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Channel Islands National Park Day Trip

All the things you need to know when you just have one day on the Channel Islands.

View of Little Scorpion anchorage and Scorpion Rock, Santa Cruz Island.

The Seasons

Of course, as the seasons change, so does the day length and the ferry times. Summer days depart from Ventura Harbor at 8 or 9 am (later departures are sometimes available) and arrive back to the mainland around 6 pm. Winter (off-season) boat rides often depart at 9 am and leave the island around 3 or 3:30 pm, so you’re left with less time to explore the island. For more detailed ferry schedules and to book your round-trip boat ride to the islands visit Island Packers. Please be sure to book your ferry tickets well in advance during holidays and peak season (late spring to early fall).

Island Packers boats in the Ventura Harbor.

The Boat

Most visitors that have only one day on the Channel Islands choose to take a shorter boat ride (1 to 1.5 hours from Ventura Harbor) to Scorpion Anchorage or Prisoners Harbor at Santa Cruz Island. That will maximize all of the adventurous activities you can do on the islands.

Kayaking in the Channel Islands National Park.

The Activities

In a day’s time, if you’re ambitious, you could fit in what we call the Island Trifecta: Hike, Kayak, and Snorkel* (*during the warmer months: May-October). Please check out our blog about What to do in the Channel Islands National Park for more!

Last, please be sure not to miss your boat! The ferries are on a tight schedule, which means day visitors should plan to be waiting by the pier for the boat no later than 15 minutes before your ferry is scheduled to depart.

~Wishing you happy trails!~

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