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Santa Barbara Island -Channel Islands National Park

Pictured above are images from the largest island, Santa Cruz

beach photos -   California National Parks  - Channel Islands


Santa Barbara Island

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 Islands.

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.



Channel Islands Length X Width Travel Time (approx.)/ Distance Camping
Anacapa Island 5 miles X  55 min. to 1 hour / 12 miles 805-658-5730 
Santa Cruz Island 24 miles X  1 hour / 20 miles 800-365-2267
Santa Rosa Island 15 miles X 10 miles 2.5 to 3 hours / 46 miles 800-365-2267
San Miguel Island 8 miles X 4 miles 3.5 to 4 hours / 58 miles 800-365-2267
Santa Barbara Island 0.25 miles X 2.5 to 3 hours / 55 miles 805-658-5730
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
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. 

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