Catalina Island Ferries
Catalina Island ferries are the perfect way to get to the island without spending an arm and a leg in the process. You do not have too many options when it comes to modes of transportation to get to this popular destination, except for helicopter, small airplanes, and boats. The Catalina Island Express offers daily round trip service to the island from a variety of ports along the west coast, all for a reasonable rate (especially when compared to renting a Catalina Island helicopter).
Once you arrive on Catalina Island, you will get to enjoy the raw, natural beauty of the rugged coastline, island interior, and white sandy beaches. A lot of the tourist activity centers around the harbor and the Avalon Bay, which is where you will be sailing, unless you are going directly to Two Harbors. If you are planning a trip to the island during the peak travel season of mid-April through mid-October, it is advisable to reserve your Catalina Island ferry tickets at least a few days in advance of your trip. You can buy ferry tickets the day of, but they are subject to availability. You can also find many cruises to Catalina Island from an array of ports.
Ferry to Catalina
The Catalina Island Express operates out of five mainland ports. The trip to Avalon from most of these locations takes around one hour, while a trip to Two Harbors takes around 90 minutes (this obviously varies depending upon where you are departing from, etc.) The five locations are: the Los Angeles Port of San Pedro, the Long Beach at the Downtown Landing, Long Beach at the Queen Mary, and Dana Point. If you are a resident of Los Angeles County or are visiting the area, you will just need to determine the closest port. For most people in areas like the San Fernando Valley, west and north of the city, the San Pedro or Marina del Rey ports are the best options. If you are planning to take one of the Catalina Island ferries from San Diego, you will definitely want to use the Dana Point port. This is the closest port of departure and actually is the shortest trip from any of the mainland ports to Avalon Bay. The Catalina Island Harbor is just a short ferry ride away from these four locations. The Catalina Island Express also offers one trip from Newport Beach in Orange County everyday as well.
Catalina Island Ferry Schedule
It should be noted that the ferries do not run everyday during the off season, or basically mid-October through mid-April. During this time many of the public beaches and other such places are closed as well, although the island is open for tours and all of the hotels, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants stay open. It is also worth noting that departing from Marina del Rey and San Pedro will mean a bit longer trip to Avalon (around an hour and a half), but a shorter trip to Two Harbors. It is not prohibitively expensive to travel to Catalina Island via ferry, but it is not altogether cheap either. Sometimes people try to save money by booking their ferry passage together with their hotel accommodations. This may be a good way to realize savings on your next trip to Santa Catalina Island.