Thinking about sailing out to the wondrous Catalina Island or chartering a yacht out to it? Here’s what to expect as a first timer.
Here’s a brief ‘need to know’ when planning a trip out to Catalina.
An Intro to Sailing Catalina Island
First, you have the option of taking the ferry, which makes many trips every day, or you can charter a yacht. Sailing yachts are available in two styles: classic and power.
California Classic Sailing
These are traditional 1950s-style gaff-rigged vessels with one or more masts. They range in size from 44 ft to 52 ft long and accommodate anywhere from 4-8 passengers.
Sails are either made of a cotton or nylon blend, a type of canvas that is very mildew resistant and provides a classy old-world feel.
Sailing on these yachts typically includes both barefoot sailing with the option to take the helm as well as sleeping aboard in a cozy sanctuary with a warm atmosphere created from the many windows and dimmable lighting.
California Power Sailing Yachts
These boats are available as either an open cockpit or cabin cruiser style. Sizes range from 39 ft to 50 ft, accommodating 4-8 passengers. Sails on these yachts tend to be made of more modern materials like Dacron. Sails can be reefed, as well as furled and unrolled depending on wind conditions.
Sleeping accommodations typically include a cabin with beds and privacy curtains for those who prefer to sleep on land, and an option for sleeping under the stars if you’re adventurous.
Marina Del Rey
Marina Del Rey is a large man-made harbor in Los Angeles.
It is situated close to the airport and makes a perfect location for both tourists and residents who want to quickly get out onto the water.
You’ll find that there are some small charter boats as well as larger yachts available for you to rent as an individual, couple or group.
There are some great restaurants in the area that you can enjoy right on the water or dockside.
Marina Del Rey is a great place to get away for just a few hours or spend your whole day there while visiting Los Angeles.
Boating is a very popular activity for many people in the area and Marina Del Rey would be a perfect location to go from. There are also some great places in the surrounding areas that you can visit while you’re there such as Venice Beach.
This is a great place to have lunch while out on the water. There are actually several locations of this restaurant, so you’ll be able to find one no matter which marina you are at.
Southern California Charm
Santa Monica Bay is situated in the Los Angeles area on the west coast of California. It is located on Santa Monica Bay, so many people refer to this area as simply Santa Monica.
There are plenty of activities for everyone in your group including boating , diving and sightseeing .
You can enjoy some delicious food while out on the water at one of the many restaurants that are available.
There are beautiful beaches and places to visit all around the bay including Venice Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach to name just a few.
Catalina is one of the most popular places to go for boating in Southern California because it is so close by.
Yacht Is the Best Way to See Santa Catalina Island
Catalina Express Sailing Schedule:
Catalina Express is scheduled for over 400 trips per week. Boat schedules vary depending on the season, but typically runs between 7am and 8pm.
The ferry makes stops at both of Catalina’s ports: Avalon Harbor (for the Hotel Descanso and S S Catalina) and Two Harbors (for the campgrounds).
The ferry takes an 1 hour to reach Avalon, 45 minutes to reach Two Harbors. You can also take a helicopter from either of those ports to the airport if you don’t feel like taking your car over for your trip back home.
Avalon Sailing Charters
If you do choose to charter out of Avalon Harbor, there are several well-loved local yachts that will take you on a fun filled day trip around the island. Some will even offer snorkeling and kayaking opportunities if you’re interested in exploring more.
You can arrive to Avalon either by ferry or helicopter, and then plan your outing based on yachts that are available for Charter.
What Sailing Charter Company to Book With?
The yachts you can book with are very popular among locals for many reasons. Some people look at them as an experience rather than just a ride out to the Island. The yachts are very well taken care of, fun to sail with excellent captains.
Booking with a yacht is often more suitable for groups, families or people who have never sailed before because it tends to be less expensive than booking a private charter.
Sailing charters typically take place between 8am and 6pm. That being said, you can also charter a yacht for overnight trips.
There is no age limit when it comes to sailing yachts, however passengers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Sailing charters and power charters offer different experiences and prices vary depending on what you’re looking for.
For example, you may not want to have a fully involved boat trip with a complete crew but would enjoy a private cabin as you slide through local waters.
While the weather may not always cooperate and you can’t predict what it will be like, Sailing charters are available every day of the week.
Private Sailing Charter Costs:
All vessels have a skipper on board with at least one mate to help out with larger groups.
Typically when you book a full day charter, lunch is included. Sails are typically taken down around 4-5 pm unless that is negotiated into your charter agreement beforehand.
Typically, if you’re on a power yacht, the cost of fuel is either included in your trip or refunded at the end of your boat charter.
Power Charters Cost:
Typically powerboats include the boat, fuel and skipper. Private charters for 3 hours or less usually cost around $225-$350 dollars per hour plus taxes. Sailing power charters are typically between $450-$650 per hour including taxes.
Booking a Sailing Charter:
The best resource people can use to help plan a Sailing Charter is the online forum where people can ask questions about what to expect from their sailing trip.
It also includes a list of different Sailing Charters and helpful tips from those who have been on the island for a few seasons.
One thing to remember is although S S Catalina offers Sailing Charters, it also offers Powerboat Charters as well.
If you’re considering booking a Sailing Charter out of Avalon Harbor, yachts are run by different companies and not the Hotel Descanso.
There are also some individuals who have smaller sailboats or powerboats that they rent privately which makes this Island a more accessible destination than ever before.
Booking a Charter with someone privately is up to you, but can be something fun for your group complete with an adventure of its own!
Sailing the beautiful Catalina Island
What can be said more about the beautiful Catalina Island? The island and surrounding local waters are perfect for an adventure to say the least.
Whether you’re a novice or a pro, there’s something for everyone. You just have to know what you want when planning your trip!
One of the most popular activities is going on a Sailing Charter out to Catalina Island and back in one day.
For this type of outing, you can either book with a yacht or book a private charter for four hours or more.
Zipping around by boat or sail for transportation
The easiest way to go about your day is o start at the Catalina Express, which is an efficient and affordable option compared to driving to Catalina Island yourself.
After you take the boat out of San Pedro, it’s just 45 minutes until you arrive in Avalon.
Once you arrive, spend the day exploring the island or docking at one of the amazing restaurants before taking the boat back to San Pedro.
If you are booking a private charter for your group which is more than four hours, keep in mind that everything on Catalina Island closes between 5-6 pm so you won’t have as much time as you would like.
The best thing to do is book a sailing charter for the morning hours and take the afternoon to explore and sightsee around Catalina Island. The first option that most people who visit think about is booking with an individual or a private company.
Santa Catalina Island: More Details
The island of Catalina has a great history. Before being discovered in the 1800s, people thought it was just a myth.
The island became popular when George Shatto began to purchase the land in the 1880s and developed what is now Avalon Harbor.
It has had its share of ups and downs for tourism since the discovery, but remains one of California’s most attractive and beautiful islands. There are many wonderful facts about the island that many people do not know. For example, did you know that it is actually a living thing?
The land is both biologically and geologically active which contributes to its unique beauty.
Many people come to access and stay at one of the hotels on the island or to explore the Catalina Island Conservancy. There are also many other activities to do such as sightseeing, hiking, fishing, swim, mooring, and more.
Catalina Island is a world of its own and truly like no other place you would ever experience. The amount of things to do there seems endless and it’s something that must be experienced. This makes this Island a perfect place to visit for your next family or group outing.