Catalina Express Vs Catalina Flyer – Planning Your Next Island Visit

Catalina Island offers many ferry and charter boat options to visitors looking to experience its stunning scenery, from the Catalina Express to private charters and helicopter rides for those wanting an extra luxurious trip experience.


Catalina Island can be reached in several ways, with ferry travel being both affordable and efficient. Departures depart from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point ports with two-day packages available that include meals and accommodations; you can purchase tickets either online or from ticket outlets nearer your location.

Cost of ferry travel depends on factors such as passenger count, departure location and itinerary. Off-season ferry fares tend to be more cost effective; peak season generally runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend but you can save money by booking your tickets early online.

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Weather conditions also play a key role in a ferry’s cost. High winds and rough seas can reduce speed significantly, taking longer for them to arrive at Catalina Island. Full passenger loads also weigh down the boat further and slow it down significantly.

If you’re traveling to Catalina with luggage or sporting equipment that exceeds normal size and weight restrictions, as well as additional fees for larger or heavier items, it is essential that you check with the ferry company’s baggage policies prior to setting sail. Most ferries have size and weight restrictions with additional fees applied if items exceed those limits; however there may be exceptions; for instance IEX Helicopters offers convenient flights directly from Long Beach and San Pedro direct to Catalina Island.

Travel Time

The Catalina Express ferry company provides passengers with an enjoyable journey to Santa Catalina Island located 22 miles off California’s coastline. Since 1981, over one million passenger crossings annually have taken place through this service; offering various onboard services as well as multiple departure points. It is strongly advised that tickets be purchased ahead of time to save money and secure a spot aboard. Also remember to arrive early to the terminal so you can sign in and obtain your boarding pass!

Pack light to cut travel time and increase enjoyment on the journey, and it is wise to check the weather forecast prior to leaving home for your voyage so as to determine whether it is safe and comfortable to take the ferry ride.

Four ferry options run daily between Long Beach port and Catalina Island, operated by two companies and offering up to 30 trips daily. Travel time takes roughly an hour; alternatively IEX Helicopters will transport passengers there in 15 minutes.

Onboard Amenities

Catalina Express operates year-round ferry service between Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point on the mainland and Avalon and Two Harbors harbors on Catalina Island. Their eight elegant vessels make up to 30 round trips daily while boasting amenities such as comfortable indoor/outdoor seating areas, bars, snacks and VIP lounge.

To make your journey as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, purchasing tickets in advance is recommended to guarantee yourself a seat on the ferry you would like to use and save both time and money by doing so. In fact, buying your tickets early could save up to 25%.

Catalina Express tickets can be purchased directly through its website, phone line terminals and authorized resellers such as travel agencies, hotels and tour operators. Travel agencies, hotels and other authorized resellers often offer packages that combine transportation with activities or attractions on Catalina Island.

Preparing ahead for your Catalina Flyer trip is essential as peak times can become extremely crowded. Also consider packing light as more passengers increase weight and speed restrictions for the ferry service.


Without knowing someone with access to a boat or wanting to pay extra for a helicopter ride, the best way to reach Catalina Island is via ferry service. Two popular choices are Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer; each offers scenic journeys while differing in cost, travel time and onboard amenities.

Both ferries have several departure points throughout Southern California, such as Dana Point, Long Beach and Newport Beach. For locals with daily trips from each port, Catalina Express may provide more convenient transport – but for travelers interested in seeing more scenery while traveling towards Catalina Island.

Ferry rides to Catalina can be an enjoyable, relaxing experience that lasts roughly one hour. When planning your journey, weather conditions should be taken into account when making plans; storms, strong winds and rough seas may impede ferry operations, forcing it to slow down or even cancel altogether.

If you want to avoid harsh weather conditions on your visit, choose either spring or fall as they offer more moderate temperatures without competing with summer tourists. Or take an unforgettable helicopter flight from Long Beach with IEX Helicopters for an efficient and fun journey over to the island!