There are many natural wonders at the Channel Islands National Park. The remote and unpopulated islands off the coast of California offer a glimpse of the place before the existence of motorways and fast food joints.
The park covers a mile of the Pacific Ocean that laps the stony coastlines of islands, including the five rocky islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara. The outer islands of San Miguel and Santa Rosa are also part of the Channel Islands. It is referred to as North America’s Galapagos Island. It only takes a short boat ride from the Southern California coast and is perfect if you want solitude, pristine nature, and fresh sea air.
The Channel Islands California National Park has a number of distinctive features, including its biodiversity. A variety of native creatures, including small island foxes and birds, are protected because the islands were never connected to the mainland.
The Channel Islands National Park offers different activities aside from observing animals. Some activities include hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and fishing.
Discover more about the stunning features of Channel Islands National Park by reading our list of the best activities to do there.
Top Seven Things to Do in Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands National Park offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It is a fantastic location for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving. You can enjoy peaceful, relaxing times here with your loved ones.
Channel Islands CA consists of five islands. The mile-long body of water surrounding them makes it difficult to choose where to go and what to do. We’ve included the activities you shouldn’t miss when visiting Channel Islands.
1. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Channel Islands National Park is one of the world’s best diving sites. The kelp forests that surround you while scuba diving give the impression of soaring over a lush jungle. They also protect sea lions and seals from predators. Sea fans, sea stars, and colorful sponges that cover the rocks are seen there.
Marine life is striving because of the unpolluted sea that surrounds the islands, which the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary protects. The sea is home to various whale and dolphin species and other creatures like sea bass, halibut, bright-orange garibaldi, moray eels, California spiny lobsters, abalone, and octopus. Nearby diving shops offer activities, including day trips to islands and multi-day liveaboard cruises.
Scuba diving is a nice activity to do here. The Channel Islands Adventure Company rents snorkeling equipment and conducts supervised snorkeling adventures at Scorpion Anchorage in Santa Cruz Island.
2. Taking the Ferry
If money is not an issue, you can fly to Channel Islands California, but we suggest that you take the ferry. Island Packers, a Ventura-based company, offers departures to all five islands at various times and dates throughout the year. They also manage all ferries going in and out of the Channel Islands.
Depending on the island, this one to three-hour boat ride can give you a better experience than just getting you to your destination. When traveling to and from the Channel Islands, you might see a lot of marine creatures. Even on the shortest routes, you can see dolphin pods, flying fish, sea lions, birds, otters, and whales.
2. Checking Out the Hiking Trails
Each island has a range of dedicated paths to offer different experiences for visitors, ranging from the roughly two miles of spectacular walking at Anacapa Island to the somewhat longer beach and forest excursions in Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. There are trail maps and weather information available at Island Packers or the Channel Islands National Park Visitor’s Center.
4. Exploring Sea Caves, Kelp Forests, and More
Walking is a fun way of exploring the Channel Islands California. It has been compared as the US version of Galapagos Island due to the exceptional marine life found here. The maritime sanctuary surrounding the Channel Islands has contributed to the preservation of the thriving kelp forests, which are home to a variety of creatures.
You can swim or snorkel here, but you can rent a kayak and go on a kayaking expedition if you have time. This is a good way to see Channel Islands’ famous sea caves and some of the island’s remote beaches. The boat ride is often included in the price of kayaking tours that can be booked in advance.
5. Kayaking in Channel Islands
Through kayaking, one may gain a unique view of these rocky islands. Sea cliffs, beaches, coves, and sea caves all border the shoreline. Watch a number of fish dart about as kelp forests cover the shallow waters.
The Scorpion Cove is one of East Santa Cruz Island’s most attractive kayaking locations. From the shore, it is simple to reach the beach, surrounding campsites, coastal cliffs, and tunnels that lead to the ocean.
Another nice spot to visit is Prisoners Harbor, located in the northern part of Santa Cruz Island. Although it is possible to kayak alone, it is safer to sign up for a guided kayaking excursion because of the unpredictable character of the sea.
For experienced tourists, the Channel Islands Adventure Company offers various activities, such as sea cave kayaking expeditions and tours that incorporate kayaking and snorkeling.
6. Spending the Day or Night at the Island
It may seem far away, but day tours to the Channel Islands are popular. Many tourists take the ferry to Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands for a half-day excursion to hike or go on a picnic. This is the best way if you don’t have much time to spare.
However, spending the night is the best since there is more time for activities like climbing, swimming, and watching the sunset, which is the most stunning part of one’s visit to the national park. You can also know the history of the islands, including the Chumash, European explorers, and Californian ranchers, who all lived there before.
7. Admiring the Unique Wildlife
Channel Islands’ wildlife is highly diversified and home to a number of unique species. Due to their seclusion, the islands’ biodiversity is fewer than what you might find in other national parks. This highlights how distinctive the animals living there are.
Watch out for island foxes, harvest mice, spotted skunks, and deer mice there. You can also see frogs, salamanders, and non-venomous snakes. Because there aren’t any real predators on the islands like bears or wild boars, camping overnight is less scary. The island foxes are small, and they have no fear at all. They’ll show up immediately to greet you.
The Bottom Line
Anyone traveling to California must stop by Channel Islands National Park. Whether you want to spend the day taking in the natural beauty of the islands or want to try something more adventurous like scuba diving, you won’t be disappointed.