You can see California’s Channel Islands even before you get there – from the window on your flight into Los Angeles from Australia. Of the eight islands, only Santa Catalina is permanently inhabited and easily accessible.
Made famous by the stars of Hollywood’s golden age, the
rocky getaway offers a retreat from the city.
Catalina, as it’s commonly known, can be reached by a one-hour journey aboard the Catalina Express, a ferry that leaves Long Beach and San Pedro for the village of Avalon.
Where to go
Avalon is historic and charming. The beaches are very small but snorkelling and kayaking will bring you face-to-face with wild inhabitants of the rich kelp forests, including seals. Bizarrely, enormous bison populate the island’s interior – descendants of those abandoned by a film crew in the 1920s.
Where to stay
There are numerous motels, Airbnb properties and campgrounds but the most elegant accommodation option is Mt Ada. The bed and breakfast was once the mansion of a wealthy local family, the Wrigleys. Rooms feature postcard views of the harbour while complimentary golf carts help you navigate the hills.
Where to eat and drink
Avalon Grille serves modern American seafood complemented by excellent Californian wines. For a light lunch, try a delicious lobster roll at The Lobster Trap. A drink at the nearby Marlin Club, featuring a 1950s “under the sea” theme, is a must.