The Channel Islands are an island chain located off the Southern California Coastline. The national park consists of 5 islands spread across 160 miles of ocean, reachable only by boat or seaplane. Their isolation has left them almost totally undeveloped, offering beautiful landscapes, nature and tranquility. One of the least visited parks in the US, if you are wanting to explore sea caves, glimpse at jutting rock cliffs and sea nature you can't anywhere else, plan a visit to Channel Islands National Park.
Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz is the largest of the five islands, at over 22 miles in length. Partially owned by the NAture Conservancy about 1/3 is open for the general public to explore. Located about 2 hours from Ventura it has a plethora of activities and is open year round. Start your adventure at Scorpion Beach, which offers kayak and snorkeling rentals in the summer. Santa Cruz Island has the longest sea cave in the world. Sign up in advance with one of the outdoor companies like Santa Barbara Adventure Company for a great kayak tour of many sea caves around the island. Hiking is also great here, with many trails. Keep your eyes peeled for the island foxes. Camping is also allowed on the island, just make sure you pack out what you pack in.
East Santa Cruz Island is also often frequented by dive companies for crystal clear exploration of kelp forests. Rich in anemones, garibaldi, sea hares, urchins, and much more.
Getting There: Island Packers Daily ferries year round.
Anacapa Island offers wild rock cliffs and great ocean views. It sits just 11 miles off the coast of Oxnard, making it the most visited and closest of the Channel Islands. It has a small visitors center inside the old Coast guard building and a relatively flat 2 mile hiking trail. You can visit an old historic lighthouse, have a picnic and participate in snorkeling or other water sports.
Getting There: Reachable by boat year round on Island Packers- check schedule for specific days and times.
Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island has deep canyon and rolling hills. Check out the historic ranch house. The island once was home to a herd of cattle. Walk along Bechers Bay or take a hike along the rugged path to Black Mountain. The journey to Santa Rosa takes about 3 hours by boat, but you won't be disappointed.
Getting There: Island Packers Ferry from Oxnard or Ventura: Seasonally from April to November 2-4 days a week
Santa Barbara Island
Santa Barbara Island is one of the greatest islands for viewing marine life. Home to a sea lion rookery, time the visit right and you will see hundreds of sea lions swimming and frolicking in and around the island. The smallest island in the park, the rocky cliffs make for great photos while also offering great hiking and water-sports.
Getting There: Spring through Fall 2-4 days a month
San Miguel Island
Reachable by ferry this island is also on the smaller side, but has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife with more than 30,000 animals on the island. bring your hiking boots and take a 16-mile guided hike around the island to see some of the unique creatures that call the island home. It does take about 3 hours to reach the island but it is an unbeatable experience.
Getting There: Ferry Service April - November 4-8 Days A month