California is one of the best US states to visit for a variety of reasons. It is home to some of the most stunning beaches, fantastic music festivals, and an outstanding culinary scene.
Oh, and don’t forget that the Golden State has a name for a reason. California islands have some of the nicest weather, making it a wonderful place to visit all year long. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that it is so well-liked by tourists.
Another reason to fall in love with islands in California is a group of magnificent islands that can be found if you go just a few miles inland from the coast. The nicest aspect is that most of the major mainland cities are only a short ferry trip away.
1. Catalina Island
Catalina initially appears to be an island off the French Riviera. It is in fact an island approximately 22 miles southeast of Los Angeles off the Californian coast. It is easily accessible from the city of Long Beach thanks to a quick, one-hour ferry voyage.
It’s difficult to comprehend that you are so near to one of the biggest cities in the US from the moment you set foot on the island. Avalon, the capital city of the island, welcomes you with colorful homes lining the hillside and stunning white sand beaches.
Visitors can engage in a variety of activities on Catalina. Activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking are ideal in the seas surrounding Catalina Island since they are clear and home to a variety of marine species. Above Descanso Canyon, ziplining is another well-liked pastime. As there aren’t many cars allowed on the island, most people choose to walk, bike, or rent a golf cart from one of the resorts to get around. These are all fantastic ways to find Catalina’s hidden treasures.
Tourists can stroll islands in California around the Green Pleasure Pier and eat delectable, fresh seafood at a variety of the pier’s eateries.
2. The Channel Islands
The Channel islands of California, which make up the Channel Islands National Park are only 28 miles from Santa Barbara and are referred to as the “Galapagos of North America.” They are situated in the Pacific Ocean.
The archipelago’s five Channel Islands of California are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara Island, and San Miguel.
These islands are mostly recognized for their untamed scenery, wildlife, and undiscovered treasures. The landscape is still largely unexplored and untouched, making them worthwhile destinations. Because of their proximity to the mainland and development, Santa Cruz and Anacapa are the most well-known.
It is simple to island-hop and spend a full day on each island because they are all close to one another. The islands in the national park have stunning vistas of the Bay Area, kelp forests, and hidden sea caves. Travelers will enjoy going kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling. The Channel Islands of California have a very secluded vibe, making them the ideal getaway from the chaos of the mainland.
3. Coronado Island
One of the lovely islands in California close to San Diego is Coronado. The Silver Strand, a slender stretch of land that connects it to San Diego, is what separates it from the city by around 6 miles.
Coronado is just a 12-minute drive from San Diego’s downtown, but it seems like a world away from the bustle of the city. Coronado is a terrific area to go to if you’re seeking for a place to get some peace and quiet while still wanting to be close to all the action.
The islands in California are renowned for their immaculate white sandy beaches, which include one designated for dogs without leashes. The history of the island began in the 1850s when affluent American industrialists began to develop Coronado. It also had a significant impact on US Navy and aviation history, so much so that three navy ships bear the island’s name.
The historic Hotel del Coronado, which debuted way back in 1888, is arguably the island’s most well-known landmark. It was the world’s biggest resort hotel when it first opened. Presidents have stayed there, and Katherine Hepburn and Judy Garland were among its ardent fans. There are many things to do on the island in addition to strolling along the stunning Coronado Central Beach. Take a stroll down Orange Avenue to find a variety of boutiques, eateries, and unique galleries.
Moreover, you can visit the Silver Strand or take a gondola ride to the Coronado Cays. You can see the Coronado Bridge in the distance, along with the San Diego skyline and the bay area, in this location.
4. Naples Island
Without a question, one of California’s undiscovered jewels is Naples Island. It was constructed on three little islands in Alamitos Bay and is highly recognized for its picturesque canals that resemble Venice’s waterways.
The city, which takes its name from Naples in Italy, resembles Naples in many ways. Even the names of the majority of the island’s streets are in Italian. Without leaving the state, Naples Island offers visitors a taste of the Mediterranean. Naples Island is the ideal destination if you’ve ever wanted to travel to Italy but haven’t quite had the chance.
You can ride in a gondola along its beautiful rivers and gaze at the adorable Italian-looking homes. As an alternative, renting a kayak or paddleboard is a terrific way to learn about one of Cali’s best-kept secrets.
