January 11, 2015

Boating to Catalina Island: distance from LA harbors

Most boaters in Los Angeles will eventually take their boat out to Catalina Island. Boating to Catalina is certainly the best boat trip possible from LA. Before you go, it's helpful to know how far the main LA harbors are to the Catalina harbors (Avalon and Two Harbors). I am providing the boating distance from: Dana Point to Avalon, Dana Point to Two Harbors, Newport Beach to Avalon, Newport Beach to Two Harbors, Huntington Beach to Avalon, Huntington Beach to Two Harbors, LA harbor to Avalon, LA harbor to Two Harbors, Marina del Rey to Catalina distance (Avalon and Two Harbors.

Boating from LA to Catalina Island.

Dana Point to Avalon:  33 miles (29 nautical miles)

Dana Point to Two Harbors: 38 miles (33 nautical miles)

Newport Beach to Avalon: 26 miles (23 nautical miles)

Newport Beach to Two Harbors: 32 miles (28 nautical miles)

Huntington Harbor to Avalon: 25 miles (22 nautical miles)

Huntington Harbor to Two Harbors: 27 miles (23 nautical miles)

LA Harbor to Avalon: 25 miles (22 nautical miles)

LA Harbor to Two Harbors: 22 miles (19 nautical miles)

Marina del Rey to Avalon: 38 miles (33 nautical miles)

Marina del Rey to Two Harbors: 31 miles (27 nautical miles)

(distances are measured from the outer navigational buoys of each harbor, values are rounded to the nearest mile)

Boating to Catalina Island

boating to Catalina Island
Boating to Catalina Island: distances from harbor to harbor

If you are a power boater, these distances should be all you need to approximate your travel time. If you're a sailor who wants to put the sails up, then your travel time will be much more variable. I've written a more thorough post about sailing to Avalon from San Diego, Dana Point and Oceanside.  Keep in mind, the California current moves north to south. Most weather (wind) comes out of the northwest. Depending on the direction of the swell, you may be in a swell shadow (and wind shadow) for most of the journey between LA and Catalina Island. In general, expect to be running with the wind and swell for much of the return journey, but against the wind and swell on the journey towards the island.

If you're planning on taking your boat out to Catalina, you should have at least one boating guide book on board. Brian Fagan's book is the standard guidebook for the area. The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California. There is a very thorough section on boating in and around Los Angeles and exploring all the anchorages and harbors around Catalina Island and the surrounding Channel Islands.

Have a safe journey!

Incidentally, people often ask me which do I prefer, Avalon or Two Harbors. The honest answer is that they're both great. It just depends on what you're into.

The people watching in Avalon is top notch. There's nothing better than snagging a mooring ball near the beach, cracking a beer and watching the parade of dingys and tourists cruise past. You get a lot of big fancy powerboats and yachts coming in from LA, so its always funny to read the latest yacht names on the mega-boats and see how that class of folks is doing.
On the other hand, if you want quiet serenity, you want to head up to Two Harbors. You have miles of empty, scenic trails and the Harbor Reef restaurant. Plus in my opinion, the snorkeling is better up by Two Harbors.

2019 Update: Here is the latest website to get a reservation for your boat at Avalon or Two Harbors.


Anonymous said...

thanks for this, we are heading to two harbors from redondo harbor,
you know the exact miles for that?

Captain Curran said...


I just looked it up
From Redondo Harbor - you're looking at

27 land miles
23 nautical miles

to get you to Two Harbors on Cat Island

Have a great journey!

Steve Sepassi said...

I have a 32' power boat I want to take to Catalina tomorrow (9/3/2016). Do I need a dinghy there, or can I dock next to a pier or something for the day?

Captain Curran said...

Steve Sepassi,

Well, there is a fuel and loading dock at Avalon - but they will not let you park your boat there for the day.

You can maybe stay there for 30 minutes, if you buy fuel and then tell them you need to go buy something in town.

But they will be pressuring you to leave the dock fairly soon, as there's a lot of boats that are coming and going.

So - if you want to hang for the day, you can anchor outside the mooring field and dingy in.

Have fun.

Unknown said...

I have a 2200v (22ft) center console patherfinder with a 150 Yamaha vmax. Interested in going to the island, I would leave from Dana point. Any pointers, suggestions, or worrys? Thanks for the info in advance!!

Captain Curran said...

Hey - you're center console pathfinder should be fine. Definitely make the crossing. You want the flattest seas possible.

So, leave early in the morning, before the wind gets on the water. Flat water means faster crossing and a more pleasant ride.

Also you need to monitor swell height and swell period. In general, if there is anything over a 3 foot swell, I would not go. The only caveat here is - if the wave period is long enough - then a 3-4 foot swell won't be an issue.
But - don't push it - just wait for a 1-3 foot swell between Dana and Cat - and you will enjoy the experience much more.


Unknown said...

Hi there,
We're planning a trip to the island 7/19/19 i have a 05 bayliner 194 with a 3.0 v6 is that gonna be capable of the cross? how do we get a spot for the boat then get on the island is there a dingy taxi?

Captain Curran said...

Yep - she will get there as long as the engine is in good shape - just make sure the seas are fairly flat for travel days. Of course, it depends where you're leaving from - in terms of distance to Avalon.
Yes, there's mooring balls waiting for you and water taxi but show up early to get a spot - and visit the avalon marina website to see about reservations.

Captain Curran said...


avalon mooring info

Sv seascape MDR said...

Hey captain, just curious , any issues with a Catalina 22 swing keel sailing from MDR to two harbors? All keel hardware has been replaced and functions as designed. Small outboard . Plan to sail . Thanks in advance

Captain Curran said...

I see no issue with that set up.... If using a 22 foot boat, just be conservative with marine conditions. You don't want to be out there with swells stacked up...

Unknown said...

Hi Captain Curran,

I have a trailer sailor, 22 Chrysler. Where can I launch that I won't get my mast caught on a bridge? As close to Catalina as possible. Thanks

Tony .. said...

Hey captain..
Best time to leave from long beach to catalina in the morning to fish and a good spot and best time to head back first timer 26ft boat ..