photo is not of the Ningpo - maybe the Llewellyn J. Morse re-worked to resemble the USS Constitution in "Old Ironsides"?)
http://www.cawreckdivers.org/Wrecks/Ningpo.htm (great history and pictures on this site)

You can also don your favorite pirate costume and head out for Buccaneer Days. In October.

The tiki stuff:
The Harbor Reef Restaurant/Saloon contains tikis, Hawaiian style pen and ink drawings, bamboo trimmed lampac/potog ceiling (redone in 2000 by the master BambooBen), pictures of celebrities, film stills and a great collage of two harbors over the years (located at the entrance to the West End Galley, which is attached to the restaurant). The collage also shows what the restaurant used to look like. Very hawaiiana-ish.

More information:
An article written by Bambooben in Tiki News issue #17 entitled "The Life and Times of Bamboo Ben: Job #396: Two Harbors, Catalina, CA (aka the Isthmus)
There's a little information about two harbors being the original starting point for Christians Hut in the BOT on page 133 (see picture below, as well)

Tiki Central threads:
HMS Bounty

More information about Two Harbors and how to get there:

[ Edited by: Polynesiac 2008-05-02 14:39 ]

These pictures are from a voyage out to two harbors I took last June (2007). There was a wine tasting festival going on, so there were quite a few patrons in the restaurant. I didn't get to take enough pictures inside the restaurant as the wait staff asked me to leave after a few minutes.

We'll start with closups of the collage in the West End Galley:

(all of this is pretty much gone, except for the hawaiian pictures)

A close up of the outrigger (and cool globe/shell lamps):

A close up of the matting on the ceiling and walls and the hawaiiana pictures:

The bar area that (I think) is now the Harbor Reef Saloon:

New pictures taken from the Harbor Reef Restaurant looking back into the Harbor Reef Saloon. You can see Ben's fine handiwork on the ceiling in the background. These tikis stand guard. Have your ID ready to show them:

Behind the bar in the Saloon is this door (it looked like an old ice chest). Maybe from an original Christian's Hut? Or did you do this one B-Ben?:

The rest of the restaurant has some small carvings that look like they are from OA, the hawaiiana pictures, old photos and a nice nautical feel to it. I got booted out, so I was unable to snap any photos of it.

On your way over to the general store, you encounter this cool sign and sign post:

I'd love to know more information about this sign post. Who carved it? When was it carved? Here are some close ups:

Polynesiac - putting the "F" back in "ART"

[ Edited by: Polynesiac 2008-05-02 10:23 ]

[ Edited by: polynesiac 2008-05-02 14:32 ]

Murph posted on Fri, May 2, 2008 11:44 AM

Polynesiac thanks for the old photos and tidbits on the Isthmus!
It would be great if the Reef still looked like those old photos.
We are over there pretty much any time we have free.
Here's us flying our "colors" (that my best friend made for us) at Buccaneer Days.

I would recommend anyone who has not been to the west end of Catalina to make the trip.
It's hard to believe you're only 23 miles from LA.

Those doorway and sign post Tiki poles are unmistakeably Milan Guanko Tikis, so they probably were brought over from the mainland.


Here's a postcard that Marie and I found at an estate sale in March 2009.

Crazy thing about it is, while the text on the front identifies the location simply as "The Isthmus, Santa Catalina Island," part of the handwritten message on the reverse actually refers to Christian's Hut!

It reads..."This picture shows Christian's Hut. It's owned by Clark Gable and was used in the Picture 'Mutiny on the Bounty.'"

The postmark reads Jul 25, 1938.

That's cool, Jonpaul. Marie was telling me about that postcard. Nice to have a confirmed image of the original Christian's Hut.

Avalon itself was a tiki destination of sorts in the 50s/60s. I talked to an old lifeguard who was surfing at Two Harbors during my last visit. He remembers hanging out at Club Waikiki, The Hurricane, and the Chi-Chi during the Poly-pop heyday of Avalon.

Indeed a good find, it pays to read postcard captions! More confirmation that Clark Gable not only lived above the bar while he played Fletcher Chrisitian, but actually owned it, as this sign in this early photo of young Ray Buhen at his work place shows:

"Christian's Hut, Pitcairn Island, Prop.(rietor) Clark Gable"

Where was this photo taken in relation to the postcard? At the left corner of the building, with the porch on the left side? The exterior bar probably had those stick sunshades which are rolled up in the postcard.......although, there is no railing on top...hmmm.

I would give my left leg (it's wooden!) to find out the whole story of this legendary place: Gable started it, but WHO brought it to the mainland? And how was the character of the Goof created, and who drew him ? What went on with the franchise in Waikiki...and the San Diego one, to become the Bali Hai?


And why are Ray's pants so high? Were they hand-me-downs from Howard Hughes? :)


WOW. Mahalo nui loa for all this excellent research and the photos!
I was a regular at the Isthmus an average of every other weekend from the early 70s through the early 90s, when I moved here to Hawaii. I was editor of a boating magazine and also served on the Isthmus Harbor Patrol, but I'm ashamed to admit that I never knew this part of the area's history. Thanks for this thread!
I lived on my boat(s) directly in front of Don The Beachcomber's, and posted in that thread a while back.
Keep up the great work, folks!

Murph posted on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 4:30 PM

Here's another photo from Christian's Hut on Catalina

Very cool find, Murph! Let me know next time you take the boat over there, I am ready to do some research in situ!

Otto posted on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 12:22 PM

[ Edited by: Bora Boris - Straightened photo. - 2014-07-23 13:12 ]

Otto posted on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 12:34 PM

Oops. I got excited and posted that in haste. I am currently at Camp Cherry Valley where Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed.
Doin recon on Two Harbors and will post some right side up photos when I get back.

Phone reception and free time is spotty right now.

Otto posted on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 2:42 PM

Ok. One last photo before I hike back to Cherry Valley
Christians Hut fridge logo. Bamboo Ben ceiling work. And two entryway Tikis are intact.
And here I am in front of sign. Shot by Curtis.

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