5. The Brother Islands
Two islands in California called The Brothers are located halfway between San Francisco and San Pablo Bay. The more well-known of the two is called East Brother Island, and it is the location of a historic lighthouse that was constructed in 1873.
The lighthouse provided assistance to ships navigating the two bays’ hazy waters. It was about to be destroyed after many years of service, but the 1960s addition to the Registry of Historic Sites prevented that.
The lighthouse is now a bed and breakfast with five rooms, making it a fantastic place for a private escape. The Brothers is an excellent destination for a day trip if you don’t want to spend the night there because they are only 30 minutes from San Francisco.
6. Woodley Island
The largest of three islands in northern California’s Humboldt Bay is called Woodley Island. It is one of the islands off the coast of California that is the furthest away from San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
One of the best spots to get away for some outdoor sports and fresh air is this picturesque island. Kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and bird watching are available for visitors to Woodley Island. As fishing boats enter the pier, it’s also a fantastic area to buy fresh catches like crabs and shrimp.
7. Angel Island
It provides perhaps some of the nicest views of the water and is the largest naturally occurring island in San Francisco Bay. It’s one of the nicest spots to spend the day outside of the city and is only six miles from San Francisco. Angel Island has a lengthy and fascinating past. Initially, it served as a haven for local tribes. Eventually, it served as a haven for adventurers like Juan Manuel de Ayala during the Spanish invasion.
Millions of immigrants seeking asylum and a better life in America were processed on the island during the 1900s. It is therefore referred to as the Ellis Island of the West. The immigration station is now a museum that explores the history of the island.
One of the nicest treks to take on the island’s many hiking and bike routes is up to Mount Livermore. It is the highest point on the island and provides a 360-degree view of the San Francisco skyline.
For about $30 per night, you can camp on Angel Island and even take a sunset cruise around the bay if you want to extend your time there beyond just a brief day excursion.
8. Treasure Island
One of the most distinctive islands in California is Treasure Island. It is an artificial island that was constructed for the Golden Gate International Exposition in the 1930s and is located in the center of San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were to be celebrated at the expo.
The island was transformed into a military post during World War II, and it remained thus until the early 1990s. Many of the island’s structures are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is well-known for hosting the two-day Treasure Island Music Festival, which draws the best names in rap, hip-hop, rock, electronic, and independent music.
Another popular event is the monthly flea market located on Treasure Island. The market, which lasts for two days, draws visitors from all across the bay area. Visitors can find the finest antiques, artwork, upcycled and repurposed goods, as well as a variety of plants, at this outdoor market.
There is a tonne of food trucks as well, serving anything from fine dining to regional specialties like shrimp and crab from the Bay Area. It follows that it is not surprising that both locals and visitors enjoy hanging out there.
9. Alcatraz Island
The island of Alcatraz, which is close to California, has a notorious reputation. From 1934 to 1963, it was the most guarded federal prison in the US and was sometimes referred to as “The Rock.” Al Capone was one of the famous inmates held at Alcatraz.
It was one of the most feared jails of its time, and it was only 1.5 miles from San Francisco. It was also one of the hardest jails to break out of because Alcatraz Island’s seas were notorious for being icy and deadly, killing anyone who attempted to flee. Several thousands of people visit the prison each year as a museum, which it now runs as. Guests can take advantage of a self-guided audio tour or a live guided tour that features the real-life experiences of prison guards and inmates.
The prison makes itself available to tourists on specific days of the year who pay to spend the night in a cell and experience what life was like for the prisoners. Although Alcatraz Island may not be to everyone’s taste, it is nevertheless worthwhile to see, particularly for history buffs. You’ll understand why it became one of America’s most feared jails.
10. Balboa Island
A vacation on California islands would be wonderful on Balboa Island. It’s a magnificent man-made island in Orange County that may be reached by ferry or by an overland bridge, and it’s situated in the midst of Newport Bay. Many quaint bistros, eateries, and shops may be found there. Also, it offers a variety of activities, including whale viewing, fishing, and simple bike riding and ice cream consumption.
It’s a popular spring break destination for families and couples thanks to the abundance of holiday rentals.