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Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage is the most popular destination for kayaking. The sand and cobblestone beach make it easy to get your kayak in the water and the many caves and coves make for great kayaking fun.

Santa Cruz Island, Prisoners Harbor has fewer visitors in general. Therefore, kayakers can enjoy a more personal exploration of the caves and coves found in this area of the island. The sand and cobblestone beach allows for easy entry into the water. At times, the ocean water at Prisoners Harbor can be cloudy. However the coves around this area usually have clear water for wildlife viewing.

a person riding a wave on a surfboard in the water


Anacapa Island is a cliff island and has no beach in the landing area. Kayaks are offloaded from the boat to the landing dock. Kayaks are then lowered to the water by rope and you must go down a ladder to get into the kayak. When you are finished kayaking, you must pull the kayak back up to the landing dock before the Island Packers boat returns for pick up of passengers and kayaks.

The waters at Anacapa Island are usually crystal clear and you can see down many feet to the ocean life below. The shoreline is pocketed with many sea caves and small secluded beaches. Anacapa Island can have stronger current along it’s shore so kayakers should be moderately experienced at ocean kayaking.

a raft next to a body of water

Guided Kayaking

Guided kayaking tours are available by contacting Channel Islands Adventure Company, 805- 884-9283. Touring kayaks are kept on Santa Cruz Island at Scorpion Anchorage. You do not need to reserve transport for kayaks when taking a guided tour. At other island locations, the outfitter will make all the arrangements for kayak transport.

Kayak Rentals

Kayak rentals are available from Channel Island Kayak Center (805) 984-5995. Rental kayaks must be arranged at least a day ahead of your departure date. Kayaks rented from this company will comply with all Island Packers guidelines. There are no kayaks for rent at the island. You must reserve transport space with Island Packers for rental kayaks. Space is limited to 18 kayaks a day at Scorpion Anchorage by the National Park. Be sure you have transport space reserved before reserving the actual kayak.

Bring Your Kayak

Personal kayaks may also be transported to the island. All kayaks must meet Island Packers transport guidelines. Personal and rental kayaks must have space reserved for kayak transport. Boat space for kayaks is limited both on the boat and on the island and is first come, first served. The summer and fall often see many days where all kayak space has been reserved. You must plan ahead when taking kayaks to the island. Personal kayaks must comply with the guidelines below.


Be sure to consult with the on-island National Park staff upon arrival to the islands. Review the kayak guidelines and regulations posted on the park bulletin boards. You should preview this important information on the Kayaking page of the Channel Islands National Park (CINP) website before taking a kayak out to the islands.

Small Kayak Under 13 Feet in Length $21.00
Large Kayak 13 – 16 Feet in Length $29.00
Special Kayak*

*Oversized – Over 16 feet or Composite or Wood. Maximum Weight 75 Pounds.

Transport of Special Kayaks must be approved at the time you reserve your kayak space. Please be prepared to give length, weight and construction material for approval process $29.00


Santa Rosa & San Miguel Islands

Outer Island Kayaking at Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands require expert ocean knowledge and experience at open ocean kayaking. Weather conditions can change rapidly in this area and kayakers should be able to spot changes in swell and wind conditions. Strong wind can prevent you from returning to your original departure beach.

You must reserve kayak transport space when booking your Island Packers transportation.

Channel Island Kayak Center does not rent kayaks for these islands.

Santa Barbara Island

Outer Island Kayaking at Santa Barbara Island offers beautiful clear water and a warmer water temperature than the northern islands. There is no beach at the launch area so kayakers must carry the kayak down to the launch platform located under the pier. Sea Lions and Seals make their home on this island, so wildlife viewing is always fun.

Kayaking north towards Arch Point or south towards the Sea Lion Rookery provides great wildlife viewing, sea caves, and arches. Experienced kayakers can circumnavigate the island’s five-mile coastline. You must reserve kayak transport space when booking your Island Packers transportation.

Channel Island Kayak Center does not rent kayaks for this island.