SoCal / Travel

How to go to Catalina Island Completely for Free

Photo courtesy of Notable Travels


Life has its ‘ah-ha’ moments and recently I was the lucky recipient of one of them.  As travelers, we are always on the lookout for the best deals out there–last minute bookings, fare alerts, holiday specials, and accidental price drops on airline tickets; you name it.  Sometimes these are the only opportunities we get to actually go to some of these places.  I believe these deals are wanderlust karma for all the hard and often-times tedious research we put into our obsession to roam.

As a beach dwelling resident of Los Angeles, the beautiful island of Santa Catalina seems but a stone’s throw away.  Yet, I’ve yet to venture out in the 10+ years I’ve lived here.  There’s no doubt that Will Ferrell certainly shone a spotlight on the 22-mile-long island with the grand finale of his film, Stepbrothers, taking place at the “fucking Catalina wine mixer”.  But, despite it’s beachy appeal and short boat ride away, tickets are usually $90-96 roundtrip, making it quite an expensive commitment right off the bat.  It’s not to say it isn’t worth it.  Who am I to judge if I haven’t experienced it.  However, it has been brought to my attention that there are ways to get incredible discounts and even go for free if you are smart about it.  So, although it is odd for me to write about a destination I have not yet visited, it still seems like something worthy to share.



I love a good deal and Catalina offers quite a few.  Next time you’re planning the next adventure, think of cruising over to this gorgeous piece of the Channel Islands archipelago.  With the right forethought into planning, you could essentially take a completely free trip to Catalina Island, including transportation, activities, food and dessert!

Getting There for Free

  • Sign up now to receive a free roundtrip ferry ride on the Catalina Express on your birthday!
  • Valid only for travel on your birthday with a return to the mainland within 30 days of departure.
  • ID may be required for proof.


Photo courtesy of World Property Journal

Other Discounted Travel

  •  Every leap year, there are special package deals and accommodations for insanely discounted prices.  You must sign up before the cutoff date in order to receive an email with the special offers but if you get them in time, you can snag the $29 leap year super discount.  Roundtrip ferry, hotel accommodations at the Atwater Hotel and a three-course meal, all for $29 each.  You can’t beat a deal like that.
  • Get yourself 20% on a helicopter ride to the island on your birthday or anniversary on Island Express!  Valid for the week before or after the date of the birthday or anniversary.
  • The HeliSpa package offers both one way or roundtrip helicopter ride as well as either a Classic Catalina massage or Sea of Life facial.



Descano Beach Club

Birthday Perks & Freebies

  • Stay at the Aurora Hotel and Spa on your birthday and receive two free tickets to the Catalina Island Museum.
  • The Snug Harbor Inn sure knows how to pamper you on your birthday.  Enjoy a complimentary bottle of champagne or wine, celebratory balloons, continental breakfast brought to your room each morning, wine and hors d’oeuvres each evening, 10% off at Avalon’s best retail stores and a free gift!
  • Combine your free ferry ride with your stay at the Seaport Village Inn to receive a free third night stay.
  • Earn yourself a 10% discount at the Casa Mariquita Hotel on the night of your birthday.
  • Life is like a box of chocolates, especially on your birthday at the Catalina Island Inn.  Receive a complimentary box of Lloyd’s of Avalon chocolates plus your choice of champagne or sparkling cider. Must ask for the “BIRTHDAY SPECIAL” at the time of reservation (like most of these specials) and present ID with proof of birth date at check in.




  • Get a 20% off at the Hermosa Hotel on a two-night stay in a Preferred room.
  • Get a “suite” deal at the Hotel Catalina and Courtyard Garden Suites.  Stay for 1 night on your birthday and receive 10%, stay 2 and receive 20%. Guests also receive 10% discounts for breakfast, lunch & dinner at, and with a meal purchase, a free dessert at EL Galleon, Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant, Original Jack’s Country Kitchen or Antonio’s Pizzeria & Cabaret on your birthday. 10% off on any tour from the Catalina Adventure Tours.
  • Hotel Metropole offers 20% discount on any room, a $50 savings on a couples massage at A Touch of Heaven Day Spa. Additional nights 10% discount.
  • Live a little.  Receive 10% off your guest room at the St.Lauren Hotel.


Photo by Catalina Island Explorer 

Ask shops for specific birthday discounts and giveaways!

  • Free game of bowling on your birthday at Three Palms Avalon Arcade
  • Rent a bike for two hours at Brown’s Bikes on your birthday and get the rest of the day for free, plus a bottle of water!
  • Hiking permits may be required, but they are always free and available the day of upon request.




  • Visit the Catalina Island Conservancy for free on your birthday.  See the Wrigley Memorial and botanical garden with no admission fees!
  • Enjoy a free round of mini golf at Golf Gardens on your birthday!
  • Dive in!  Get free rental equipment on your birthday at Scuba Luv.  Includes mask, fins, snorkel and suit. Must have credit card for deposit.
  • Worked up an appetite?  Head to Avocado Cafe and dig into some Dole Whip, on the house on your birthday.
  • At the Buffalo Nickel Restaurant, enjoy any item on the birthday menu, free of charge. They’ll even provide you with free shuttle service to the restaurant and back to the docks.
  • Need a pick-me-up?  Stop into the Catalina Coffee and Cookie Co. for a complimentary cup of coffee.
  • For those sweet tooth out there, pop over to Lloyd’s of Avalon for a free scoop of ice cream.

Photo by Jack Baldelli



DeziStyle About Author

Mom, model, host, traveler and co-founder of Yourlixir superfoods! Life is an adventure and I'm here to share how our little family lives it with style - DeziStyle.

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