Catalina Island Visitor Information
Sunken Treasure Near Catalina Island
Arrgh, maties! Would ye be lookin' fer sunken treasure around the Island of Saint Catherine, then?
In fact, at various periods throughout the history of Santa Catalina, the island was used as a base of operations by smugglers, traders, trappers and privateers - and as is usually the case, ships were wrecked and sunk not far away.
Diving for Treasure
If you plan on diving, you'll need to obtain a permit from the island's harbor master. The Catalina Island Conservancy, which operates and manages Catalina Island, has many restrictions and regulations, the purpose of which are to protect the environments and habitats on and around the island - as well as for the safety of permit holders.
While the oldest known shipwreck around Catalina is that of a Chinese smuggler, located just off the island's seaward coast, at least three of these shipwrecks were done on purpose. The Charles F. Crocker, the Dauntless, and the Margaret C were all either blown up, run aground or burned for the shooting of feature films.
The Ning Po was extremely old when it met its demise in Catalina Harbor just prior to the start of World War II. (Keep in mind that the useful lifespan of a modern naval vessel is 25-30 years). Built in the Chinese port city of Fu-Chow in 1753, the Ning Po was a Yellow Sea pirate vessel for nearly 160 years. In 1911, it was captured and sold to an American. He eventually had it towed to Catalina Harbor for use as a tourist attraction, where it burned in 1938.
The Valiant was a private yacht built in 1926. She went down in Descanso Bay only four years later with $75,000 worth of jewelry that has never been recovered. However, the most valuable treasure lying on the bottom off Catalina is not in a sunken ship. In 2001, Lisa Marie Presley, in a snit over her then-boyfriend Nicholas Cage, threw a ring once owned by her father over the side of her yacht. Value of the ring: $500,000.