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San Miguel is both remote and exposed to the ever-changing elements at the western portion of the Santa Barbara Channel.
Visitors going ashore on San Miguel should be prepared for an inflatable boat transfer from the main boat to the beach of Cuyler Harbor. The landing can be wet as the landing may take spray from wind or a splash from a wave in the surf zone.
Visitors should be prepared for a wide range of conditions including sun, fog, cool temperatures and wind. The white sand beach and steep 1.5-mile canyon hike, have beautiful examples of native vegetation and are open to all visitors.
There is no potable water, and no shade trees on this island, so visitors should bring ample drinking water, a hat and sunscreen. Lunch, snacks, and water should be carried in a day pack. You may also bring a small ice chest if you are planning on just exploring the beach at Cuyler Harbor.
To visit the interior of San Miguel Island; an island ranger, Island Packer employee or a National Park volunteer naturalist must accompany hikers. If you travel to San Miguel with Island Packers, the National Park will have staff on the island during the camping season.
San Miguel is well known for the strange formations of the Caliche Forest (sand casts of ancient tree trunks and roots) that can be viewed on a day visit. Point Bennett has one of the largest congregations of seals and sea lions found anywhere in the world. This is a guided 16-mile round trip hike that is available to island campers.
When returning from San Miguel you will travel along the north side of Santa Cruz and view the Painted Cave (sea conditions permitting), a large sea cave on the western end of the island.
Most trips scheduled to San Miguel Island are for camper transportation. During September and October special trips are scheduled for day visitors when the weather and sea conditions can be the most ideal for the channel crossing and beach landing. It is closed at this time for all trips
Throughout the spring and summer, different age groups of elephant seals will haul out to molt on the sandy beaches, sometimes right inside Cuyler Harbor.
San Miguel is truly a special place. During the entire season that Island Packers travels to this island you have a chance to view marine mammals, including the possibility of Humpback and Blue Whales.