If you’re ever in southern California, I’m sure you’ve been told to take a day trip to Santa Catalina Island or just simply Catalina. It’s a wonderful island just off the coast of South Carolina in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. Traveling across the sea to this beautiful island is a great adventure you shouldn’t miss out on.
It is possible to Jet Ski to Catalina and it’s quite fun and popular to do so. Plenty of tourists rent jet skis from local companies and take a ride along the ocean to the island of Catalina. You can do it alone, or with a tour guide or a travel group as well. Either way, it’s an amazing time, and you should check it out.
But going on a Jet Ski trip requires a certain amount of pre-planning to make the trip smooth and enjoyable. You have to be careful about the weather, the water conditions, and whether the island is open. There are also expenses to think of. Does all of this sound intimidating to you? Don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through everything! So, without further ado, let’s get started.
The island is usually open all year round, and any tourists can visit it. But just to be sure, you can check in with some locals or your trip advisor. You can even ask your tour guide beforehand if there are any places/beaches that are closed on some days.
How to Jet Ski to Catalina?
Jet Skiing to Catalina is a very popular tourist attraction, and a lot of people do it regularly. There are clubs, companies, guides, and plenty of resources for you, to make your trip smooth and comfortable. You can even pay for a tourist package, and they’ll do all the work for you. There are plenty of local companies that offer tourist packages to Catalina from Long Beach.
If you are planning to take a Jet Ski trip to Catalina, then here are a few things you should keep in mind.
Booking the Trip
Unless you’re an experienced jet skier, it’s always best to book a trip with a club or company beforehand. There are plenty of options, and they will provide you with all the equipment, gear, instructions and even have guides to help you along the way. If it’s your first time, then I recommend that you book a trip with a company.
You can book online, or even go physically to the company offices and book a trip on the day of. It’s still safer to book ahead of time, as they can prepare accordingly.
If you have your own gear and you plan to do this yourself, then you don’t need to book the trip. You can just go ahead as long as you have a clear idea of what to do. There will be plenty of people on the same trip, so even if you get lost you’ll probably find someone to help you out.
You can go in groups as well. It’s a lot more fun with other people around and it’s a great way to socialize with other PWC enthusiasts. If you look around, you will find plenty of local clubs that organize regular trips and plan activities together.
If you are planning to go with family, then remember that most Jet Ski packages require you to be above 16 years of age to ride a jet ski. Otherwise, you will need an escort or an adult to accompany you. Kids can ride with you, but not alone.
It’s an exciting activity, even if you plan to go solo. Just being on the water and skiing across at high speeds will exhilarate your senses. You can even see dolphins and other creatures up close while you ski. The journey is just as fun, if not more than the destination.
Once you have decided how you’re going to make the trip, the next step is to pack your stuff. You should dress lightly, preferably in T-shirts and shorts. Things you can easily change out of. Now is not the time for that expensive, flowy dress, no matter how pretty it is. Wear durable shoes, if possible water shoes.
If you’ve booked with a company, they will provide you with a wet suit that you can change into. But otherwise, you will need to pack your wetsuit and safety equipment. In case you also want to go snorkeling, you can bring along your snorkeling gear as well.
Remember to take extra clothing with you, so you can dress comfortably once you reach the beach. You should also take plenty of sunscreen, and don’t forget to use your sunscreen before you leave the house.
Along with all this, you should pack a light lunch, and water bottles in case you get thirsty. Getting off to eat at a restaurant once you reach Catalina, can take up to 15-20 minutes if you walk there. So you might feel too hungry by then. It’s best to get your own food that you can enjoy on the beach. Pack food that will survive the trip, something dry preferably.
You can bring extra snacks as well, like a granola bar or fruits or chocolates, to eat while you rest and stop on your ski. You will be able to take 2 backpacks per ski usually, so pack accordingly. You should also take some basic first aid materials and any medicine you might need.
If you’re going with your own gear, you might also want to bring helmets and a SPIRD or spot tracker. Having tow ropes and a full tank of fuel is also necessary. You will need to refuel once you’re at the beach, otherwise, you can’t ski back. Take a good reliable radio and a GPS with you in case you get lost.
Keep an eye out for the weather before you plan any trips to Catalina. The weather conditions will greatly impact your experience. While Long Beach is pretty sheltered, the water can often get very choppy if the weather is bad.
If you booked with a company or a guide, they will keep checking the weather even as you ski through. So they’ll let you know what’s up. If conditions are too bumpy your guide will either cancel the trip or delay it. If you’re already on the Jet Ski, you might even have to come back. Trust your guide’s decisions.
But if you’re going on your own, anything above 10 knots can hamper your experience. It’ll be bumpy and tiresome, and you might even fall off your jet ski. If you see a forecast for 20 knots, then cancel the trip right away. It’s not safe.
