- Channel Islands
Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island takes 2.5 to 3 hours
travel time on a high-speed catamaran from Ventura Harbor. It is
approximately 46 miles offshore. The officially licensed charter boat
company, Island Packers, sometimes stops at Santa Cruz Island to pick up
passengers.. Island Packers often travels on the south side of the
Santa Cruz Island coastline and returns from Santa Rosa on the north side of
Santa Cruz where a view of Painted Cave, the largest and deepest sea cave in
the world, is afforded. islandpackers.com.
Visitors to Santa Rosa Island are
required to step up a ladder and climb a number of narrow ladder rungs to
reach the top of a pier. The pier was once used for the Vail and Vickers
cattle ranch that operated on Santa Rosa Island for approximately 100 years
and still holds lease on some island property until 2011.
Santa Rosa features pristine white sand dunes and beaches, rolling hills,
sculpted canyons and plenty of wind. A public restroom with modern
facilities includes running water, a real luxury compared to the rustic
outhouses on some of the other islands. There are a few picnic tables
adjacent to the ranch area with no shade provided. Day hikes along the coast
and to the endemic Torrey pines include Cherry Canyon trail overlooking
Bechers Bay, Vail Vickers Ranch and Skunk Point.
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