Santa Catalina is the island of romance, as the song goes, but it’s also an island for family fun. It provides all the water sports, such a swimming, fishing, kayaking, diving and boating, and also has mountains and canyons for hiking. You might even get a glimpse of the buffalo herd whose ancestors were left on the island by a movie company! Make sure you and the kids visit the Catalina Island Conservancy, the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden with its cacti and other blooming desert plants, or Hermit Gulch Trail Loop. Take the kids snorkeling or go for a dive around a wreck or kelp forest. At night, you and the hubby can visit the casino and marvel at its gorgeous ballroom and theater, which was one of the first one to accommodate talkies. It still shows movies of course. Climb the mountain to find Airport in the Sky, or charter a private plane and just fly up.

One of the many pleasant things to do in Catalina is getting there in the first place. Fast, roomy ferries travel between Catalina and the mainland up to 30 times a day. Before you kick back, enjoy the ocean, and watch as the beautiful island comes closer and closer check out the top 11 Catalina Island vacation rental locations for your vacation.

1. Avalon

This is Catalina’s largest city. Head to Descanso Beach, and rent kayaks, snorkels, other water sports equipment or rent a cabana and enjoy the waiter service. Be sure to order the buffalo milk! Take the kids to the Catalina Island Museum, which has an exhibit devoted to the Chicago Cubs. Why? Because of Mr. Wrigley, who owned the Cubs, also owned Catalina Island.

2. Two Harbors

This little town is at the opposite end of Catalina Island from Avalon. Head to the Diving & Recreation Center to rent anything you need for your outdoor sport of choice, which may include fishing, boating, snorkeling, mountain biking or hiking in the mountains. Two Harbors is also a great place for a picnic, so pick up some vittles at the General Store. Eateries include Harbor Sands and Harbor Reef Restaurant, which serve locally caught fish.

3. Long Beach

Long Beach is on the mainland, and one of the ferries runs from this city to Catalina. But Long Beach has its own delights, ranging from its beaches to the stunning helicopter tour to Hollywood and L.A. and the helicopter tour of Catalina Island itself. If you’ve brought Fido on vacation, he’ll adore Rosie’s Dog Beach. Don’t forget to visit the Queen Mary, a luxury liner that’s now permanently docked in the harbor

4. San Pedro

San Pedro is another town that offers ferry service to Catalina. A suburb of Los Angeles proper and part of its bustling harbor area, many of its attractions are related to maritime pursuits. Take the kids to visit the USS Iowa, a battleship that is now a museum, as is the SS Lane Victory. Visit the Los Angeles Maritime Museum and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, which exhibits the different marine life found off southern California.

5. Huntington Beach

This big city south of Los Angeles is famous for its surfing, the big waves made possible by the hydrodynamics around Catalina Island. Indeed, its nickname is Surf City, and you should visit the International Surfing Museum. Take a stroll on the pier and when you reach the end, hop into Ruby’s Diner for good American chow. Other eateries in Huntington Beach are Sushi on Fire, Sancho’s Tacos, and the Sugar Shack Cafe, which is renown for its breakfasts.

6. Newport Beach

Stand on the balcony of your Newport Beach vacation rental on a clear day, and you’ll probably be able to see Catalina Island. Newport Beach draws visitors for the whale and dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing. It even has a ferry, but this one will take you to Balboa Island. Once there, enjoy the pier and the amusement park.

7. Laguna Niguel

This suburban city is known for its bike trails and lanes, so you and your family should rent bikes and indulge. These trails connect the dozens of parks around Laguna Niguel. You and the kids may be surprised to see such a wild place as Laguna Niguel Regional Park in the midst of the city. Go boating or fishing in its lake, or relax in the grass and watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

8. Dana Point

Found between Laguna Niguel and San Clemente, Dana point is another Catalina ferry terminus. If the kids love whale watching, Dana Point is the place to go. If anyone in the family loves sports fishing, Dana Point is also the place to go. You’ll find roomy vacation rentals from sophisticated condos to “shabby chic,” flats on the beach.

9. Santa Ana

This city gave its name to a dry, strong wind, and the best time to experience it is in the fall. Other attractions are the Artist Village and historic districts. One famous art museum is the Bowers Museum, which exhibits art from the Pacific Islands and ancient China. Don’t miss the Santa Ana Zoo, which is required to keep at least 50 monkeys.

10. Anaheim

Anaheim is the home of Disneyland. This is reason enough to visit, but there’s more. You and the kids can take a day trip to Universal Studios in Hollywood and experience rides based on King Kong, Jurassic Park, and other spine-tingling movies. Anaheim vacation rentals often have two car garages and their own swimming pools.

11. San Clemente

This city has its own state beach and is home to the Shorecliffs Golf Club. You can hike the coastal trail or visit the Farmers Market if you want to fix a meal at your vacation rental. It opens in June, and you should get there early in the morning for the best selection. Little ones will love Courtney’s SandCastle Universal Playground with its safe monkey bars and a soft ground to fall on.