Top 14 Questions People Ask About Taking the Ferry to Catalina Island

The ALLURE of Catalina Island is undeniable, with its breathtaking beauty and serene ambiance. Accessible by ferry, this island paradise offers a unique escape from the mainland. As you prepare for your journey across the waters, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to answer your most pressing questions about taking the ferry to Catalina Island.

How Do You Get to Catalina Island?
There are two main passenger ferries that will take you to Catalina Island: the Catalina Express with three terminals and the Newport Flyer with one terminal. Both companies, and, offer daily service to and from the island, ensuring a convenient travel experience.

Ways to Get Discounted Tickets?
While the ferry companies themselves don’t offer discounted tickets, savvy travelers can find Catalina Express gift cards at Costco’s gift card section during certain seasons. You get a $100 GC for $80 and since a single ticket on the Catalina Express is $79 currently stocking up on these cards can lead to significant savings for your future island adventures.

Do You Need Reservations?
For those who prefer a seamless travel experience, reservations are your best bet. However, if you’re feeling adventurous and are willing to take a chance, you can try arriving early and getting on the standby list, especially if your group is small (less than four people). This has worked for us over and over again and is an insider tip for sure.

How Long Is the Boat Ride?
The duration of your boat ride depends on your departure port. Long Beach, being the busiest and shortest route, offers the most daily round trips, taking approximately 75 minutes to reach Avalon. The 3 other ports vary in time slightly give or take 15-20 minutes longer.

What Happens If I Miss My Boat?
If you miss your scheduled departure, act quickly! Call the ferry company immediately to inquire about rebooking. While the Newport Flyer offers only one roundtrip a day, you might still have a chance with the Catalina Express from Long Beach if space is available however this will require a separate ticket all together.

What Happens If I Lose My Ticket?
Surprisingly, in 2023, both ferry services only issue paper tickets. Come on guys this is 2023! If you lose them, unfortunately, you’ll need to repurchase them. Remember to keep them safely tucked somewhere secure.

Can You Rebook Last Minute?
Each ferry company has its own policies for rebooking. Once on Catalina Island, rebooking might be possible with a small fee for ticket reprinting, depending on availability of course.

Do People Get Seasick?
Yes, some passengers experience seasickness, but both ferry companies have taken measures to minimize discomfort. Stabilizers and newer vessels contribute to a smoother ride. The crew also does a good job by offering bags, clear soda drinks if needed cleaning it all up if you have lost the battle. 

Tips for Combating Sea Sickness
If you’re prone to seasickness but eager to explore Catalina Island, consult your doctor for anti-nausea patches behind the ear. They are all the rage on cruise ships and will work perfectly for your 26-mile journey to the island. If unmedicated is more your jam than for an outdoor seat where fresh cool air is swirling around your body. Sip on club soda or sprite to settle your stomach. Insider tip: If you feel on the verge of losing your breakfast, quickly find a place to lay flat on your back as these balances your equilibrium and settles your stomach.

Catalina Sea Spa - Ultimate Package

Maximize Relaxation
Not necessarily EVER asked but an insider tip for sure. Instead of getting a massage when you first get to the island, think about hitting it on your way out. Many find leaving their vacation feeling maximum relaxation is the way to end the trip. Catalina Sea Spa takes Walk-ins and at just a block from the boat terminal let it be the last thing you do on your way to the boat. Insider tip: Ask them to store your luggage while in the massage so you can straight shoot it to the boat. Check them out HERE or call 310-510-8920 to make a reservation.

General Seating vs. Commodore Lounge
Upgrade your ferry experience with the Commodore Lounge on select Catalina Express boats. Enjoy early boarding, a private seating section, and a complimentary drink and snack for a slightly higher ticket price. In our opinion it’s a no brainer.

Where Are the Ports Located?
Catalina Express has terminals in San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point. Newport Flyer’s terminal is nestled in Newport Harbor. All ports are conveniently located in beach cities in the So. Cal area.

Food at the Terminals
Before Covid the Catalina Express terminal had a restaurant and bar but unfortunately, they have not reopened. The other ferry terminals with the exception of the Newport Flyer have snack shacks around the terminal that offer a variety of quick eats such as burgers, fries, and ice creams. Since parking is tricky at this location get there early and get a snack to enjoy before the boat loads.

Random Trivia: Jumping Overboard
Tragically, every few years, incidents occur where individuals jump overboard for various reasons. In some cases, they are found, while others remain lost at sea.

There you have it! An adventure that starts with an exhilarating ferry ride from the mainland to Catalina Island. We’ve got your back with answers to fourteen burning FAQs about Catalina Island, from unraveling ticket pricing mysteries to mastering those schedules like a pro. Navigating the waters has never been this thrilling – we’re your compass to a seamless cruise, making sure you glide through transportation with ease. Get set to dive into a voyage that’s more than just a boat ride; it’s a full-blown cruise experience loaded with excitement. Unveil the secrets of ticket booking, skim through schedules effortlessly, and sail through FAQs like a seasoned traveler. Whether you’re a curious explorer or a strategic planner, our guide arms you with the know-how for a triumphant Catalina Island getaway that begins with a heart-pounding ferry adventure.