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How to Get to Catalina Island

a small boat in a large body of water

Now that you’ve finally decided its time to experience Catalina Island for the first time, you have even more decisions to make and how to get to Catalina Island is an important one.

Most visitors to Catalina Island arrive via Catalina ferry – also referred to as cross channel carriers. Currently there are two companies offering regular ferry service to the island: Catalina Express and Catalina Passenger Service.

Catalina Express, with its fleet of boats, offers the most departures, with several round trips per day even in the winter. The company also provides service from several different ports on the mainland: Sant Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. Which port you depart from depends on which port is most convenient to you. Keep in mind, however that Long Beach tends of offer the most departures.

Catalina Express also offers service to both Avalon, where most of the visitor services are, and Two Harbors, a remote – but quaint – destination on the island’s West End.

Catalina Passenger Service offers departures from Newport Beach aboard the Catalina Flyer. It operates most months, taking a break in the winter. The Catalina Flyer departs Newport Beach at 9 a.m. and Avalon at 4:30 p.m.

No matter which Catalina ferry company you choose, you can expect comfortable seats, snacks and a full bar on board. Dolphins and whales are often sighted, and the ride takes just over an hour.

One of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to island is: will I get seasick on the way to Catalina? For most people, the answer is no. The seas between the mainland and the island are not normally too rough and all of the vessels are equipped with stabilizers – as well as experienced captains adept at minimizing the impact on passengers. If you are particularly prone to seasickness, several over-the-counter remedies are available. Frequent travelers also find that getting fresh air on the boats’ outdoor decks is also helpful if the seas are rough.

Another way to avoid seasickness – as well as arrive on the island in celebrity style – is to travel to the island by helicopter. IEX helicopters, previously known as Island Express, offers on-demand charter service from Long Beach and San Pedro as well as several other mainland airports. The flight takes about 15 minutes and travelers arrive at the Pebbly Beach heliport, about a mile from the main part of Avalon.

a plane flying over a body of water