- California National
- Channel Islands
Santa Barbara Island is the smallest Channel Island and the 2nd from the
furthest away. Located about 55 miles from Ventura County, it takes about
2.5 to 3 hours depending on which harbor the trip departs from (Ventura or
Oxnard). Only one square mile in size, guests still love to visit and hike
here because of its distance from the mainland. Birds, plants and sea life
seem to thrive in the waters and protected, small island habitat.
After the three hour trip to Santa
Barbara Island, visitors step from Catamaran boat onto a ladder stationed to
a small dock. From the dock there is a steep trail that leads to the top of
the island. There is no water and no shade on this island. Youu'll need to
bring your own water and sun protection such as hats, clothing and sunblock.
Santa Barbara Island includes a number
of island endemics. Like the other Channel Islands, the spring wildflower
bloom is exquisite, but don't ignore the other seasons such as summer and
fall when there are colorful spreads of native flowers throughout this
smallest island. Kayaking and snorkeling is available at Landing
Cove. Sea lions are almost always present so be sure to take your camera!
The Channel Islands are the most
important nesting grounds for seabirds on the West Coast. Though damaged by
decades of cattle and sheep ranching, the islands still sport an impressive
array of native plant life. Whales, orcas, and dolphins pass offshore. Tide
pools, a vanishing habitat on the mainland, are doing well on Channel
The national park occupies five of the eight islands in the chain, as well
as much of its offshore waters. The islands are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa
Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. Each island has its own character.
Anacapa is the entry point, tiny, popular, and closest to shore. Santa Cruz
is the largest and most biologically diverse; it is largely owned by the
nonprofit The Nature Conservancy. Santa Rosa is the most historically
interesting, and the most wide open of the larger islands for those who want
to do some independent exploring. San Miguel has (arguably) the best hiking
as well as terrific wildlife. Tiny Santa Barbara is the most isolated, a
place to go to be alone in a wild, windy ocean.
Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara,
Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands are accessible by booking seats on chartered
boats departing daily from Ventura and Santa Barbara or other coastal cities
which offer scuba, fishing and excursion charters. If you are short on
time, half-day non land excursions are also available in Ventura on the Whale
Watching trips. But the good news is that if the whales are migrating, the
captain of your day-trip charter will stop to watch and take photos. California's natural splendor
is what you'll discover on a trip to the islands where you may view cormorants, seals, sea lions
and endangered California brown pelicans near a giant kelp forests
shelter with more than 1,000 species of ocean life.
Rangers conduct walks on
San Miguel, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. Call (805) 658-5711 for tour information
or (805) 964-7839 for Santa Cruz island.
For information, write: Superintendent, 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
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