Ticket Type


Round Trip
Day Trip Fare


13-54 Years

$ 63.00


55 Years +



3-12 Years

$ 45.00

Infant( Must Reserve)

Under 3 Years

$ 00.00

Island Packers recommends Santa Cruz Island passengers utilize the National Park Service App for a more complete island experience.
420 + Parks all in one App. Find interactive maps, tours of park places, on-the-ground accessibility information, and more.
Download before you go so you can use it offline at the islands! The app is free and available online at  App Store and on Google Play.

The Crossing

The channel crossing fora Prisoner’s Harbor day trip is approximately 1 .5 to 2 hours depending on vessel route and possible stops at Scorpion Anchorage.

The Restored Wetlands
Photo by Andrea Mills

Prisoners Harbor is located midway along the North shore of Santa Cruz Island. The harbor area is the border of the National Park and The Nature Conservancy Properties.

Reserve Your Seats
or View Availability

Prisoner’s Harbor offers hiking trail options from short, level-ground walks, to truly strenuous hikes. A guided trek by an Island Packer naturalist is offered on most day trips. These hikes often travel the scenic, 4-mile trail from Prisoner’s Harbor towards Pelican Bay. There is no charge for naturalist-led hikes:

Self Guided Trail Options

Eagle Canyon Picnic Area

Less than a half mile one way – Enjoy a brief walk up the Navy Road to a picnic area that has beautiful views of Prisoner’s Harbor.

Del Norte Trailhead

.3 miles one way – Take a longer walk to the campground trail head, where the picnic area faces Chinese Harbor and the mainland beyond.

South Side Overlook

2.5 miles one way – For the more adventurous, this uphill climb will leave you breathless with awe at the incredible panoramic view. On a clear day, you can see San Nicholas Island, Santa Barbara Island, and Santa Catalina Island out to the south.

Pelican Bay Trail Guided Hike


Prisoners Harbor day trip visitors can participate in a moderately strenuous hike along the Pelican Bay Trail with an Island Packer naturalist. This rocky trail travels along coast bluffs, through groves of pine and oak trees and through multiple deep canyons, offering scenic views and an occasional endemic island fox. Persons that participate in this guided hike must complete and sign a TNC Release form which Island Packers provides. You may also download the release form.

The Pelican Bay Trail
Photo by Tim Hauf

This hike is not a destination hike to Pelican Bay, but a guided hike through this pristine area along the Pelican Bay Trail.  Hikers should not expect to reach Pelican Bay on this hike.  Group size and hiker fitness will determine how far along the trail we can go before we must head back to meet the boat.

Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay
Photo by Doug Mangum
View from high on the Pelican Trail
Photo by Chuck Graham

Visitors to Prisoner’s Harbor can join the guided hike, hike on their own, swim in the ocean, enjoy the pier, snorkel through shoreline kelp forests, or just relax on the cobblestone beach. Coastal kayaking is another popular exploration for kayaking enthusiasts. Fishing is allowed in this area with all required California Fish & Game licensing.
For the wildlife fan, the Prisoners Harbor day trip offers a good chance to see two animals found nowhere else in the world. Both the Island Fox and the Santa Cruz Island Jay make their homes at Prisoner’s Harbor.

Prisoner’s Harbor is the access point for the private TNC Property

Prisoners Harbor Pier & Beach Area
Photo by Tim Hauf
Kayakers in Pelican Bay
Photo by Chuck Graham

Day Trip Preparation | What You Need to Know & Bring

  • Please arrive at your harbor of departure 45 minutes before your scheduled mainland departure.

  • Pack food and drink for your time on the island.  A small cooler with a single handle or a backpack will help to protect your food from the small animals and birds that populate the islands year-round.  There are no shops or restaurants on the island.

  • There is NO FRESH/Potable water at this area of the island. You must bring water with you for your requirements.

  • Visitors to the island must take all their trash with them when they depart the island.

  • Flat shoes with rubber soles are best for both the boat and the island. We recommend hiking shoes.  We suggest passengers do not wear loose or leather soled sandals or flip flops on your island adventure.

  • Weather conditions can change rapidly in the Santa Barbara Channel.  It is always best to dress in layers and bring a jacket/sweatshirt (even in the summer months).

  • Shade is available in some of the picnic area. Most trails have little or no shade. A hat and sunscreen are recommended.

  • A second pair of shoes or water shoes are recommended for the cobblestone beach, for foot protection, if you are planning to get into the water.

Important Links to Additional Information