Flying to Catalina Island is one of many ways to arrive

While most visitors arrive via the ferry to Catalina Island, there are other ways to get to this Southern California vacation destination. Cruise ships and private boats also bring thousands of visitors each year, but one of the most picturesque ways to arrive on Catalina Island is by flying.

Island Express offers scheduled helicopter flights to Catalina from Long Beach and San Pedro and chartered service from select Southern California airports. Scheduled flights take about 15 minutes and arrive at the Avalon heliport at Pebbly Beach.

Catalina Island’s aviation tradition includes scheduled fixed-wing service as well. Long before it was the home of Hamilton Cove villas, the cove just past Descanso Beach hosted an airport that served scheduled seaplane flights to the island. Thanks to a unique system reminiscent of a turntable, planes arrived and departed from the same space.

Today, flying to Catalina Island in a fixed wing aircraft means landing at the Airport in the Sky, one of Southern California’s most challenging airports. Widely likened to landing on an aircraft carrier, the airport’s unique topography challenges experienced pilots. Scheduled bus service and chartered van service are available from the airport to Avalon.