Boating & Transportation


The Wrigley Institute provides free transportation to and from the Wrigley Marine Science Center on our vessel, the Miss Christi. In general, the Miss Christi makes one round trip per day, Monday-Friday, between the port city of San Pedro, CA (adjacent to Long Beach), and our dock at Big Fisherman Cove. The boat usually departs San Pedro at 8:00am Pacific Time. Return times vary based on travel needs but are usually no later than a 3:30pm departure from the island. Weekend and evening trips are occasionally available, and the Miss Christi is available for charter. The boat schedule (linked below) is subject to weather.

How to Make a Boat Reservation

We recommend requesting your boat reservation as soon as you know your dates of travel, as boat capacity is limited. Note that the Miss Christi fills up more quickly during April-October, our busiest months. Priority is given to essential travel by Wrigley Institute staff and to faculty and students who are visiting the island for classes or research on sustainability and the environment. The Wrigley Marine Science Center is usually not open to the public for tours, leisure activities, etc. To request a boat reservation, complete our boat reservation form (linked below). A member of our reservations staff will review your request and respond within 2 business days.

Before traveling on the Miss Christi, please review our Boat Passenger Information page (linked below) for important information about how to access our dock in San Pedro, rules of travel, and more.

the Wrigley Institute boat, the Miss Christi, docked in the Avalon Harbor at Catalina Island

Other Boating

Located on the leeward side of Catalina Island, the Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC) offers access to miles of scenic coastal nearshore habitats typically protected from open ocean swells and in close proximity to pristine offshore open-water environments, both of which provide excellent boating opportunities for research and educational purposes. WMSC is in the heart of the Blue Cavern Onshore State Marine Conservation Area, giving boaters access to clean and clear ocean waters protected from fishing, anchoring, and collecting.

About the WMSC Fleet

WMSC maintains a fleet of approximately 10 vessels. Depending on maintenance schedules and staffing, these vessels are available for use by academic visitors. Some boats can be operated solely by visitors, while others require the assistance of WMSC boat crew. All available vessels are in proper working order, covered under BoatUS Vessel Assist Tow Membership, and equipped with serviceable required boating equipment such as VHF radios, Personal Floatation Devices, distress signaling devices, fire extinguishers, SCUBA diving support equipment, and current vessel registrations.

The fleet consists of two size classes. “Small Vessels” are 11-21 feet in length, powered by maximum 50 horsepower Honda outboards, and enable access to the Small Boat Boundary (SBB). “Large Vessels” are 16-23 feet in length, powered by Honda outboards up to 150 horsepower, and grant access to the Large Boat Boundary (LBB). Maps and full vessel information are available in the USC/WIES Boating Safety Manual, Appendices III and IV (linked below).

How to Reserve WMSC Boats

Boats for research or educational purposes should be requested through the Research Activities Plan (linked below). Submit your completed plan to Research Coordinator Victoria Sperow.

All WMSC boaters must complete certain pre-certification requirements before arriving on the island. Note that these requirements are different for USC individuals and visiting boaters. To ensure safe boating operations, you must also complete a waterfront orientation and boater training after your arrival at WMSC. For more information about pre-certification and training requirements and other Wrigley Institute boating policies, see the Boating Safety Manual.

For more information about the WMSC fleet or boating requirements, contact Marine Operations Manager Trevor Oudin or read our FAQ.

A diver emerges from the water as two boat crew reach down to help


Our campus is amazing, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to leave. Whether you need to conduct field work elsewhere on the island, take a group of students on a field trip, or just take a break in nearby Two Harbors, we can get you there. Note: to use our vehicles, you must be an approved USC driver. Driver approval requires annual renewal.

About Our Vehicle Fleet

WMSC maintains a small fleet of vehicles that can be rented by academic visitors. Available options include an 8-passenger 4WD SUV, two 10-passenger vans, and several 2-4-passenger electric cars. All available vehicles are in proper working order and equipped with first aid supplies and current vehicle registrations. Insurance coverage is determined during the application process. If you are not USC-affiliated, your sponsoring organization will likely be required to provide your insurance, with USC listed as additional insured.

How to Reserve WMSC Vehicles

Reserve vehicles in advance by emailing Onsite reservations are available on a first-come, first-serve basis through the WMSC Administrative Office.

All WMSC drivers must complete a driver application before arriving on the island. In the application, you must provide proof of a valid driver’s license, clear driving record, insurance coverage of $1M in auto liability, completion of USC’s defensive driving course, and compliance with USC’s Vehicle Safety Policy. Note that non-USC drivers may have different requirements. To ensure safe vehicle operations, you must also complete a vehicle orientation after your arrival at WMSC and comply with our check-in and check-out policies. For more information about USC’s driver policy and application process, see the links provided below.

For more information about the WMSC vehicle fleet or vehicle rental requirements, contact the Administrative Office at 310-510-0811 or

Special Requirements for Groups

Due to the remote location of our campus, we require at least one person in every visiting group to be an authorized driver of USC vehicles, in case a member of the group requires after-hours medical care.

The closest hospital to our campus is the Catalina Island Medical Center (CIMC) in Avalon, which is a 90-minute drive away on a winding dirt road. In a medical emergency, individuals should call 911 for assistance, and emergency services will respond and, if needed, transport the patient to CIMC. However, individuals needing non-emergency care, or individuals who need to return to our campus after receiving care at CIMC, will need to be transported by a member of your group.


two rows of red and silver electric cars parked on a concrete helipad