Beach vacation guide

From all-to-yourself islands to hidden beach towns to iconic coastal experiences, the West has the beach vacation of a lifetime in store for you

Top 21 island escapes

Plot your escape to one of the West's best islands--places so lovely you won't want your time there to end

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Channel Islands National Park, CA
Lisa Vander Meulen

Channel Islands National Park, CA

It takes your catamaran roughly an hour to cross the Santa Barbara Channel from the Southern California mainland to Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz, part of the Channel Islands. And during that time, the world with all its worries falls away. The pretty cobbled beach is just a launching point: From here, you can snorkel in the diverse kelp forest just off the beach or paddle a kayak farther out, past the island’s dark cliffs and sea caves. On the short hike from the beach up Smugglers Road to the high bluff and the stand of cypress pines known as Delphine’s Grove,  you’ll fall under the spell of a sweeping ocean view and the sound of the wind in the boughs.

More: Top 10 national park beaches

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