We decided to go to Catalina one day, so there are a few options: a private boat, helicopter or the Catalina Express. The first two options weren't realistic, so the last one it was. The ferry isn't cheap at $38/person one way. For a family of 5 that's $76X5=$380 just to get over to the island. I looked for special rates on Groupon and Living Social but came up empty. On your birthday you get to travel for free, but other than that there were no deals.
However, the ferry itself was clean and on-time and very comfortable. We left from Dana Point which is 22 miles from the island, the trip took 1 hour and 20 minutes. We went in low season so the ferry was empty. We saw lots of dolphins on the way over, especially just off the island.
The ferry home was also on time, so don't be a straggler!
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