Catalina Island is a little island off the coast of southern California, and is still considered a part of the state of California. The small resort island includes two main towns, Two Harbors and Avalon. The Catalina Flyer is one option for traveling over to Catalina Island.
Things To Know About The Catalina Flyer:
- There appears to be a couple of options for getting over to Catalina, but when choosing which vessel to travel in, make sure to check which towns it takes off and returns to. The Catalina Flyer leaves from a dock in Newport Beach and travels to Avalon, then leaves from Avalon and travels back to Newport Beach. So, if you are instead trying to get to the town of Two Harbors on Catalina Island, then you would need to go with a different boating company that leaves from a different port.
- Another specific aspect of the Catalina Flyer, in comparison to other methods used to travel to Catalina Island, is that this boat only leaves at one time and returns at one time a day. Currently, the Catalina Flyer leaves at 9:00am from Newport Beach and leaves Catalina Island at 4:30pm, seven days a week.
- Online it states the boat ride takes an hour and fifteen minutes, but for my experience it definitely took an hour and a half, maybe even more. When keeping track of time I also took into consideration when we took off from the dock and had to slowly get out of the harbor, and the time it took to slowly dock into Avalon.
- In order to get from Newport Beach to Catalina Island, the Catalina Flyer goes at a high speed. I have never experienced significant motion sickness before(the most is if I read in a car then I feel a bit dizzy), however I was feeling nauseous on this ride and some people had to lay down since they were feeling sick. It may have also been a combination of the speed and the waves that day, but be prepared if you are prone to motion sickness.
- The boat is set up with two levels and each level has an indoor and outdoor space. The indoor space has tables, plenty of windows so that you can see outside the boat, two small bars with snacks and drinks, and televisions that were playing the news.
- The boat takes off from Balboa Pavilion in Newport Beach and you do have to locate parking within the town. I ended up choosing paid parking in a covered garage about a block from where we were supposed to line up.
- People arrived and started to line up in front of the boat about thirty minutes early. However, there is plenty of room on the boat, people moved around and changed seats during the trip, and your spot is reserved when you purchase the tickets so there should be no rush to get there early in less you are trying to buy tickets the day of the trip.
- I found the Catalina Flyer tickets for a discount on Groupon, so I would check there first. The company also offers discounts on their website if you order online ahead of time.
- During the trip over to Catalina Island, there was a tour company representative that went with the boat and who offers the chance to sign up and purchase excursions for when you arrive to Catalina Island. If you are only spending the day at Catalina Island I would recommend using them as the prices are the same whether you purchase on the boat or on the island, however we waited and by the time we got to the tour desk at Avalon, the tour that we wanted to take first was already sold out. This is also important for timing, since you have to leave on the boat at a certain time, you might want to book the activities that start earlier in the day.
- An unexpected part of the trip was that we saw plenty of dolphin, on the way there and the way back, and even a whale swimming near the boat. So be on the lookout for marine life and besides just an option for transportation, you could turn the boat trip into your own ocean expedition.
The pictures below include the Balboa Pavilion(where you meet to get on the Catalina Flyer), the outside and inside of the boat, views from the back of the boat as you leave Newport Beach, and the view when you first arrive to Catalina Island.