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Overview

Catalina Island, the most accessible of California's channel islands, hovers tantalizingly on the horizon 21 miles southwest of Long Beach. Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino put it on the map when he landed here in 1602. In the 1920s it evolved as a favorite weekend destination, tempting actors, painters, and other visitors with its tranquility, intimate hotels, and unspoiled mountain terrain, most of it under the care of the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy. The tiny traffic-free seaside village of Avalon enjoys a fabulous setting in a sheltered bay, where yachts and fishing boats bob at anchor. In summer the bars buzz with revelers and ...

Catalina Island, the most accessible of California's channel islands, hovers tantalizingly on the horizon 21 miles southwest of Long Beach. Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino put it on the map when he landed here in 1602. In the 1920s it evolved as a favorite weekend destination, tempting actors, painters, and other visitors with its tranquility, intimate hotels, and unspoiled mountain terrain, most of it under the care of the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy. The tiny traffic-free seaside village of Avalon enjoys a fabulous setting in a sheltered bay, where yachts and fishing boats bob at anchor. In summer the bars buzz with revelers and live musicians. Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden provides a lush, quiet place to stroll at any time of year. Divers are delirious about some of the best shore diving in California, and the calm waters are perfect for kayaking. The wild interior tempts hikers with miles of trails and the chance to spot bison, wild antelope and eagles. To observe sea lions, head to Lovers Cove Marine Reserve or Seal Rocks. And the ferry ride from and to the mainland adds an extra touch of adventure.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, early fall, late spring