Island Packers Cruises is the Official Boat Concessionaire for the Channel Islands National Park. We offer year round transportation to the “local islands” Santa Cruz and Anacapa. We offer trips to the “outer islands”, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara (NPS Closure) from March through November on a limited schedule.
Island Packers Cruises also offer trips that get close to the Channel Islands without going ashore which are designed so you can to view the abundant wildlife found in the waters of the Channel Islands National Park and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Seasonally, in summer and winter we offer Whale Watching trips.
Other special trips for birding and trips to special areas of Santa Cruz Island that are property of The Nature Conservancy are available as scheduled. We also have Harbor Cruises with dinner and live music during the Summer months.
Summer & Fall Camping Availability
Camping in a National Park usually requires advance planning. This is true in the Channel Islands National Park. Weekend (Saturday) campsites sell out months in advance. Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Campground is full on all Saturday nights through October. This chart will give you some idea of what to expect when you look for campsite availability in Channel Islands National Park. Although weekend campsites may be full we have many day trips available, especially during the week.
Island Trips and Wildlife Viewing Options
Available – February
Santa Rosa Island – SRI
At 84 square miles, 53,000 acres, Santa Rosa is the second largest of the eight Channel Islands. There are two relatively high mountains on the island; Black Mountain, 1298 ft (396 m); and Soledad Peak 1574 ft (480 m). READ MORE…
Available – Year-Round
This 3.5 hour cruise will take you through the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the Channel Islands National Park.in, Pacific White Sided Dolphin and Dall’s Porpoise. READ MORE…
Available May- September
Spring & Summer
Summer Whale Watching occurs from approximately mid May this year to mid September. This is when the ocean up-welling brings rich plumes of plankton for these visitors to feed on.. Locating these majestic mammals often requires a longer boat ride. READ MORE
Santa Cruz Island -SCI
Santa Cruz Island is the largest of all the Channel Islands. At over 24 miles long and six miles at its widest, Santa Cruz is over 62,000 acres (96 square miles) and has 77 miles of shoreline. Santa Cruz Island lies approximately 20 miles offshore from Ventura Harbor. READ MORE
Available – Limited Year-Round
Multi-Port Day Trips
Prisoners Harbor, SCI with Painted Cave
Prisoners Harbor, SCI
and Anacapa Island
Multi-Port trips allow visitors to explore several island destinations in the same day. Passengers on these trips spend a little more time on the boat but fill-up their day with a greater appreciation for the variety of ways to enjoy the Park. READ MORE
Closed for Landing Improvements
Starting February 2022
Closure Estimate 3-4 months
Anacapa Island is the second smallest island in Channel Islands National Park, only slightly larger than Santa Barbara Island. Although approximately 4 miles tip to tip, Anacapa includes just under a square mile of land. Anacapa is the closest island to the mainland. From either harbor of departure, it lies 12 to14 miles offshore. Due to its close location, READ MORE…
News & Announcements | Things You’ll Want to Know
Get the Latest Weather in our Area
Weather is important. It can cause cancellations, a rough boat ride or a truly beautiful day. Have the latest information to help plan your trip.
Click the Buttons Below to View the latest Marine Weather Forecast from the National Weather Service.
This map is a representation of the map you see when you click the Marine Forecast button below. The yellow area is the area we travel for Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Wildlife and Winter Whale Watching. The actual map on the NWS site is interactive and you can click in the general area of the yellow highlight and get the marine weather forecast for the area you will be traveling in today.
Protect The Channel Islands
Non-native, invasive species threaten endangered animals and plants on the Channel Islands and are costly to control. The following bio security regulations and guidelines can help prevent the introduction and spread of nonnative species before they become a problem.
To prevent the introduction of nonnative species, the following items may not be brought to the park:
Live or Potted Plants, Soil, Cut Flowers,
Firewood or any untreated, unfinished wood (including hiking sticks), Corrugated boxes, Tools or equipment with attached soil, Motorized vehicles, Bicycles
This restriction action is necessitated for the protection of the islands unique values, ecological systems and protection of breeding populations of marine mammals, endangered species of seabirds, eagles, islands foxes and other unique and rare species of flora and fauna inhabiting the Channel Islands National Park. Less restrictive measures would have the potential for introduction of nonnative species that could adversely effect many species and/or endanger the islands ecosystems.
Island Day Trip
Get the App!
Official National Park Service Mobile App (Free)
One app, every park at your fingertips.
The NPS App is the new official app for the National Park Service (NPS) with tools to explore more than 400 national parks nationwide.
Help plan your trip and enrich your visit to Channel Islands National Park with this official, free app. Digitally explore the park—by map or by topic of interest. Discover the natural and cultural stories in context with their locations. Find the information you need about visitor centers, events, services, and self-guided tours and trails throughout the park.
The app is free and available on the App Store and on Google Play.
What you Need to Have & Bring
Wildflowers Come Early
After December Rain
Channel Islands National Park is home to over 800 plant species (including subspecies and varieties). Each island’s wildflowers are unique due to a complex interplay of factors, including distance from the mainland and other islands, size of the island, local climate, maximum elevation, and topographic diversity.
During a normal year of rainfall, the islands are green and wildflowers reach peak bloom around late winter and spring. Generally, the blooming begins and ends earlier the farther east and south the islands are located. The brilliant yellow coreopsis flowers usually peak between late January through March. For more links to specific islands, checklists and flowering guides, Click the button below.
ISLAPEDIA is a comprehensive California Islands encyclopedia covering hundreds of topics and thousands of entries on all eight California Channel Islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands. All additional Islands of the Californias are also included.
Quick Links to a Few Great Topics