San Miguel Island is the most northern island in the Channel Islands National Park. San Miguel Island day trips are offered only a few days a year during the fall months. Travel time on a direct route from the Ventura Harbor is 3 to 3.5 hours and the crossing is often highlighted with sightings of Humpback Whales and various species of dolphins. Departures are at 8:00 am and return to the Ventura Harbor between approximately 6:30 and 7:00 pm.
The day trips occur in September and October when the ocean conditions are the best for the skiff landing on the beach. San Miguel Island has no pier. Passengers depart the transport vessel for the ride to shore in an inflatable skiff through the surf. Landing can be wet depending on the current conditions. Visitors to this island should protect their day gear for the possibility of a wet landing.
Once ashore day visitors can explore the white sand beach of Cuylers Harbor, hike up the steep canyon trail to the Cabrillo Monument or the historic Lester Ranch area on their own.
Guided hikes offered to other areas of the Island may include the Caliche Forest, and Lester Point. The guided hikes are considered strenuous hikes and are enjoyed by hardy hikers. San Miguel Island trails beyond the ranch area must be guided by a National Park ranger or National Park volunteer. Time ashore on a day trip does not allow for the 16 mile hike to Point Bennett to view the pinnipeds.
San Miguel Island vault style outhouses and picnic tables at the campground area. Weather conditions can be windy even in the autumn. There is no drinking water or shade on San Miguel Island.
- Pack food and water for your time on the island. A small cooler with a single handle or a back pack will help to protect your food from the animals and birds. There are no shops nor restaurants on the island. Be prepared to hike out all your trash.
- San Miguel has no shade, so sun screen and a hat will help to protect you from UV that is present even on overcast days.
- Weather conditions can change rapidly in the Santa Barbara Channel. San Miguel is known for it's breezy conditions. It is always best to dress in layers and bring a jacket along regardless of the time of year.
- Flat shoes with rubber soles are best for both the boat and the island. We recommend hiking sandals/boots or sneakers. We suggest that you do not wear loose or leather soles sandals or flip flops on your island adventure. A second pair of shoes for hiking the island with dry feet due to possible wet landing. You must be wearing shoes when you exit the skiff on the beach.
- Camera and binoculars will add to your trip and this island offers some spectacular photo opportunities.
- Please arrive at your harbor of departure 45 minutes before your schedule mainland departure.