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5 FAQ’s for Traveling to Catalina

Heidi Hong et al. standing around a bag of luggage

Planning a trip can be very overwhelming especially if you have never been there before. I am here to tell you that it is so easy to go to Catalina. Follow my top travel tips and frequently asked questions to prepare for your stress-free Island vacation.

a person preparing food in a kitchen“I’ve never been to the Island. How do I get started?”

The Catalina Express website is filled with a wealth of knowledge about our service as well as the Island. There you will find ideas of what activities to do, where to eat and where to stay. There are even itineraries that help you plan your trip depending on your style.

“Do I need to make a reservation?”

Reservations are not required but are highly recommended. Reservations are especially critical for travel during the summer months when the boats sell out quickly. We have a generous cancellation policy that allows you to cancel up to 24 hours in advance without any penalty.

Our schedules and fares are listed on our site to help you plan what times work best with your schedule. Our online system makes booking a reservation easy. Or if you prefer to talk to a person, you may contact one of our knowledgeable agents at 800.995.4386. If you forgo making reservations, you may walk up on the day of departure, but you are not guaranteed travel.

“Where and when do I go to check-in?”

Catalina Express has three conveniently located terminals in Southern California. The San Pedro terminal is located at the end of the 110 freeway and is the closest terminal to LAX. The Long Beach terminal provides the most flexible schedule and is only located 10 minutes from our San Pedro location. For passengers traveling from San Diego or southern Orange County, the Dana Point location will be the most convenient. For directions and parking information, please visit our port page on our website.

Check-in time for all of our reservations begins an hour before departure. Passengers must have their tickets in hand and ready to board 15 minutes prior to departure. We know that sometimes you may get stuck in traffic and not be able to make your scheduled departure time. Please give us a call before your departure, so we can see how we can assist.a group of people pulling a bag of luggage

“What do I need to bring?”

If you have never traveled to the Island, you might wonder what are the essential items to pack. First and for most, bring a light jacket and wear soft-sole shoes. Traveling on the boat does get chilly, especially if you will be spending time outside so a jacket is a must. Comfy shoes are key because walking around Avalon or Two Harbor is an integral part of any trip.

A frequently asked question is “do I need a passport?” Catalina Island may seem like it’s a world away, but you are actually not leaving the state of California so a passport is not needed. We do recommend traveling with a government-issued photo ID.

“How much luggage is allowed?”

Each passenger is allowed two pieces of luggage, no larger than 23”x23”x37” and weighing no more than 50 lbs. each, to be stowed in the luggage compartment. In addition, each passenger may bring one carry-on that fits at the seat or in the overhead bin. For items like fishing poles, coolers or strollers that don’t follow the aforementioned rules, please visit our baggage guidelines page for more information.

These are only a few tips to get you started planning your trip. Many more questions are answered on our FAQ section of our website.


by Guadalupe Rodriguez

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