Take Catalina Express, instead of Catalina Cruises.
It's a little more expensive but well worth it. Catalina Cruises is slow and can get you much more seasick. At night when you are returning it can be hellish. Definately book reservations on Catalina Express. It leaves hourly from Long Beach and San Pedro. RT is $43 a person. You must book in advance.
The fastest was to get to Catalina's Avalon Harbor from the mainland (except by helicopter) is the on the Catalina Flyer that leaves from Balboa Pier. It only takes 75 minutes for the trip. It's the largest catamaran on the West Coast and gives you a very smooth ride. There's a nice cocktail lounge with viewing windows and if you're luck y you may see a whale during their migration.
If you are in a hurry to get to Catalina, there is a helicopter that leaves from Long Beach (by the Queen Mary) or from San Pedro at the Catalina Terminal. It makes the trip in 14 minutes. It gives you a scenic tour of Catalina's coast.
1175 Queens Highway South
The Catalina Explorer leaves daily from Dana Point to Catalina. It also makes the trip in 90 minutes. It's cruising in style with a wells stocked galley.
34671 Puerto Place
Dana Point, CA
Ferry Service from the mainland
Long Beach Downtown - Daily frequent departutes, takes about an hour. 320 Golden Shore, Long Beach. Parking available in structure across street. $9.00 a day.
Long Beach Queen Mary - Weekend departures only takes about an hour. 1046 Queens Highway, Long Beach.
San Pedro - Daily departures takes about an hour and 30 minutes. Berth 95, San Pedro
Dana Point - daily services takes about an hour, 30 minutes. 34675 Golden Lantern
Round Trip Fares:
Long Beach - Adults $42.00, Children $32.50,
Dana Point - Adults $44.50, Children $34.00,
Sorry, no such thing as car rental on Catalina! It's s extremely small community. The number of vehicles is limited and strictly enforced. You can rent a golf cart to get around but it's not necessary. Most of the hotels have shuttles to bring you up and down the hill if that is where you are staying.
Helicopter ride to and from Catalina and Long Beach are available. Prices are kind of steep. This one seems reasonable. Flying time is 15 minutes. $82 one way or $156 round trip plus tax per person. Departures from Long Beach or San Pedro
There are 8 fully stabilized vessels that travel at speeds up to 37 knots. Seating includes mostly inside airplane style but there is some outside, upper deck seating as well. A full bar and snacks are available.
Advance reservations are recommended as many popular departure times sell out. Summer weekends are also very busy and booking months in advance is advisable.
There is a 2 bag limit per person.
There are two ways to get to Catalina; by water and by air. Duh.
Anywayz, the fastest boats are run by Catalina Express. These are no ordinary ferries, as they are decked out in airliner style seats and a BAR! They cruise between SoCal and Catalina at 38knots and make the twenty six mile journey in one hour flat.
Unfortunately, these are no ordinary fares, either. At $56/pp, round trip, you're not going to make too many trips to the island; so I suggest you make the visit a great one.
The ferry service to Santa Catalina Island is the only such regular ferry service in the United States that isn't heavily subsidized by the government, although there is a resident discount coupon system provided by Los Angeles County. Thus, the fares are not particularly cheap, and to some extend residents--most of whom are Hispanic housekeepers, landscapers, waiters, cooks, construction workers, and tourist shop clerks--are held hostage on the island because of this. Except on their birthday, tourists coming to the island pay full fare, of course, and can depart from several ports on the mainland--San Pedro, Long Beach, or Dana Point and arrive at either Avalon Bay or Two Harbors piers. Tickets should be bought in advance on-line, but mid-day service will often allow ticket purchase at the port.
The trip is about an hour, and can be an inducement to vomit during turbulent weather. The ferry has two bars, one with alcoholic drinks, and I particularly recommend the spicy Bloody Mary to overcome nausea. There's plenty of outdoor seating where one can get sunburned, although by code, the management is required to board only so many passengers as there are seats available inside. This allows for fairly spacious seating, except on the first level inside at the front, which is the best place to ride out rough waves without getting sick. See the website for full scheduling and fares. Baggage isn't too much of a problem because, surprisingly enough, there's no security screening. However, dogs must be muzzled or caged, and larger kayaks and tandem bicycles aren't permitted. Among a blurry image here are the inside baggage taken during high seas, and neatly arranged confirmation and tickets.
Catalina Express departs from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point. It's only about an hour ride from LB and SP.
Round Trip Prices: *
Adult: $42.00 - 44.50
Child: $32.50- 34.00
Seniors: $38.00 - 40.50
*these were prices when I was there- they may be different now.
You can also upgrade to the Captain's Lounge or the Commodore's Lounge and that was $10 - $40 each way.
We got drinks and sat outside- I wouldn't spend $40 to sit inside and watch TV when I could be watching the waves!
There are a limited number of cars allowed on Catalina Island, so the preferred mode of transportation is the golf cart. They are everywhere, and there are even golf cart limos to transport visitors around. Rentals are available.
If departing from Long Beach you will pass right by the Queen Mary.
And due to the longshoreman's strike and slow-down, there are dozens of container ships right off the coast waiting to be unloaded.
Mapquest.com works very well for Southern California. Click on revise in the upper left had corner to enter a different address.
To see the streets, click the zoom + one notch, bar is on the left had side of the page.
This is Catalina Express. Their boats are smaller than Catalina Flyer. Their schedule is more frequent (several times a day) and services more ports than Catalina Flyer (San Pedro, Long Beach, etc.) They also stop by Catalina's other city, Two Harbors.