Just Go to Channel Islands National Park - How to Get to Channel Islan – Just Go Travel Studios

Just Go to Channel Islands National Park - How to Get to Channel Islands

California Channel Islands National Park

Even though Channel Islands National Park is just about 30 miles away from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area (with an estimated 17+ million people!), it remains as being one of the lesser visited National Parks in the United States, ranking at #43 out of 60 parks in attendance.  However, if you consider only the people that make it to one of the islands (rather than just the visitor center), it would rank in the bottom 10 in attendance! 

Considering many Californians have a desire to just “get away from it all” (even if it means leaving the convenience of sushi and Starbucks for a few hours) it’s amazing how few people make the journey to this incredible oasis of pristine landscape and wildlife.

For those that want to go, figuring our transportation to Channel Islands National Park can seem like a mystery.  This is exactly why we wanted to put together this guide on how to travel to Channel Islands National Park!

Channel Islands National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANNEL ISLANDS OVERVIEW

There are five islands that can be visited: Santa Cruz Island, Anacapa Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island and Santa Barbara Island, which sits all alone, away from the other four.  The islands range from Santa Cruz (which is 24 miles long) to the tiny Santa Barbara Island, which is only 1.5 miles in length.

All five offer something special and are worth visiting.  While some are less visited than others, all will allow you to get away from civilization and enjoy California in a way that isn’t possible anywhere else in the state.

Please note: Just Go Travel Studios is not affiliated with any transportation services to or from Channel Islands National Park-this information is provided to aid you with planning an amazing trip!

HOW TO GET TO SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Santa Cruz Island Map

Santa Cruz Island Map, courtesy of the National Park Service

Santa Cruz Island is approximately 20 miles from Ventura, and the most popular island to visit (due to its proximity to the mainland, size and facilities (which are limited!).  Our family visited the island in the late winter and loved it-you can read about our adventures in our blog, A Day Trip to Santa Cruz Island.  There are several ways to get here:

  • Island Packers Cruises to Santa Cruz Island: There are two landing areas for Island Packers Cruises on the island: Scorpion Anchorage and Prisoners Harbor. Both are available if you want to head over just for the day, or if you want to be dropped off for a single or multi-day camping trip.  Cruises to Santa Cruz Island depart from Ventura (driving directions), but make sure you check your reservations ahead of your trip as going to the wrong location isn’t an easy thing to recover from.  The boat ride to Santa Cruz takes about one-hour total, depending on how much wildlife is encountered along the way (which is especially common in the winter and summer).

Dolphins and whales on the way to Channel Islands National Park

  • Private Watercraft: Traveling to Santa Cruz Island is allowed in a private watercraft, and no permit is needed on National Park land. However, about 76% of the island is owned by The Nature Conservancy.  If you’d like to take a day trip and make a landing in land owned by the Nature Conservancy, you must apply for a permit.  You should allow at least 15 days for approval.  Note that there is no camping allowed in Nature Conservancy land.

Channel Islands National Park Itinerary

What to do, the best hikes, what to do in the area and what to pack for your trip to Channel Islands are covered in our detailed, downloadable itinerary for Channel Islands National Park.

HOW TO GET TO ANACAPA ISLAND
Anacapa Island Map

Anacapa Island Map, courtesy of the National Park Service

Anacapa Island is just 12 miles from Ventura.  For details on Anacapa and what to expect, check out the blog from “journey2allnationalparks” here: Channel Islands National Park: Anacapa Island.  There are two main ways to get to Anacapa:

  • Island Packers Cruises to Anacapa Island: There is only one landing area on Anacapa Island, which is the East-End Landing Cove. Cruises are available for both day-trips and camping trips.  Anacapa Island cruises depart from both Oxnard (driving directions) and Ventura (driving directions), so definitely be sure to check your reservations!  Expect to be on the boat for just around an hour.
  • Private Watercraft: Traveling to Anacapa Island is allowed in a private watercraft, and no permit is required.

Island Packers for Channel Islands National Park


         

         

        HOW TO GET TO SANTA ROSA ISLAND
        Santa Rosa Island Map

        Santa Rosa Island Map, courtesy of the National Park Service

        The second largest of the Channel Islands, Santa Rosa Island is 40 miles from Ventura, but only six miles away from Santa Cruz Island.  There are three ways of getting to Santa Rosa Island:

        • Island Packers Cruises to Santa Rosa Island: Bechers Bay is the only landing area on Sana Rosa Island, which is on the northeast side of the island, which is the second largest of the Channel Islands. Cruises are available for both day-trips and camping trips, but be advised that trips to and from the island only happen about every other day during peak times, and 2 days a week during the slower months.  No cruises are available between mid-November and March.  Santa Rosa Cruises depart from Ventura (driving directions).  Expect to be on the boat for about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
        • Channel Islands Aviation to Santa Rosa Island: Departing from the Camarillo Airport, Channel Islands Aviation flies charter flights to the airstrip at Bechers Bay. The flight is about 25 minutes.  While this will save you time over a cruise, be prepared to spend a bit of money.  Flights are available year-round.
        • Private Watercraft: Traveling to Santa Rosa Island is authorized in a private boat without any need for a permit.

         

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        HOW TO GET TO SAN MIGUEL ISLAND

        San Miguel Island Map

        Santa Cruz Island Map, courtesy of the National Park Service

        Located about 70 miles from Ventura, the westernmost island in the chain has been worn down from weather more than any other island.  There are two ways of traveling to San Miguel Island:

        • Island Packers Cruises to San Miguel Island: The only landing area on San Miguel Island is Cuyler Harbor, which is accessed by an inflatable boat from the ferry. Day-trip and multi-day camping trip cruises are available during the summer months (April through the first part of November).  San Miguel Island Cruises depart from Ventura (driving directions).  Expect to be on the boat for about 4 hours on your way to the island.  This means that if you really want to see the island, you’ll have to participate in camping.
        • Private Watercraft: Traveling to San Miguel Island is authorized in a private boat without any need for a permit. However, to see the inner part of the island, you need to be accompanied by a National Park employee or a member of the Island Packers team.

        Heading over to Santa Cruz Island


           

          HOW TO GET TO SANTA BARBARA ISLAND

          Santa Barbara Island Map

          Santa Cruz Island Map, courtesy of the National Park Service

          Located 54 miles from Ventura, this is the smallest of the islands.  Unfortunately, it will be a challenge to get here, as the landing area on Santa Barbara Island was damaged during winter storms in 2015 and 2016 and rendered it useless as of this writing.  Trips from Island Packers are not available at present time, leaving only one option-taking your own private watercraft.  Once you arrive, you’ll have to navigate the rocky coastline and land your boat near the damaged dock.

          PRIVATE AIRCRAFT

          Private aircraft are not allowed to land on or near any of the Channel Islands.

           

           

           

          FURTHER INFORMATION ON CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

            Custom posters from Just Go Travel Studios
            A sample of a custom travel poster we've made.

                OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION ON CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

                • Of course, you need to check out the great site that the NPS has for Channel Islands National Park. In particular, make sure you review the info they have on the flora and fauna that is unique to each island.
                • April (from theunendingjourney.com) has a terrific blog on a day trip to Anacapa Island.  Information on each island can be tough to find, and April’s blog is extremely thorough.

                Just Go Travel Studios at Channel Islands National Park



                   

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