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Passengers traveling with small children have many options. All ages are welcome on all our regularly scheduled trips, but some trips will be more appropriate than others for younger travelers:

Non-Landing Trips: These are the shortest trips offered by Island Packers. Lasting approximately 3½ hours, Island Wildlife Tours and Whale Watching expeditions may be perfect for young travelers.

Things to know:

  • Whale Watches: Viewing whales up close can be thrilling and memory-making for everyone. Although Island Packers expects to find whales, and to spend time visiting with them, on all our Whale Watches, these trips sometimes spend more time whale searching than with whales. Our crew are excellent at finding all sorts of wildlife and providing expert naturalist narration, however, trips that have fewer sightings can make little ones squirmy. Bring snacks, binoculars, and dress warmly for walks around the deck.
  • Island Wildlife Tours: These trips are also 3 ½ hour in length. Island Wildlife Tours search for wildlife and spend time viewing animals encountered along the way but these trips have the primary objective of traveling to Anacapa Island, cruising the shoreline, and offering narration of the journey. Photo opportunities are plentiful next to the island and Arch Rock. Our naturalists point out animals and other highlights of the natural world as well as man’s impact. On this trip, passengers have an approximately 60 – 75-minute crossing in each direction (depending on wildlife encountered), and the cruise along the north side of the island. This trip packs a lot into 3 ½ hours.

Day Trips: Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is the most popular destination for day visitors to the Channel Islands for many reasons that also make it a great place for kids. Anacapa Island is the same price and approximate travel time. For day trips with small children, Island Packers recommends:

Scorpion Anchorage, Santa Cruz Island:

  • The ride is approximately 60 -75 minutes, depending on sea conditions, and wildlife encountered.
  • The cost is the lowest day-trip rate offered.
  • There are many trails to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty.
  • There is a lot to see here. Structures remain from the ranching era as well as evidence of past human habitation from Chumash, through the ranching era, and now the National Park.
  • Water access is relatively easy (rocky beach shore)
  • Lots of shade in the canyon.
  • Fresh water is available (at the camp sites.)
  • Visitors often have several options for departure and return times and can shorten or lengthen their day accordingly.

Anacapa Island:

  • A boat ride of approximately 60 -75 minutes, depending on sea conditions, and wildlife.
  • The cost is the lowest day-trip rate offered.
  • Spectacular island views
  • Accessing the island can be a little tricky with small children. Please see (Anacapa page goes here)
  • It takes 154 steps to get to the plateau of the island and to access the hiking trails.
  • There is very little shade and no water at Anacapa.
  • Hiking trails are gorgeous, but not extensive. About 1 ½ miles in total.
  • Trails pass close to exposed cliff edges.
  • A small visitor’s center as well as the Anacapa lighthouse are found on the island.


  • Water is only available at 2 locations: Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Island.
  • On-island resources are limited. Primitive restrooms are found at all campgrounds, along with a windbreak, food storage box, and a picnic table at each site. There are no shops, restaurants, or hotels on any island.
  • Boat rides to the outer islands of Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara, are considerably longer in duration and have a higher chance of being a rough ride.
  • There are no medical facilities on any island and the nearest hospital is an expensive helicopter ride or a long boat ride away.
  • All ages are welcome on all our regularly scheduled trips. But, if you and camping with young children in Channel Islands National Park,
  • Island Packers suggests considering Scorpion Anchorage due to its cost, proximity, and amenities.