Distance from San Diego: 65 miles to Dana Point; 112 miles/1.09-hour drive to LB; 1.53-hour drive plus 1-hour ferry ride
Why it made the list: Let's see... beautiful beaches, scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling, camping, spearfishing, paddleboarding, hiking, zip-lining, off-road tours, dolphins, parasailing, and roaming buffalo all on one tiny island. What’s not to like? Also, the main mode of transportation there is golf carts, which are the best.
Pro tip: You can catch the ferry in either Dana Point or Long Beach, but either way, book your ferry ticket online or over the phone in advance to make sure you get a spot on the boat at the time you want. Reservations can fill up pretty quickly during busy travel times, so if you just show up the boat may be full. Also, take Dramamine! Nobody wants to be seasick.