How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles?

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Situated just off the sunny Southern Californian coast, Santa Catalina Island is an escape that feels worlds away from metropolitan Los Angeles. This laidback island paradise is perfect for adventures, relaxation, and wildlife encounters – without traveling too far from LA.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to plan your LA to Catalina Island trip. Let’s dive in!

How Far is Santa Catalina Island From Los Angeles?

Santa Catalina Island is approximately 48 miles or 77 kilometers southwest of the Los Angeles County coastline.

With no direct road access, you’ll need to take a boat ride across the  Pacific Ocean to reach Catalina. It’s the only one of the eight Channel Islands with a substantial permanent population of around 4,000 locals.

As part of Los Angeles County, Catalina Island makes for an easy weekend escape from the city. The Mediterranean climate, laidback small-town vibes, and abundance of outdoor activities provide the perfect antidote to the urban jungle of Los Angeles.

You can walk the island’s lush interior or dive into its forests just a few hours from LA. Catalina’s ocean breezes and scenic beauty offer a refreshing pace change from metropolitan life.

Many visitors take a Catalina day trip, just long enough to taste the island’s charms. But I highly recommend staying at least one night so you have time to fully experience everything this coastal escape offers.

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Best Route From Los Angeles to Santa Catalina Island

Most people visiting Catalina Island for anything from a day trip to a two-week vacation will come from Los Angeles or surrounding areas in Southern California, like Orange County.

There are a handful of ports in the LA region that offer boat transportation services across to Catalina, including:

  • Long Beach
  • San Pedro
  • Newport Beach
  • Dana Point

The shortest distance and fastest boat crossing is from Dana Point in Orange County, taking just 1 hour 30 minutes. Long Beach is the closest port for those coming directly from LAX airport. However, the journey is not the most time-efficient option.

I recommend taking a high-speed catamaran from Dana Point Harbor for the quickest and most scenic route from LA. The swiftly gliding catamarans transport you to Catalina in just 45 minutes, compared to the sluggish 90 minutes from Long Beach.

Dana Point is about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive from central LA in normal traffic conditions. You can take an Uber, Lyft, taxi, or rental car to Dana Point Harbor, where public transportation boats to Catalina depart daily. If driving, parking is available at the harbor.

Dana Point makes a great home base for exploring the stunning Orange County coastline before or after your Catalina getaway.

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Getting to Santa Catalina Island by Tram, Ferry, or Bus

If you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive to Dana Point, there are a few public transportation options to reach the Catalina Express ferry.

By Tram

You can take the Metro from downtown LA and transfer to the Long Beach Transit Tram. The tram runs between downtown Long Beach Club and Dana Point, stopping at the harbor where the Catalina ferry departs.

By Bus

The Metro 460 bus route goes from downtown LA to Santa Ana, where you can transfer to the 76 bus to Dana Point. The 76 bus stops very close to the ferry terminal.

By Ferry

In addition to fast catamarans, the Catalina Express also has a slower traditional ferry that departs directly from San Pedro without needing to go via Dana Point. This can be handy if you are coming directly from LAX.

While the ferry and bus journeys take longer, these options allow you to get to Catalina Island without needing a car or rideshare service. Travel time is around 3 hours 15 minutes from central LA.

Best Places to Stop Between Los Angeles and Santa Catalina Island

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Dana Point is home to some of Southern California’s most spectacular coastal scenery. From Laguna Beach’s romantic coves to Huntington Beach’s surf culture, there are plenty of excellent places to stop along the way from LA.

Here are our top picks:

Ocean Views at Laguna Beach

Around halfway between LA and Dana Point, it’s worth taking a quick detour to admire the stunning ocean vistas. Stroll around the art galleries, dip your toes in the tide pools, or relax with cliffside whale watching.

Surfer’s Paradise at Huntington Beach

Keep heading south, and you’ll hit Surf City, USA. Huntington Beach is a beach town with world-class waves, a pier stretching out into the Pacific, and wide beach dwellings.

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Where to Stay When You Visit Santa Catalina Island

From luxury island resorts to cozy vacation rentals, Catalina Island offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different tastes and budgets.

The main population centers on Catalina are the villages of Avalon and Two Harbors, along with some smaller inland areas. Here’s an overview of the best places to stay during your island getaway:


Avalon is the island’s main town and hub of activity. As well as being home to the iconic Casino building, Avalon offers a great selection of Catalina accommodation.

Classic hotels like Aurora Hotel & Spa, The Avalon Hotel, and The Pavilion Hotel give you convenient access to downtown. Charming, smaller inns and B&Bs like the Hermosa Hotel, La Paloma Las Flores, and The Villa Portofino exist.

