You Can Sea-Doo to This Island Off the Coast of Los Angeles — Racing Wild Dolphins Along the Way

A group of people on skidoos sitting in the water

Courtesy of Uncharted Society

With quaint shops and restaurants, beach clubs, campgrounds, a zip line course, and watersports, there’s plenty to do on California’s Santa Catalina Island. But while most travel the 22 miles from Long Beach by boat or ferry (and the lucky few by helicopter), one adventure company has made the journey even more fun than the destination.

Uncharted Society is a marketplace connecting BRP vehicles (think Sea-Doos and Can-Ams) with tour operators to create “transformative powersport experiences” — and their Sea-Doo adventure to Catalina is just that.

“After we have carefully selected an iconic location, we identify the local outfitters who offer outstanding experiences in that area,” reps for the two-year-old company told Travel + Leisure. Now, they have over 100 certified outfitters in five countries and 21 states running tours on land and water through every season.

Aerial view of the coast of Catalina Images

Courtesy of Uncharted Society

As a water-loving LA resident, I knew I had to Sea-Doo to Catalina as soon as I heard it was an option, and as I mentioned it to friends, our group of keen adventurers quickly grew. It takes roughly two and a half hours, including a few stops to marvel at dolphins and sea lions and a cavern swim. That's more than double the time you’d spend on the ferry, but it comes with 10 times the thrill.

Outfitted in wetsuits, we took off from Long Beach around 8 a.m. on a July morning, the water relatively calm and the sun trying hard to peek out from behind the fog. There had been lots of dolphin talk, but I was trying not to get my hopes up — until our first stop about four miles out, when we had already spotted them swimming right beside us. 

Adrenaline was even higher from that point on and we sped off through the San Pedro Channel, racing and splashing one another (from a safe distance), with no trace of land in sight. This wasn’t your average tour, with speed limits or orderly lines. Our group ranged in age from 19 to 52, but the exhilarating experience of being “lost” on a Sea-Doo in the middle of the ocean made us all feel like kids.

A group of people driving skidoos in the water

Courtesy of Uncharted Society

Although adventure takes top priority, Uncharted Society designs its experiences to appeal to die-hard enthusiasts and first-timers alike. “We truly believe at Uncharted Society that whether you get outside for a few hours or a few days, time spent in nature is transformative for everyone,” they told T+L.

Before arriving at Catalina’s Two Harbors — the quieter, more natural side of the island compared to the lively little streets of Avalon — we stopped for a cave swim through the clear, cold waters at Blue Cavern Point. By the time we touched sand and sat down for lunch on the beachfront deck of Harbor Reef Restaurant (no, we still hadn’t had enough water views), we were more than ready to demolish our mahi-mahi sandwiches followed by ice cream at the General Store. 

Aerial view of a group on skidoo jet skis on the coast of Catalina

Courtesy of Uncharted Society

We relaxed on the beach for a while before getting back on our Sea-Doos for the return journey home. The water was a bit choppier this time, but the sky had turned as blue as the ocean below. Lagging behind, I heard excited screams and sped up to find a pod of dolphins playing around in the surf as if they were racing us back to Long Beach. Being at almost eye level with these stunning creatures, and feeling like we might even be able to match their speed, was an unbeatable feeling. 

The Catalina Sea-Doo tour runs for the last time in 2022 on Nov. 30, but it will be back in early 2023 with the promise of winter whale sightings (and thicker wetsuits). For those unafraid of the cold, the winter adventures won’t stop there: Uncharted Society will take you on a Ski-Doo through the snow in West Yellowstone, power sled skiing in the Chilean Andes, or glacier riding in Alaska.

They’ve just expanded into Canada, with adventures ranging from Sea-Doo fishing in Vancouver and waterfall chasing in a Can-Am offroad vehicle in Panorama to snowy Ski-Doo excursions in Quebec and Whistler. In November, they plan to launch a Women’s Collection, part of an initiative to “grow women representation in powersports.” Currently, women represent 20% of BRP vehicle owners and around one third of Uncharted Society’s website visits, the company says. “Our hope is that Uncharted Society’s Women’s Collection will increase the percentages of women enjoying powersports through these tailored adventures."

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