When you are traveling through Southern California one place we would recommend for your itinerary is Catalina Island. Think of it as a little Monaco and just like it it has a casino as a landmark and an amazing harbor right next to it. It is a perfect for a few days get away. Catalina island (known as Santa Catalina) is part of the Channel Islands of California archipelago and lies within Los Angeles County. From that archipelago we also visited Anacapa and Santa Cruz.
You can get to it by ferry (Catalina Express) from four mainland ports in Southern California – San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach or Dana Point – in about one hour or 15 minutes by helicopter. Helicopter services are available from Long Beach, San Pedro, Burbank Airport and John Wayne Airport/SNA. We travelled by boat and really enjoyed it.
It is a small island filled with various restaurants, lots of things to do and beautiful views. The main means of transportation there for tourists and locals alike are the golf carts. We rented one both days we were there and drove through the island. There are few stops at the top where you can see the entire harbor so have your camera ready.
Food & Entertainment
The restaurants we tried were all very good and if the island was very active during the day at night it gets even better. Various bars become alive, street musicians are out and people are dancing on the streets and having fun. There also are many galleries and little shops among the main street where you can spend time exploring the work of local artists etc.
Things to do
The beach is very small there and if you would want to get a piece of it you should go there early. We skipped it since waking up early during our vacations is rarely a thing for us :). Island is packed with various activities for every age. There are kayaks, boats, and all kinds of submarine like excursions etc. It also seemed that diving was super popular there as well.
Channel Islands Archipelago
Santa Catalina as mentioned before is one of the islands from the Channel Islands National Park. We visited also Anacapa and Santa Cruz in separate trips. You can read more about those trips here.