Just a short stroll from the ferry terminal, most lodging puts you in the heart of the city of Avalon shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Two Harbors

On the west coast of Catalina lies Two Harbors, a sleepy little village with a remote getaway feel. Made up of just a few quaint buildings, Two Harbors offers more rustic island digs.

You can camp near the shore at Two Harbors Campground or check into one of the cozy lodges or B&Bs like Banning House Lodge and the Isthmus Yurts. Wake up to sweeping ocean views and stroll on the palm-fringed beach.

Safari Tents

In the island’s interior, safari-style canvas tents at the Safari Bus provide a one-of-a-kind glamping experience. These luxury tents overlooking the Catalina Canyon have hardwood floors, comfy beds, electricity, and private bathrooms. The on-site restaurant serves up tasty local fare.

Best Time to Visit Santa Catalina Island  from Los Angeles

One of the best things about Catalina Island’s ideal location off the Southern California coast is its sunny Mediterranean climate all year round. Mild weather and open attractions make Catalina a pleasure to visit during any season.

Spring and fall seasons are the best times to visit Catalina Island based on weather, crowds, and prices. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect during different times of the year:

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Spring (March-May)

Spring is arguably the best time of year to visit Catalina Island. March, April, and May offer warm weather – usually 60F to 70F – without the summer crowds. You’ll also be treated to colorful wildflower blooms all across the island.

The waters surrounding Catalina warm up during the spring, making it very pleasant for snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, and other ocean activities.

As a bonus, traveling to Catalina before summer means fewer tourists and often lower hotel rates, especially in March and May.

Summer (June – August)

Summer heat arrives on Catalina in June, along with summer vacation crowds. July and August are the hottest and busiest months on the island.

Days are generally sunny and hot, with temperatures reaching into the 80s. The warm waters entice visitors to swim, snorkel, kayak, and enjoy Catalina has offerings.

While beautiful weather makes summer a popular time to visit, the peak crowds can make it hectic in Avalon. Prices also rise for hotels, tours, and activities. If you don’t mind a lively ambiance, summer can be an excellent time to experience Catalina. But don’t expect peaceful seclusion during the high season.

Fall (September – November)

The comfortable temperatures continue into the autumn months on Catalina while the summer crowds dissipate. September still has the potential for hot weather, while things start to cool down by November.

The fall shoulder season provides pleasant weather, generally clear skies, and less fog. The waters are at their calmest point, creating ideal conditions for snorkeling excursions.

With fewer tourists after Labor Day, popular hotels offer reduced rates in the fall. It’s easier to get dinner reservations and Catalina’s beaches.

How Far is Catalina Island From Los Angeles

Winter (December – February)

Catalina Island sees its share of rainy days and cooler weather during the winter months. December through February bring an average high of around 65F and more frequent rainfall.

If you don’t mind bundling up a bit, winter offers a peaceful retreat to Catalina with smaller crowds. Rainy days on the island have their own beauty, with lush greenery and even occasional snow dusting the peaks on clear mornings!

While winter doesn’t have the best beach weather, the cooler months are a nice time for hiking Catalina’s interior. Whale watching also peaks during winter. Grab a rain jacket and have the trails and lookouts practically to yourself.

Getting to Catalina Island from Los Angeles

From its unspoiled beaches and underwater marvels to its laidback Mediterranean vibe, the island lifestyle of Catalina feels deliciously detached from LA’s fast pace. Despite being just off the coast, a trip to Catalina seems to transport you to another world entirely.

Its proximity and easy boat access make Catalina the ultimate sunny Southern California getaway from the urban sprawl of the city. Whether it’s a day trip or a two-week escape, swap the concrete jungle for island life. “Sea” you in Catalina!

How long is the boat ride from LA to Catalina Island?

The fastest boats complete the crossing from Dana Point to Avalon Harbor in around 45 minutes to 1 hour. Expect boat trips to take 1.5 hours from Long Beach and San Pedro.

How long does it take to get from LA to Santa Catalina Island?

It will take you approximately 3 – 3.5 hours to reach Catalina Island in total from central LA. This includes around 2 hours of driving time to Dana Point, plus the 45-minute to 1-hour high-speed ferry crossing.

How much does it cost to go from LA to Catalina Island?

Round-trip ferry tickets are around $80 from Long Beach or $93 from Dana Point. Flights from LAX via Island Express start around $125 each way. Discounts are often available by booking online in advance.

What is the cheapest way to get from Los Angeles to Santa Catalina Island?

The most budget-friendly public transportation is to take the Catalina Express ferry from Dana Point. Round-trip tickets are $93, and the journey takes approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes total.

How do I travel from Los Angeles to Santa Catalina Island without a car?

For the quickest trip, take a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft to Dana Point Harbor and board the Catalina Flyer high-speed catamaran. This gets you to Avalon in just 45 scenic minutes!

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