Things to Do on Catalina Island

Tours: Helicopter Tours

A Magical Private Helicopter Ride above the Island and Its Waters

"The helicopter approaches closer than any other vehicle to fulfillment of mankind's ancient dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet," mused Igor Sikorsky (1889-1972), the Russian-born American aviation pioneer who created the first practical helicopter.

That whimsical description of a helicopter ride–a journey borne on the back of Pegasus or alongside Aladdin on a Middle Eastern broadloom–perfectly captures the wonderment you're likely to feel if you book yourself and your loved ones on an air tour by helicopter over Catalina Island. The impeccably reliable Island Express Helicopter Service has made it possible for you to enjoy a magical journey above the island.

Island Express, in business since 1982, may be best known for its ability to whisk visitors to the island in just 15 minutes from the helipads at the Catalina Terminal in San Pedro,  beside the world famous Queen Mary at her permanent home in Long Beach Harbor, John Wayne Airport in Orange County  and Burbank. (The company also makes available outstanding-value day-visit packages to Catalina that include round trip helicopter fare and an assortment of land and sea tours in Avalon, as well as air hotel packages.)

Whether you get to Avalon by air or by sea, however, you should consider taking one of the company's outstanding 30 minute long air tours of Catalina, available daily. You'll lift off from one of the Island Express heliports in Avalon or at Two Harbors or Emerald Bay. Then, in a flight expertly narrated by your pilot, you'll see the island like never before. You'll swoop along the coastline, perhaps catching sight of dolphins or California gray whales while you behold a breathtaking sweep of seascape all the way to the mainland. Perhaps you'll hover over Avalon, taking in all the small city's charms from the Casino by the harbor to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens at the top of Avalon Canyon Road. Then, you'll head inland, looking down deep into the island's ruggedly mountainous interior, where you just might get a glimpse of the herds of wild buffalo that have roamed Santa Catalina since 1924. All the while, you'll have a clear, virtually 360-degree view from the helicopter's cabin.

A half an hour after departing, you'll settle gently back to earth feeling like a changed person. You'll have witnessed more of Catalina than you dreamed possible, in far less time you imagined it could have taken, from a vantage point that few human beings experience. It will, indeed, feel like you've undergone a truly mythic journey.

Booking an Air Tour of Santa Catalina
Half-hour air tours of Santa Catalina Island with Island Express Helicopter Service, as well as helicopter transportation to and from the island, must be booked in advance and guaranteed by credit card. Phone 800-2AVALON (228-2566) for reservations.

Per person fares to and from the island via heliports at Long Beach, Orange County, Burbank or San Pedro with prices beginning a $125 one way or $250 round trip, including tax. Once you are on the island, the 30-minute helicopter tour covers the whole island. Call for pricing. Children under two years of age ride for free on a parent's lap. Reservation cancellations require a minimum notice of 24 hours.

Before your flight, be sure you have with you one of the most essential pieces of equipment for any visit to Catalina: a good-quality still or video camera, which will enable you to capture scenes from your flight and enjoy them again for many years to come.

Time to Allow: Onr hour.
Reservations are required.
Prices and availability are subject to change.