FAQs

Q?

Why is it more expensive for camper transportation?

A.

Campers bring more weight onto the boat with their gear than day passengers. When there is more weight it takes more fuel to make the passage to and from the islands. When passengers go out and back on the same day we only have to make two channel crossings to transport day passengers. To transport campers out and back on different days Island Packers makes four channel crossings.

Q?

Do you guarantee sightings on the whale watching tours?

A.

We do not guarantee sightings as whales are wild animals. However, our captains have many years of experience finding whales. We also closely follow their migrating patterns so we are highly successful at locating them. Please refer to our marine mammal sightings page for the most up to date information.

Q?

What will I see on the island?

A.

Each island experience is different. You will see many endemic species of plants, birds and fox. You will experience nature in a very personal way.

Q?

Is there transportation while on the island?

A.

There is no public transportation on island.

Q?

Are there any shops or restaurants on the island?

A.

There are no shops, stores or restaurants on any of the Channel Islands that make up the National Park. You should bring the provisions you will need with you.

Q?

Is there electricity on the islands?

A.

There is no electricity for public use on any of the islands.

Q?

Do you get cell reception on the island?

A.

There is very little cell phone reception on most of the islands.  Santa Cruz Island sometimes has cell reception, however it is spotty and unreliable. It is a good idea to turn off your cell phone or put it in airplane mode during the crossing and your stay on the island otherwise your phone will roam searching for a signal and drain your battery.

Q?

If there’s an emergency, is there a way to call out?

A.

In the event of an emergency you can contact the Ranger on duty when available. You may bring a marine radio and contact the Coast Guard.

Q?

Which should I reserve first , the boat ride or campsite reservation?

A.

Island Packers does not travel to each island on a daily basis. Boat transportation arrangements to the island must be made before making a campsite reservation. You will have to coordinate traveling on the boat and check campsite availability prior to making either reservation. Campsites can be more difficult to obtain than boat transportation in some cases. Scheduled trips to the outer islands are less frequent so campsites may be available but we are not traveling to that location.

Q?

What is the difference between the wildlife cruise and whale watch?

A.

A Wildlife Cruise is a narrated , non-landing tour of Anacapa Island. It will also look for wildlife such as sea lions, birds, dolphin or whales if they are in the immediate area.

A Whale Watching trip travels through the Santa Barbara Channel and looks for migrating whales as well as other species of marine life. It may or may not go near the islands.

Q?

Can I take a cart, wagon or hand truck?

A.

Due to limited space on the vessel  restrictions apply to carts. The cart/hand truck must comply with Island Packer guidelines:  No more than 30” high/long  x  20” wide, must fold up flat to 4” and weigh 20lbs or less. Examples of the type of carts that meet our requirements are the MagnaCart, Ruxxac Cart or the Milwaukee folding hand truck.  Wagons style carts are not permitted. There is a $10.00 fee for taking a cart.

Magna_cart

Q?

Can I take a pet or service animal to the island?

A.

The islands are a closed ecosystem. The Channel Islands National Park service does not allow pets. For service animal inquiries please contact the park service in advance of your trip directly at 805-658-5730.

Q?

Do you offer a military discount?

A.

Yes, we offer a discount for military service members and one dependent. The discount is equal to our senior rate.

Q?

Do you see more whales on either the morning or afternoon whale watching trips?

A.

Whale sightings are usually about equal between the morning and afternoon trips.

Q?

Where can I rent a kayak or camping gear?

A.

Kayak rentals are available from Channel Island Kayak center. Please see our kayaking the local islands page for more information. Island Packers does not rent camping gear.
Some kayak outfitters have camping gear that you can rent when using their guided outfitter service.

Q?

Which is the best location for kayaking?

A.

Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage is the most popular kayaking area. Kayaking at the local islands is best for beginners and novices. The Outer Islands are for experienced kayakers who are used to the open ocean and rough water conditions.

Q?

Do I have to pay for parking?

A.

There is a public parking lot outside of each Island Packers building. Parking is free but very limited, especially in summer months. Groups should carpool whenever possible. There is a designated overnight parking area for campers in the Ventura Harbor. Campers will receive a parking pass when checking in on the day of their departure.

Q?

Can private boaters go out?

A.

Yes, however there are no public moorings or all-weather anchorages around the islands. For detailed information about private boating to the islands please refer to the Park Service website:  Click here for National Park information about private boats in the park.

Q?

Is there a fee to get into the Channel Islands National Park?

A.

There is no entrance fee to get into the Channel Islands National Park.

Q?

What should I pack?

A.

When going for the day, food and water are essential as there is nothing for sale on the island. A jacket is another great choice because it can be breezy on the boat ride. Comfortable, closed toe shoes are necessary for the boat as well as hiking around the island.  Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses should be brought as well.

Q?

What is the best island?

A.

There truly is no “best island.” They are all vastly different. Each offers a unique experience.

Q?

Which island is the best for the first visit?

A.

Anacapa Island is a great choice for the first time. It takes a short time to arrive and after climbing the stairs it offers a short hike, lighthouse, and inspirational panoramic views.
Santa Cruz Island is another great choice. It offers a variety of hiking trails. It also has an interactive visitor’s center as well as a cobblestone beach.

Q?

Does the boat sell food?

A.

Yes, we offer a selection of snacks and beverages including beer and local wine for purchase.

Non-alcoholic beverages cost between $1.00 and $3.00

Beer and Wine cost between $4.00-$600

Snacks and microwavable items cost between $1.00-$4.00

Q?

How long does it take to get to the islands?

A.

For Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island, the normal channel crossing time is slightly over one hour. Time can vary because we do stop for wildlife, dolphins and whales. Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara Island crossings take 2.5-3.5 hours depending on whether the vessel is scheduled for a drop off or pick up along the way at Santa Cruz or Anacapa Islands. San Miguel Island crossing takes from 3-4.5 hours depending on itinerary, wildlife and weather.