San Nicolas Island, California

Ventura --San Nicolas Island is the most northwesterly of the four southern Channel Islands. Like its eastern neighbor San Clemente Island, San Nicolas is a US Navy owned and operated island. Located 65 nautical miles southwest of the Point Mugu complex, San Nicolas Island is the cornerstone in the Sea Range capabilities. The waters surrounding the island are split into three zones that are controlled by the Navy. Most charter diving is done on the north and west sides of the island while the eastern side is generally off limits.


Divers can enjoy diving expeditions offered through Horizon Charters. Thick forests of giant kelp surround the entire island, attracting marine mammals, fish and invertebrates. A diverse mixture of northern cold-water and southern warm-water fish intermingle in the island waters. Sea fans, stars and anemones and sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seals are abundant at San Nicolas Island. They use the island to raise their young and to rest between hunting excursions into the ocean.


Divers especially enjoy the majestic spire Begg Rock which rises 300 feet from the ocean floor to the surface and is carpeted with invertebrate life!


Because of its instrumentation, isolated environment, shoreline characteristics, San Nicolas Island is utilized for test and training exercises, providing littoral warfare training, including tri-service and theater warfare exercises. It also offers an environment suited for classified operations. The main San Nicolas Island complex provides complete housing, dining, recreation, transportation, and public works support.  Project billeting and logistic support is also available on the island.


SNI is a Navy owned and operated facility used as an instrumentation site. SNI is the cornerstone in the Sea Range capabilities because of its land mass and depth of surrounding waters. The main support facilities include a 10,000 foot runway, an air terminal, housing, a power plant, a fuel farm and other necessary base support functions. The main San Nicolas Island complex provides complete housing, dining, recreation, transportation, and public works support. Project billeting and logistic support is also available on the island.

San Nicolas Island has extensive telemetry collection facilities including three 30 ft, two 20 ft, one 8 ft, and 7 ft diameter antennas. Signals can be recorded and routed to the Point Mugu operations complex for best source selection. The SNI Telemetry Collection Facility also provides real-time reception, recording and relay of telemetry data. SNI supplies this telemetry data to Point Mugu for processing and display. Telemetry signals are received through land-based antennas located at SNI and sent in real-time by a fiber optic cable and/or microwave to Point Mugu. The best source signals are then sent by fiber optic cable to the TDC, located in the ROC for real-time processing and display. The SNI telemetry facilities are ideally located to support operations throughout the Sea Range as well as strategic and space launches from the Western Range (WR), Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). The capability to record and display Miss Distance Indication (MDI) and video Doppler data is also available. Nearly all major users of the Sea Range rely on telemetry support from SNI.

A 460-foot-long pier includes mooring systems and a ramp to facilitate offloading the barges. A new operations building, and transit shed for cargo are also included. The pier built on the southeast end of the island is in an area called Daytona Beach.

Below is a list of the Channel Islands open to the public:



Island  Length X Width Camping
Anacapa Island 5 miles X  805-658-5730 
Santa Cruz  24 miles X  800-365-2267
Santa Rosa 15 miles X 10 miles 800-365-2267
San Miguel 8 miles X 4 miles 800-365-2267
Santa Barbara 0.25 miles X 805-658-5730

For information, write: Superintendant, Channel Islands National Park, 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA  93001-4354 or call, 805-658-5730. Request the brochure: Channel Islands National Park California, produced by National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior



Rangers conduct walks on San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands. Call (805) 658-5711 for tour information or (805) 964-7839 for Santa Cruz island. 


Visitor Center in Channel Island Harbor, 1901 Spinnaker Drive, contains the park headquarters, featuring exhibits, hands on displays and slide and film shows about the islands.  Mon.- Fri. 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Sat.&Sun. 8 am - 5 pm (805) 658-5730

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