If you're in California and you have some time for an island adventure, then I definitely suggest Catalina Island. You can get there by ferry from several ports dotting the coast from Orange County to LA, and then there's always the helicopter route which is obviously much faster!
Looking out the window of the ferry, you will likely see a pod of dolphins at some point.
There are beautiful harbors here. You may recall that famous actress Natalie Wood drowned after falling (or being pushed) off a boat docked just off the island, and in the media stories of the account, the local culture of docking boats just offshore was well-noted around Catalina Island.
And it is a world-renowned dive site.
Check out our dive, just outside the famous Catalina Casino:
The Casino is no longer an operating gambling casino ("Too bad!" said you, and me too!) but it is open for special events and performances, and allows tours.
The tile work is quite stunning.
We stayed at the Hamilton Cove resort, which has spacious and fairly affordable little condos each of which come with their own golf cart. This is a major bonus considering you really can't get get use of a car on Catalina Island, but you do need something decent to get you around. The golf carts are how everyone does it!
It's the perfect place for, say... a 10-year anniversary weekend.
Deer abound, and are totally unafraid of people and let you get pretty close.
At the time I visited, I had yet to become a hunter and my dominant thought was, "Aww, how cute they are!" Now I look back on these photos and still think the deer are as cute as can be, but I also can't help but think, "If I were hunting right now..."
Another big thing on Catalina is bicycling - but not just on any bike. With the major hills around town, it would not be a very leisurely ride. Here you see a motorized bicycle that can work like any other, but also allows you to rev it up with its very own engine! The box behind the seat (which reads, "Do Not Sit") is the battery. After riding all over town on this thing I felt a pretty strong need to have one forever and ever...
There are adorable little shops and places for treats all over the main walking area.
And every now and then, a weird sight. We know there's no hunting in Avalon, so I'm guessing these hawks are here for seagull control.
Fancy doing even more on the water?
There is more than one parasailing outfit, and the view from up there is truly stunning!
Opt for the full "let out" - you will be a speck to the boat, the boat will be a speck to you, but you will see many other boats and the whole island unfold before you like a pop-up book.
Later you can come down off your adrenaline high by just playing in the sand...
Catalina Island is a dream!
Thanks for looking :)