What to expect on the ferry to Catalina Island

Catalina Express ferry to Catalina Island

While there are other ways to get to Catalina Island, for more than 100 years the most popular has been on a boat. For decades the most popular Catalina transportation option was the Catalina Steamer, which carried thousands of passengers at a time between San Pedro and the isalnd

Known to locals more formally as cross-channel carriers, today’s ferry to Catalina Island is smaller, faster and much less glamorous than the Catalina Steamers of yesteryear. On the other hand, that Catalina ferry ride is now just about an hour and –thanks to the use of modern stabilizers – is much smoother. Two companies offer ferry transportation to Catalina Island, Catalina Express operates a fleet of boats from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point; and Catalina Passenger Services operates a boat from Newport Beach. No matter which company they travel with, passengers on the ferry to Catalina Island need to be responsible for their own luggage. Size and weight limits as well as restricted items differ based on the company – passengers should check the website for more details.

Once onboard, larger luggage is stowed for the ferry trip to Catalina Island.  Passengers can keep smaller items with them, such as backpacks, camera bags and beach bags. Snacks, cocktails and other refreshments can be purchased onboard, but only with cash.  While onboard, keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and the first glimpse of the Catalina Casino, Avalon’s iconic landmark.