This rocky little Shangri-la with a manifestly Mediterranean charm and star-studded past lies just off the sunny southern California Coast. Originally settled by indigenous peoples, across the years the island saw use as a smuggling center, a trading post, prime ranch land, gold mining destination and hunting ground before successful development into a popular tourist destination by chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley. Catalina’s population barely exceeds 4000, most of whom occupy the only incorporated city, Avalon, with the rest living in Two Harbors; almost everyone tools around via golf cart as the use of motor vehicles is restricted. Conservation is a way of life here, and beautiful Catalina is home to dozens of protected endemic species; a small herd of American bison – descendants of a handful brought over from the mainland for film production – roams the island, mingling with the native wildlife. The deep, blue waters surrounding this tropical sanctuary are a fisherman’s dream; a thrilling diversity of watersports, outdoor activities and tours by land, sea and air keep guests jammin’ from dawn ‘til dusk. A range of fantastic accommodations – from beach-front hotels and charming huts to luxurious condos and a four-star country inn – promise a comfortable stay year-round, and an excellent menu of dining options starring fresh, local seafood ensures something for every palate. By day, Catalina caters to even the wildest sense of adventure; come sundown, a vibrant nightlife beckons. Come for the day, stay for a week; who knew paradise was so close to L.A.?