Depending on the weather conditions your experience will differ. Sometimes the water is very calm and you’ll have smooth sailing. But when the water is too choppy, it might feel very adventurous. If you have phobias related to water or the sea or don’t feel comfortable, then you should probably try other coastline activities. This is not for the faint of heart.
Reaching Long Beach
You’ll have to start your journey from Long Beach, so once you reach there, call up your guide or group and see where they are at. Your guides will give you all your equipment, and you can change into your wetsuit and wear any safety equipment you have.
Then before you start, you will probably get a bunch of instructions from your guide, who will tell you exactly how the trip will go. Listen carefully and follow all instructions for a smooth trip. Even if you are renting a jet ski, you will get proper instructions on what to do from there.
If you have your own jet ski, then board it to the dock and start on your journey. Try to stay close to other tourists, that way if anything happens they can help you out.
On the Ride
If you don’t have prior experience of jet skiing, don’t worry you will get plenty of time to get used to it. During the first parts of the journey, you will start slow and then slowly speed up. Once you get used to maneuvering the PWC, you can have fun and take in the experience. The surrounding waters are beautiful and the view is divine.
You will probably be taking plenty of breaks, and have time to rest. This is when those snacks come in handy. You can eat and quench your thirst. If you want you can even jump into the water and swim around while staying close to your jet ski. It’s an exhilarating experience, and you can tell your friends that you swam in the ocean.
There are also plenty of dolphins around, who are very friendly. They’ll swim with you as you float through the water and it’ll be unlike anything you have ever experienced before. You can even go snorkeling on your trip. The company you booked with might provide you with snorkeling equipment, or you can rent or bring your own. Do this, only if you are experienced.
The trip to Catalina is half the fun, and it’s not only about the destination. You will have a lot of fun on this adventure and if you have friends or family along it’ll become an amazing memory.
Once you reach Catalina, there’s a lot to do on the island itself. There’s plenty to check out and you can take your time exploring. Chances are though, you will be too tired to do much else after the trip, so if you’ve packed your lunch, you should rest and eat up on the beach while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Avalon Beach and Two Harbors are the most popular places to park your jet ski. It does get pretty busy though, so try to plan early. If you go to the more popular places, you will find plenty of people around and there will be restaurants and hotels to rest at as well.
If you want to go to more remote areas, then the place will be much quieter. But this also allows you some privacy if you are with friends or family. You can talk ahead with your company where they plan to explore. Or just check it out yourself.
Though the island is pretty safe, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your jet ski alone, especially if you are staying overnight. You should pay the fees for Descanso Bay, Hamilton Cove, or Avalon Harbor, which will usually provide you with dry docks to keep your jet ski.
You can dive, play some sports on the beach, go for a swim or do group activities while you are there. If you are going with a group, chances are they have a set time for beach activities before they go back to Long Beach. So you might not have a lot of time to explore.
If you want to spend more time on the island, you can book trips that allow you to do so. Talk with the skiing company beforehand, to see what packages they have. There are also places to stay on the island, and hotels as well so you don’t have to worry about where you’ll sleep. Most people, however, go for a few hours, then ride back to Long Beach for a fun, one-day adventure.
How Long Does It Take to Jet Ski To Catalina?
If you have proper jet skiing experience, then it should usually take anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes to travel from Long Beach to Catalina. With an organized tour or a Jet Ski group, it will take about 2 hours to get there, as each rider has a different experience level and hence some might be slower and others might be faster.
Time durations will usually differ from trip to trip, because of the number of people and also weather conditions. For solo trips, you will probably get there much faster. This is because groups or guided tours will usually have plenty of stops in the middle to account for slower riders.
Organized tours also plan activities like swimming or snorkeling within the ride or even separate times to play with dolphins. So groups will usually take longer, depending on how much time is spent on these different activities.
Even if you are going without a guided tour, I do recommend taking your time on this trip, as there is so much to take in and enjoy. If you are with your family or friends you can have fun and play together with the dolphins. You can do plenty of activities on the water and take rests in between to eat and take in the scenery.
The weather also might affect skiing times. If the water is too choppy or if the weather is bad, it might take longer for you to reach the shore. Regardless, expect the trip to take about an hour or 2 at max for most trips.
How Much Does it Cost To Jet Ski To Catalina?
The costs of traveling from Long Beach to Catalina will usually be around 350 USD to 400 USD, depending on whether you are traveling solo, or with a group. If you rent out a jet ski, then prices will usually be about 85 USD to 90 USD per hour. If you take all-day packages, then it might cost about 500 USD to 525 USD for about eight hours.
It’s usually much more convenient to get on a guided tour. They will cost you much less, and you can even save more money if you take group packages. You will probably have to pay about 50 USD extra for two riders on one Jet Ski if you are taking kids with you.
