Santa Barbara Island Day Trip

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The day trip to Santa Barbara Island begins at 8:00 am when the vessel departs for the 47 mile crossing to this unique island.  The longer channel crossing increases the opportunity to see a variety of marine life such as, whales, dolphins and sea birds.  Arriving at the island we cruise along the shoreline to the landing cove where  harbor seals and sea lions can be spotted.

Hiking trail to Arch Point on Santa Barbara Island
Photo by Doug Mangum

The island portion of your day begins with an orientation by a Park naturalist volunteer at the island visitor’s center where picnic tables and vault style restrooms are located.  Picnic, browse the visitors center and head out on your own along the five miles of nature trails or you can join the naturalist lead guided hike.

Hiking to island overlooks such as the sea lion rookery, Webster Point and Elephant Seal Cove provide excellent marine vistas and the chance to look down at seals and sea lions. Harbor seals and sea lions can often be seen basking on the rock ledges that surround the dock landing area.

Photo by Michele Wassell
Photo by Dan Harding

The surrounding clear waters and kelp forests are excellent for snorkeling to view spiny sea urchins and brilliant orange Garibaldi.

Photo by Dan Harding

To prepare for the best day possible you will need to:

  • 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 birds that populate the island year round.  There are no shops or restaurants on the island.  Be prepared to hike out all your trash.
  • Santa Barbara Island  has little 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 and it is always best to dress in layers and bring a jacket along (even in the summer months).
  • Flat shoes with rubber soles are best for both the boat and the island. We recommend hiking shoes.  We suggest that you do not wear loose or leather soles sandals or flip flops on your island adventure.
  • Please arrive at your harbor of departure 45 minutes before your schedule mainland departure.
  • Camera and binoculars will add to your trip and this island offers some spectacular photo opportunities.


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