Catalina Island: Ferry Deals for Day Trippers

My husband and I are California kids from way back, and Catalina Island has been one of our favorite ways to enjoy a day away from the big SoCal cities. The fun starts with the Catalina Ferry (more about that below).

Most of the time we just mosey around the town. But it’s even more fun to plan ahead for adventure. You can book a food tour, take a cruise, rent a souped-up golf cart or bike — every time we do something different.

Bang Way To Go To Catalina Island

If you’ve never been to this magical place, here’s what you need to know. The Island is a mere 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, but it feels like a world away from the crowded city.

The air seems fresher. Desert plants and wildlife give the island a more natural feel. Secluded coves are great for sunning, snorkeling, and kayaking. Find out why Travel + Leisure called these coves, “ready-made for romance.”

One of the most popular side trips from any Southern California destination, Santa Catalina Island is a popular getaway any time of year, and it’s just a short 22 miles off the SoCal coast, an hour ferry ride away.

Getting to Catalina Island is part of the fun. You can get to the island by ferry from ports in Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point, and Newport Beach. Or take the helicopter from Long Beach, San Pedro or John Wayne/Orange County Airport.

Want to know where to get tickets for less on Round-Trip Ferry Transportation? You have options with the offers listed below.

You’ll have plenty of time to shopping, relax on the beach, snorkel, kayak, golf, see the sights, play all day in the sun or work on your tan.

Catalina Island Ferry Discount Tickets

This is the best source we found for Catalina Island Ferry Discount Tickets round trip from Dana PointLong Beach, and San Pedro.

These ferry discounts are for high-speed ferries (catamarans), making the trip easy and fun. We found the ferry ride smooth and comfortable with nice sun decks, full bars, food and snacks. Here’s what you get:

  • At least $2 Off per ticket. (It looks like you save $4 but there is a $2 ticket fee.)
  • Any Day tickets. You will receive a voucher that will give you instructions to call a toll-free number to confirm your desired date and time. Make sure you read the fine print on the source websites for any restrictions or blackout dates.

1. Catalina Express Ferry Service From Dana Point To Catalina Island

From Dana Point Harbor (conveniently located off Interstate 5), this is a 1.5-hour ride to Catalina Island is a fun side trip from San Diego or Orange County.

The ferry service operates daily (schedule varies by season). It fills up fast, so book online in advance.

Bang tip: you can take bikes on the ferry. Go early and you can enjoy the Dana Point waterfront shops, marinas, restaurants, and the park area with picnic areas.

2. Catalina Express Ferry Service From Long Beach, San Pedro

The passenger ferry service offers round-trip crossings to the towns of Two Harbors and Avalon on Catalina Island, California, from the ports of San Pedro or Long Beach on the mainland.

Fees are included in the price you see (follow the link for current pricing). Print a voucher and go.

Note: Sorry to say, Catalina Ferry discontinued their “free ferry ride on your birthday” offer.

3 Popular Catalina Activities

You’ll find plenty of outdoorsy fun on the island. A savvy option is to get tickets in advance because you can often save over paying the price at the door.

I like to get out on the water, so I scoped out following offers from trustworthy sources. (Forgot my sunscreen, but all three were fun.)

1. Catalina Island Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Guided from your smart phone, your team will solve clues while exploring well known and hidden gems of the city.

2. Catalina Island Undersea Expedition 

I love this one because you can see Catalina’s amazing marine life from under the water. The 45 minute cruise takes you five feet under water. As you pass through the cove, a deckhand will share interesting stories and even feed the fish.

You’ll have your own seat and port hole, and you can also wander around the cabin to look through other windows.

3. Catalina Island Ocean Runner Adventure

Takes you out into the Catalina Channel on a high-speed Ribcraft (rigid inflatable 500-horsepower boat that seats 12), the same boat that the Navy SEALs use. Great for adrenaline junkies. We saw dolphins and sea lions.

4 Outstanding Catalina Island Tours

Catalina Island tours are a fun way to enjoy the area. You’ll see all the things you missed last time you when to Catalina. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Catalina Food And Walking Tour

This is a 3-hour, small-group walking tour of Catalina Island where you’ll sample good foods from six locations and get a feel for the history and architecture of the island.

2. Catalina Island Day Tour

Take a day trip from Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice, or Marina Del Rey. You’ll see wildlife, buffalo, and vegetation and learn about the island’s history. Includes the ferry and the option to include guided activities.

Two Harbors Catalina Island (Photo by D Ramey Logan)

3. Catalina Island Zipline Eco-tour

This tour is a day trip from Anaheim or Los Angeles, via ferry. The zipline tour takes you over the hills and canyons near Avalon. Your tour will stop at eco-stations to learn more about the island and its eco-history.

4. Catalina Island Helicopter Tour

By helicopter is one of my most favorite ways to see this beautiful island. You’ll see amazing views of blue waters and rugged mountains, with spectacular photo opportunities, pilot commentary, history and points of interest.

6 Savvy Catalina Hotels

The beach at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1903 (Library of Congress)

Staying over? Here are a few hotels to check out on Santa Catalina Island. Here are a few Catalina hotels we’ve stayed at over the years.

Also see reviews and booking info on this Catalina Island hotels page on TripAdvisor.

1. Casa Mariquita Hotel: Catalina’s newest built hotel, centrally located ¾ block from the main street & beach.

2. Catalina Canyon Resort and Spa: Catalina Island’s only full service resort and conference hotel. European Day Spa, heated pool, restaurant and free shuttle. What’s not to like?

3. Hotel St. Lauren: My favorite! One of the Islands’ finest romantic hotels, featuring 42 luxurious guest rooms overlooking Avalon Bay, CA.

4. Catalina Island Seacrest Inn: Flowers and lace curtains, Victorian decor, kind of romantic.

5. Pavilion Hotel: Upgraded and just 14 steps from the beach in a 71-room 2-story hotel. Huge garden courtyard area.

6. El Terado Terrace: All new 400 square foot Deluxe Hotel Suites with new granite counter tops fully equipped.

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