USC Transportation to Catalina Island

Go directly to the boat schedule.

The USC Wrigley Institute offers transportation, Monday through Friday, from the mainland to the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. This service is available to those engaged in classes and research projects. Occasionally, due to repairs, maintenance and scheduled inspections, USC's boat is unavailable. Under such circumstances, passengers are asked to seek alternate arrangements through commercial carriers (see "Commercial Transportation to Catalina Island" below).

The boat to the USC campus on Catalina Island departs from the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI) on Terminal Island in San Pedro (south of Los Angeles, north of Long Beach). Download printable directions to SCMI here.

NOTE: Be sure to follow the driving directions from the SCMI website—please be aware that the connector ramp from the southbound I-710 freeway to westbound Ocean Boulevard will be closed permanently May 10, 2014 for approximately 30 months (view notice here). We have had reports that some GPS directions are not accurate. Download prinable directions HERE.

For information about the USC boat schedule, check the online calendar for the Wrigley Marine Science Center. For commercial transportation options, please see the listings below.

Important information

This boat transportation to the USC campus on Catalina Island is governed by USC policies and regulations of the U.S. Coast Guard. Please read the following list for important details.

  • For service Monday through Thursday, the typical times of departure are 7:30 a.m. for the trip from San Pedro to the Wrigley Marine Science Center and 3:30 p.m. for the return trip from the science center to San Pedro. For the morning trip to Catalina Island, please arrive at SCMI in San Pedro by 7:00 a.m. to allow ample boarding time.
  • For service on Friday, the typical times of departure are 8:00 a.m. for the trip from San Pedro to the Wrigley Marine Science Center and 12:30 p.m. for the return trip from the science center to San Pedro. For the morning trip to Catalina Island on Friday, please arrive at SCMI in San Pedro by 7:30 a.m. to allow ample boarding time.
  • Travel time is roughly 90 minutes one way.
  • Advance reservations are required. (The vessel has a maximum capacity of 45 passengers.)
  • The boat leaves on time, with or without all passengers listed on the vessel's manifest. Please plan on boarding 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.
  • Closed-toed shoes are mandatory for all passengers aboard USC vessels. Anyone wearing open-toed footwear, such as sandals, will not be permitted to board.
  • Smoking and consumption of alcohol are prohibited aboard USC vessels.

Reservations must be made by 3:00 p.m. the day prior to travel. To arrange for transportation, please send a message by email to: wiesboat@usc.edu.

For other information regarding the USC boat service, call the main office at the Wrigley Marine Science Center at (310) 510-0811.


Commercial Transportation to Catalina Island

Three commercial ferry services and one helicopter service provide transportation between the California mainland and Catalina Island. All of them provide service to the tourist destination of Avalon. However, service is less regular to the mid-island community of Two Harbors, where the Wrigley Marine Science Center is located.

When you work with a ticket agent to arrange transportation from the mainland to the Wrigley Marine Science Center, be sure to confirm that your reservation is for travel to Two Harbors and not to Avalon. It is possible to reach Two Harbors from Avalon by land, but the two communities are about 25 miles apart and travel between them can be difficult.

Getting to Catalina Island by Ferry

Catalina Express offers service to Two Harbors from San Pedro. (It also offers service to Avalon from San Pedro and three other locations on the mainland.) Starting in October and continuing until April, the Catalina Express only offers service to Two Harbors from its landing in downtown Long Beach. For more information, call (800) 481-3470.

The Catalina Flyer serves Avalon from the Balboa Pavilion at 400 Main Street in Balboa (near Newport Beach). For more information, call (949) 673-5245.

Getting to Catalina Island by Helicopter

Island Express Helicopter Service serves Avalon from heliports at 1175 Queens Highway in Long Beach and at Berth 95 in San Pedro. The company serves Two Harbors with charter flights for up to five people. Charter flights to Two Harbors can be scheduled from either Long Beach or San Pedro between 8 a.m. and sunset. (The helicopter service does not fly after dark.) For more information, call (800) 228-2566.

Getting around Catalina Island by bus

The Santa Catalina Island Company operates the Safari Bus which links the City of Avalon with the village of Two Harbors. The Safari Bus runs daily throughout the summer months. For more information, call (310) 510-2800.

  • USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies
  • 3616 Trousdale Parkway, AHF 410
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-0371