Most places will give you a discount for group trips. Plus the overall expenses are also divided when in a group. So try to bring along friends or family for a trip.
If you have all your own equipment, then it shouldn’t cost you a thing. Maybe you might need to buy some extra fuel for the trip and pay for food and stay on the island (if necessary). Apart from that, it’s pretty inexpensive if you have your own gear.
But jet skis themselves are often expensive and most people don’t own one. Typical Jet Ski will cost you about 5000 USD, on the lower end of the spectrum and prices can reach much higher. So if you count the cost of the Jet Ski too, then it can be pretty expensive.
What is the Best Time of the Year to Go To Catalina?
While most organized tours will happen all around the year, it’s usually best to visit Catalina during the Spring or Fall. Summers can get way too hot, and Winter usually makes the water too choppy for a smoother ride. Summer days can also be overcast until noon or later. Both the sea and the island itself are better during Spring or Fall.
Having said that, however, you will have a pleasant experience no matter when you make the trip. Depending on the seasons, the wildlife and nature change. You will get to experience different marine life and experience different traveling conditions according to the different times of the year.
Since the island and the surroundings are in a tropical environment, water temperatures are usually in the upper 60s through spring and fall. So you can even go snorkeling during this time. The weather is pleasant and not too harsh and you can explore the island with ease.
During the summer, the island has many events and music festivals as well. It is very crowded during the summer, and several cruise ships arrive regularly. If you don’t like crowds, you might want to avoid summer or check out the cruise ship schedules.
The best time to make the trip is usually during the early mornings and throughout noon. It is less crowded and you can park your jet ski easily. Plus you will have a great time exploring the beach in the warm daylight.
Is Catalina Island Worth Visiting by Jet Ski?
Yes, Catalina is well worth the hype, and using a jet ski to travel there might be your best choice. While there are plenty of other ways to travel to Catalina, you can use ferries or even a cruise ship, a Jet Ski experience is like no other. You get to experience marine life up close and take in all the scenery. It is a wonderful adventure.
If you use a jet ski you will get to experience dolphins swimming alongside you, or go deeper while snorkeling into the ocean. These are things you do not want to miss out on. Along with that, jet-skiing itself is very fun to do. You have full control and you can speed through the water, while the wind blows through your hair. The feeling is unlike anything else.
If you haven’t ever been on a jet ski, trust me you will love it. It is much faster than you think and it will make you feel like you are flying. There’s water all around you, and you will become one with the sea. And it’s pretty safe as well. Compared to other adventurous activities, there is not a lot of risk with jet skiing. As long as you can swim decently, you will be fine.
It is much easier to manage than a boat, and it’s smaller and more convenient to maneuver. You easily get the hang of it. It is also much safer than a boat. Plus, the jet skis of today are often made with eco-friendly materials and can be much better for the environment than going on a cruise ship or a ferry.
Jet skiing to Catalina makes traveling as good as the destination itself. A lot of people love the trip more than the island. The island too, however, is amazing to explore. The lively environment and friendly people will keep you entertained.
The island is very tourist-friendly and therefore hosts several events every year. There are jazz festivals, marathons, concerts, and plenty of other things happening all year round. You can take swimming tours, boat tours or even land tours. There’s so much to do while on the trip as well as on the island.
You can walk along the waterfront from Casino Point to Lover’s Point. You’ll get to see orange garibaldi fish, boats on the harbor, and even visit less crowded areas of the beach. It’s a wonderful time and an amazing idea for a date with a loved one. You can spend hours just walking and talking or listening to music.
It’s almost impossible to get automobiles on the island. So you’ll see people traveling by golf carts. You can rent one for yourself and head up the hills and visit the Botanical Garden. You can also go across town towards the Zane Grey Pueblo for an extraordinary view. There are a lot of rental places on the waterfront and plenty of tourists rent golf carts just for fun.
You can also opt to explore more remote areas of Catalina Island. It is much quieter there with very few people around. You get to see the wildlife up close. Because Catalina is so secluded, it is home to many animals and plants that are not found anywhere else in the world.
You can also choose to just do nothing at all. Catalina is a great place for relaxation, with beautiful eucalyptus trees and wild fennel that smell very calming. Just lie down on the beach and enjoy the view, after that adventurous ski trip. No matter what you do, you will have an amazing time.
Now that you know whether is it possible to Jet Ski to Catalina, you can start planning on your next trip. It’s an amazing activity and you will have a lot of fun on this adventure. With the right amount of planning and preparing yourself, you will have a smooth ride and make memories to remember forever.
You can take along your family or friends or even travel alone. While I recommend joining a group or a tour guide for this trip, even if you are experienced, you can go alone as well. Just remember to take extra precautions if you are traveling without a guide.