If your fantasy is to have the most wonderful California beach vacation ever, head for the Catalina Island area. Located 22 miles from the bustling city of Los Angeles, getting to Catalina Island requires a fun trip on the Catalina Express ferry, which lasts for about an hour. Once there, you can choose to spend your days going on fun island tours, participating in outdoor recreational activities, shopping, and eating great meals at fine seaside restaurants. Catalina Island vacation rentals are near many of the best beaches, and you’ll find numerous ways to kick back and live the carefree beach lover lifestyle.

1. Catalina Island, California

catalina island beach
Source: Flickr/Michael Gray

Santa Catalina Island, popularly known as Catalina Island, has a colorful history. Inhabited for at least 8,000 years, the island has been used at various times by hunters, smugglers, ranchers, and the Mexican military. Once privately owned by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., this vacation area allows you to enjoy the good life in a luxurious home near historic landmarks. Fun outdoor activities include bike riding, golfing, jet skiing, and riding zip lines. Curious about the ocean? Go snorkeling or scuba diving for a day. On land, get back to nature by taking a romantic stroll through the beautiful Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. Or, tour the Catalina Island Conservancy, snapping pics of wild buffalo grazing, and other local fauna and wildlife.

2. Newport Beach, California

newport beach
Source: Flickr/Ken Lund

Located in Orange County, this popular beachside community offers luxurious vacation home living right on the beach, or nearby. This upscale community is home to one of the areas most beautiful public sandy beaches, and you can stroll the water’s edge from sun up to sundown. The Newport Beach pier is dotted with small boutiques and restaurants for locals and visitors. This is a great place to sunbathe, swim, fish, and pick up souvenirs. If you’re in the mood, walk or bike to Balboa Pier and enjoy a nice meal at Ruby’s Restaurant near your vacation rental.

3. Long Beach, California

long beach
Source: Flickr/Gail Frederick

Long Beach is a bustling port city located southeast of Los Angeles. During your stay at a luxurious home, you’ll have easy access to numerous fun activities. Designated as the “Aquatic Capital of America,” there is a variety of ways to experience its waterfront. Spend a day with the kids at the amazing Aquarium of the Pacific, home to an array of intriguing sea animals. The Long Beach Waterfront is a great place to dine, hear live music, and watch life go by. Check out upscale homes while walking the canal at Naples Island. If you’re a history buff, touring the magnificent Queen Mary of World War II fame is a must. The El Dorado Nature Center is a little slice of natural wonder with birds, turtles, rabbits, and lizards making a home there.

4. Huntington Beach, California

woman surfing
Source: Flickr/troy_williams

Huntington Beach is a populous city best known for being a major American surfing hub. Each summer, the city plays host to worldwide surfing events. Relax and kick back in a centrally located home near the beautiful sandy coastline. Gaze out at the rippling tides of the ocean from the Huntington Beach Pier. The pier is also a nice place to grab a bite to eat. If you want a fuller beach experience, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach State Park are idyllic choices. Want to learn how to surf during your visit? Several local surfing schools offer surfing lessons to kids and adults.

5. Costa Mesa, California

carousel court
Source: Flickr/Orange County Archives

This former farming community turned family-friendly city is a suburban slice of life in Orange County. Plan your getaway during July to enjoy the great Orange County Fair. Or, go in the fall to take in the Annual Scarecrow and Pumpkin Festival. Choose a cozy abode or luxury home near fun cultural activities. Slip on your walking shoes and get ready to shop until you drop at South Coast Plaza, an upscale shopping mall. For a different type of shopping experience, check out the cool artsy vibe at The LAB Anti-Mall. Relaxing outdoor places to unwind and enjoy a picnic include Fairview and Tewinkle Park.

6. Seal Beach, California

seal beach
Source: Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Seal Beach is nestled in the western part of Orange County, and this city hosts various annual fun cultural events for locals and visitors. Rest in a luxury home near the beach, shops, and local hang outs. Making your way to the beautiful beach shore is easy to do, and you’ll see sunbathers and surfers hanging out. After visiting beach side shops and restaurants, stroll along the pier for a gorgeous ocean view. If you’re a big foodie, enjoy an array of culinary delights on a Seal Beach food tour.

7. Redondo Beach, California

pelicans
Source: Flickr/Jeremy Miles

Come and spend your dream vacation living in a luxury home in Redondo Beach. This sports-loving community of peaceful neighborhoods offers refreshing seaside ocean views. As soon as you’re settle in, head on down to Redondo State Beach for sunbathing or a game of beach volleyball. Mingle with locals, eat scrumptious seafood, and watch pelicans hanging out at the pier. For family fun, bring the kids to see marine life exhibits at Sea Lab, and then let them splash around at the Seaside Lagoon.

8. Hermosa Beach, California

hermosa beach
Source: Flickr/Adam Barhan

This quaint beach city located in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County offers luxury living near a sandy beach and gently lapping waves. Wake up each day smelling the fresh ocean air, and then head over to the Hermosa Beach Pier for a relaxing day of seaside lounging. During the week, mosey on down to the Farmer Marks to check out fresh produce, specialty foods, and handmade crafts. In the evening, enjoy a nice meal and plenty of laughs at The Comedy and Magic Club.