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Islands of California

Balboa Island
This is an island in the sense that it is surrounded by water. It sits snugly in Newport harbor and is full of small houses starting around $500.000 and going up in the millions as a small percentage of them are on the water. It’s fun to walk up and down the main street and look at the stuff in the shop windows. You can buy a frozen banana with nuts there if you like. The island is located at the west end of Jamboree Road off the 405 or 73 freeways. When you get in town, if you go to the second stop sign and turn right. Then go down about a half a mile and turn left where it says ‘Balboa ferry’. If you never drove your car on a boat this is the time. It’s around $2.00 for the driver and car then $1.00 for each walk on. You can take your bike across also. On the other side is a fun zone with a merry-go-round, lots of food and things for the kids. There are boat charters and boat rentals also. It’s fun to take the island cruise and learn where all the movie stars live plus many famous people. Prior to getting on the ferry on the island side try the hamburger place right on the corner. It’s old fashion good. Then you can walk south (provided you can find a parking place) and sit on the public pier and eat. The public pier is blue with a small sign denoting public. It’s the only place you will find that is on the water that’s not private.

Channel Island National Park
Just off the coast lies a group of islands; Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara and Anacapa. These islands can be visited by boat but the trip takes around one hour and forty minutes to the closest one and around two hours and thirty minutes to the farthest. Some of them have campsites and some do not. They all have great air and unsurpassed scenery. They have super hiking trails dotted with a history of people that lived on them hundreds of years ago. San Miguel is the farthest out and is plagued with fog or wind many days a year. Santa Cruz has just under seven hundred species of trees and plants covering the island. Santa Barbara is the smallest of the five islands. There is a visitor’s center on the island along with a picnic spot. Check with the Channel Islands Visitor Center before going to find out any rules or closed areas you need to know of. (805) 658-5730 or www.nps.gov/chis/

San Clemente & San Nicolas Islands
These islands lie off the shore from San Clemente tucked somewhat far behind and to the south of Santa Catalina Island. They are owned by the Navy and used for target practice and other things. No public allowed.

Santa Catalina Island
Just 26 miles off the coast depending where you start from, it’s closer from LA but there is a lot of travel from Huntington Harbor and Newport harbor also which is farther. This is our favorite island. If you have a boat big enough to make the trip or you take a charter boat, you should be in Avalon harbor in a couple of hours. This is truly an island paradise. There is botanical garden, museums and great beaches. The town of Avalon, which is only a mile square, looks not unlike a harbor town in France or Italy. When we lat were there we took a trip on a glass bottom boat. It was sensational. There are many shops and food places in town. You can rent bikes and golf carts to explore the area. Check on the legality for bikes on the island. They use to charge a fee when you rode your bike around the island. Check with the visitor’s bureau. You can rent a buoy to tie your boat up to but you need to call the Harbor Master to arrange that. The visitor’s bureau number is (310) 510-1520. The large building called the Casino is a movie house that is a must see. It was built for the first talkies and every seat in the house is good. You won’t want to go home once you are on the island.

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