Your Catalina adventure doesn’t begin on the Island but before you board the boat. Opened in the summer of 2012 just steps from the original San Pedro terminal, the Catalina Sea and Air Terminal is an architectural gem on the Port of Los Angeles waterfront that should be explored.
The Mediterranean inspired building has many unique architectural details and does an amazing job of connecting the mainland to Catalina Island. The terminal was designed to get you in the Island state of mind the moment you arrive.
As you walk in, the first thing you will notice is the outline of Catalina Island on the gate and the decorative tile throughout the building that is reminiscent of the famous Catalina tile on the Island. The history of transportation to Catalina is prominently displayed with a replica of an old seaplane in the center of the terminal and a large mural painted by local artist Gary Miltimore in the restaurant. When checking in, you will notice another Miltimore mural of the Catalina Express fleet. If you look closely, you can spot a couple Easter eggs in the painting including the Miss Catalina speedboats and the Channel Express, the boat that started it all in 1981.
The terminal was not only built for functionality but to provide customers with a fun experience before they set off for their vacation! The terminal boasts a putting green for some quick practice before playing on Avalon’s own golf course or mini-golf course, tables for chess, checkers and backgammon and Bocci ball. Please note you would need to bring your own equipment.
The terminal offers two dining options that is open to everyone looking for a tasty meal with a beautiful view. The Catalina Bistro is our fine dining option serving New American fare created by our executive chef Laurel Lyman. A favorite dish of mine is the fish and chips with the spicy tartar sauce. If you have a little extra time, enjoy a cocktail from our Bistro Bar and dine al fresco in our harbor side patio with beautiful views of the Vincent Thomas Bridge and Port of Los Angeles. The Express Grill is our fast service option for those looking for something quick before jumping on the boat. The Breakfast Sandwich and the Express Burger are personal favorites of mine. Both restaurants are great options that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
If you need to grab some cash before disembarking on your getaway, ATMs are available at all locations. Please keep in mind, there are a couple places on the Island that are cash-only. All major credit cards are welcome at Catalina Express.
Still not sure what activities you want to try when you are on vacation? The terminal has a sightseeing tour booth ready to help you book activities ranging from ziplining to semi-submarine rides.
The next time you plan to travel to Catalina Island try departing from our Catalina Sea and Air terminal in San Pedro for vacation starts way before the boat ride begins. Arrive early and take advantage of all the terminal has to offer.
by Guadalupe Rodriguez