CATALINA ISLAND BOUND
ALL ABOARD THE CATALINA EXPRESS
Looking to get to Catalina Island? Swimming isn’t a real option and unless you have ‘mad duckets’ to spend on a helicopter ride, which is an option (it’s a 10-minute flight and costs between $125 to $150 each way), you’ll want to go via Catalina Express.
Currently celebrating 30+ years of smooth sailing, Catalina Express is the leader of marine transportation to Catalina Island. Each year, more than one million passengers set sail to Catalina onboard Catalina Express.
“It’s amazing to see how much the business has grown and changed over the past 30 years,” says President, Greg Bombard. “I believe the success of Catalina Express has been made possible because of our loyal customers and employees. From the reservations agent to the captain and his crew, our goal is to offer passengers more than a boat ride, but a memorable vacation experience.”
With ports in Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, a boat ride to Avalon on Catalina Island takes approximately an hour and fares cost roughly $40 one way (an extra $15 will upgrade you to the Commodore Lounge, which includes snacks and a complimentary cocktail).
Make sure to register online for free travel to Catalina on your birthday.
Today, the Catalina Express fleet consists of eight high-speed vessels, including four catamarans. The largest vessel in operation, the Catalina Jet has the capacity to carry nearly 500 passengers across the channel. Catalina Express offers up to 30 round trips daily.
If you’re leaving from the more recently renovated Catalina Sea and Air Terminal in San Pedro, make sure to stop for breakfast at Catalina Bistro, and if you’re in a hurry and want food on the go, you can always visit the more casual Express Grill.
The Breakfast Flatbread topped with ham, Swiss cheese, onion, red bell pepper, tomato and two eggs over medium is a great dish to share. It’s hearty and will really get you up and about in the morning.
A must-have if you’re sharing is the hefty The Pastromelette (aka ‘Wes” Mess), a breakfast beast consisting of shaved pastrami, Swiss cheese, onion and red bell pepper wrapped in a fluffy omelette, served with breakfast potatoes and rye toast. This is a Catalina Bistro original and really hits the spot.
Other great breakfast options include the delicious Blueberry Pancakes (they also serve Chocolate Chip Pancakes), which come with two eggs and your choice of bacon, sausage or ham, as well as the Breakfast Burrito. The Catalina Bistro bar also offers Bison Milk, which is their variation of Catalina’s Buffalo Milk (minus the vodka).
My only issue with the Grill is that it opens at 7am on Saturdays and the first boat to Catalina departs at 8am, which makes breakfast a bit rushed. We couldn’t really relax and take our time, as we needed to make sure to pre-board on time. But everything worked out and we enjoyed a killer breakfast that satisfied and kept us going strong through lunchtime.