California Boat Tickets & Cruises for Catalina, San Francisco, San Diego

Who doesn't love a boat ride in California. I know we do! So obsessed is our web editor with boat rides, she actually follows the schedule for the $3 boat road in Long Beach on the public transportation Catamaran, the Aqualink. Be forewarned if you take this that the captain and crew clearly want you to know that this is not intended as a joy ride. Try telling that to tourists and locals who delight in experiencing one of the best deals around. The crew makes you get off the boat and spend time looking around, and the place you really want to spend your time in is not Alamitos Landing (unless you want to spend beach time at Seal Beach beaches), but at the Aquarium of the Pacific, where there are dozens of great restaurants and Pine Avenue shops. While that ride is a favorite trip across the bay from Seal Beach to downtown Long Beach, there are some boat rides that aren't strictly public transportation offerings.

But before we get off the "cheap deals" kick, another Southern California boat ride that's ideal for a thrill is the little ferry that goes between Balboa Island and Newport Beach's peninsula. It costs about $1 on foot, lasts only a few minutes and short, sweet, and nice. Kids like it, too. But if you're walking with little ones, you may want to skip exploring Balboa Island, and just turn around and go back. They'll let you do that, but you have to pay each way.


Among these great boat tours, cruises and excursions there are some popular trips that stand out as hot ticket trips. Several of the top boat tours in California are the Catalina Island boat trip. It goes from south to north: Dana Point (1 time/day); Newport Beach (1time/day); Long Beach (many trips/day); San Pedro (1 trip/day--subject to change).  Taking the Catalina trip isn't cheap anymore. It used to be, but with rising fuel costs, it has nearly doubled in the past several years. Still, a day or vacation on Catalina is well worth the expense. For trips out of San Pedro, Long Beach an Dana Point, you'll need to book Catalina Express. Here's a full page about the trip, plus photos.  And here are  Catalina Express TicketsIt can get so darned confusing remembering the boat excursion names and where they depart from. But to simplify it, if you are leaving from Newport Beach, here's the boat you need: Catalina Flyer - Newport Beach.


Newport Beach is a boaters paradise. In addition to the ferry boat, you'll find Duffy electric boats (invented here), fishing boats, whale watching tours, Christmas lighted boat tours, gondola rides, narrated cruises and dinner yachts, and a new offering from Hornblower Cruises and Events, the Sunset Cruise. 


San Diego boat rides include the affordable ferry between downtown and Coronado. But for something unique, take a tour of the USS Midway Museum on the water. If you need to be moving, then treat yourself to our absolute favorite, the Hornblower Dinner Cruise on the San Diego Bay. With the warmest bay temps in all California, this is one of the best spots to enjoy a dinner cruise, and the food is great. Only in San Diego can you ride the America's Cup Stars & Stripe sailboat. It is the highlight to any San Diego vacation for us water junkies.

catalina express boat ride to catalina photo travelers on boat to catalina's avalon

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