Santa Catalina Island has been a getaway for stars over the decades, from Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
The island itself has starred in film classics including The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Jaws and Chinatown. But Catalina’s interior is largely undeveloped thanks to William Wrigley Jr. (yes, of chewing-gum fame) who deeded nearly 90 per cent of the island to Catalina Island Conservancy. Santa Catalina Island Company offers zip-lining adventures over Descanso Canyon, jeep tours of the interior (if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a bison), kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, glass-bottom boating and hiking. A good trail with panoramic views can be accessed from the Botanic Gardens, located a 30-minute walk or a quick golf buggy ride from the Avalon Harbour (cars are restricted on the island).
Eat and Drink
The newly-renovated Descanso Beach Club serves burgers, sandwiches and margaritas from the beachfront Tiki-style bar. This private beach with public access is the only LA County beach that allows you to drink legally on the sand. For health-conscious dishes enjoyed alfresco, visit the new Island Catalina Spa. Housed in a historic Spanish-style building, its Encanto Café makes a great Caesar salad with avocado dressing.
The re-designed Pavilion Hotel is located steps away from Avalon’s waterfront. The two levels of breezy accommodation with four different room types surround an elegantly landscaped tropical garden. Guests can relax in semi-private courtyard lanais or lounge by a large fire pit on the outdoor patio, which is especially welcoming while enjoying the nightly wine and cheese tastings.
It only takes 15 minutes with Island Express Helicopters from Long Beach or one hour with Catalina Express’ high-speed catamarans and mono-hulls from San Pedro, Long Beach or Dana Point, Orange County. catalinaexpress.com