Mediterranean-Style Resort in the Southeastern Foothills of Catalina Island
Hiking and biking trails crisscross the mountains in southeastern Catalina Island, winding past rugged terrain speckled with St. Catherine’s lace and prickly-pear cacti. Many of these trails are just a short walk from Catalina Canyon Resort & Spa, a Mediterranean-style property overlooking the town of Avalon.
The private balconies of some guest rooms open to views of the mountains; others look out onto the resort’s heated pool, set in a courtyard shaded by towering palms. At the Spa at Catalina, you can enjoy a soothing treatment such as an organic seaweed body wrap administered in a candlelit room.
Catalina Island, California: Desert Foliage and Secluded Coves in the Pacific Ocean
The rocky Catalina Island is only about 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, but it’s a world away from the crowded metropolis. For starters, there are hardly any cars here; golf carts are the preferred way to get around. Much of the island’s interior is unpopulated, home to a vast array of native desert foliage and wildlife. Visitors can hit the many secluded coves that dot the landscape for sunbathing or snorkeling in temperate waters among starfish, sea urchins, and bright-orange garibaldi. Travel + Leisure called these coves “ready-made for romance,” naming Catalina one of the world’s most romantic islands in 2010.
Much of Catalina Island is accessible only by challenging dirt trails, but you can see many of its endemic plants in town at the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden. Some of the featured vegetation can only be found here, including wild tomato and rare Catalina mahogany. The memorial itself was designed to incorporate as much local material as possible, including quarried Catalina stones, blue flagstone rock from the harbor, and hand-painted tiles from a local pottery company.
You can get to the gardens by catching a taxi or tour bus from nearby Avalon, the island’s only major city. This small village, with a surrounding backdrop of steep, amphitheater-like hills, occupies only about 3% of the island. Still, it’s where most visitors spend the majority of their time, thanks to a popular beach, a lively harbor, and a surprising variety of restaurants. The most famous landmark here is the art-deco-style Casino building. Surrounded by the sea on three sides, the circular structure stands at the equivalent of 12 stories tall and houses an art gallery, a museum, and a theater.