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Welcome Aboard the Catalina Express

Catalina Island is entering its prime season for visitors, and the Catalina Express fleet gives passengers multiple options for making the 22-mile journey to the island getaway.

CATALINA ISLAND— Depending on where you’re departing from, roughly 22 miles from the Southern California coast is an oasis that feels like another country. Catalina Island is a must-see summertime destination, and there is one ride that is overqualified to get you there— the Catalina Express. 


Founded in 1981, Catalina Express is celebrating 42 years of service to the Catalina community and visitors of the vacation destination. The fleet is comprised of four catamarans and four monohulls that feature sleek hulls, stabilizers that smooth out 90 percent of the roll, and high-tech navigational equipment and radio communications systems for safe channel crossing.


Departing from three different mainland locations, including San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point, the Catalina Express and its crew are qualified to complete up to 30 departures a day, 365 days a year, taking passengers to and from the Island in just about an hour. The Catalina Express fleet of eight vessels are all equipped with food, drinks, and facilities that will get you to the small boutique town of Avalon or the hidden village of Two Harbors.


Catalina Express vessels range in capacity from its monohulls that carry 149 passengers to the largest catamaran in the fleet, Catalina Jet, which carries 450 passengers. According to Catalina Express team member Amanda Bombard, passengers pack various items for their trip to Catalina Island. 


“Some share their Catalina experience with their pets, which have to be secured in an airline-style pet carrier or be leashed and have on a full-face commercial manufactured muzzled while in the terminal and onboard the vessel. Visitors like to explore the outdoors and bring their bikes or surfboard to use while on Catalina,” said Bombard. “These items must be included as part of the reservation, as the ferry has limited space. Both have a fare of $3.50 each way per article. Surfboards and standup paddle boards must be under 9 feet long. For other questions about what to pack on your trip to Catalina or what is allowed on the ferry, please visit or give us a call at 310.519.1212.”


Avalon is filled with boutique shopping and hotels, recreational water and land activities, and open-concept restaurants and bars for visitors who like indulging in a vacation with ocean views. Two Harbors is a rustic village with campgrounds and beaches for guests who desire the outdoors. 


If departing from Dana Point, guests will take off from the offices of Dana Wharf Sportfishing located in the Dana Point Harbor for a trip that takes about an hour and a half. Guests can park briefly in the short-term lot to purchase their tickets and parking pass for the long-term lot. For the sailings between June 17- Sept. 5, it is suggested to allow an extra 30 minutes to move your car to long-term parking and walk back or shuttle to the Catalina Express dock.


If departing from Long Beach, guests will take off from Downtown Long Beach along the waterfront by the Pike and the Aquarium of the Pacific near Shoreline Village. This trip is roughly an hour long. Overnight parking is allowed, and reservations are not required, but vehicles may not be parked for more than 30 days without a written license agreement made prior. Prices are subject to change but expect to pay about $23 daily.  


For those departing from San Pedro, you will be docking at the Catalina Sea and Air Terminal located in the heart of the waterfront promenade in the LA Port. From San Pedro to Avalon, that will cost you about an hour and fifteen minutes, and if you want to continue to Two Harbors, you can expect to add another 45 minutes of travel time. The San Pedro location is the only vessel that travels to Two Harbors. Parking is free for the first hour and then will increase to $2 per hour, with a maximum daily fee of $20. 


For more information about the Catalina Express, Catalina Island, or to book a trip, please visit

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2 thoughts on “Welcome Aboard the Catalina Express

  • Brian Aherne

    You mean the song should not have said 26 miles, but rather it depends on where you are starting from? Of course, in those days Orange County did not count for much.

    • Brian Aherne

      I forget if Dana Point Harbor even existed then, although Newport definitely did.



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