Visiting Channel Islands National Park should be on everyone’s bucket list. This island destination off the coast of California offers world-class kayaking, tranquil camping and several hiking options for outdoor enthusiasts. If you are unsure how to plan your day on the island, here are a few great options!
1) Sea Cave & Ocean Kayaking – With amazing coastal bluffs and some of the largest sea caves in the world, the Channel Islands are a great place to go kayaking. Scorpion Anchorage is one of the most popular areas of the park for kayaking because it offers several sea caves to explore and has easy access to the water. Prisoners Harbor is another popular destination. Guests can see areas of Santa Cruz Island protected by the Nature Conservancy, offering amazing marine and wildlife. You can look at all of our Channel Islands kayaking options here. Depending on the season, guests can also explore Painted Cave which is one of the largest sea caves in the world.
2) Hiking – There are several great hiking trails on the islands, including a few short strolls to amazing vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Be sure to pack water, snacks and a watch for hiking – you want to make sure you don’t miss your ferry home. View Channel Islands Hiking Map for all hiking trails in the area.
3) Snorkeling – If you are on a Santa Barbara Adventure Company tour, then your guide will provide wetsuits and snorkel masks as a complimentary service when you book a kayak trip, but you can also bring your own equipment. The area surrounding the island is a marine sanctuary and full of healthy kelp forests teeming with sea lions, fish and crab.
4) Bird Watching – Channel Islands National Park is recognized as an important breeding and resting area for a variety of land birds, shorebirds, and seabirds. The area is an essential feeding and nesting ground for many sea birds and is home to the only breeding colony of California Brown Pelicans in California! Download A Checklist of the Birds of Channel Islands National Park for a complete distribution and status of 387 species of birds native to the five islands that comprise Channel Islands National Park.
5) Photography – Don’t forget your camera if you are planning a trip to the Channel Islands. There are numerous places to snap photos of the bluffs and the Pacific Ocean. There are also lots of beautiful and unique creatures including Island Foxes, Island Scrub Jays and California Brown Pelican. If you have a waterproof camera, you’ll be able to capture photos of colorful fish and crabs as well.
Whether you are staying for a few hours or a few days, there are lots of wonderful outdoor options when visiting Channel Islands National Park. The park includes five beautiful and diverse islands and is surrounded by an incredible ocean environment. We hope you have a great visit! Feel free to call our office at (805) 884-9283 to ask about all tour options on the islands.
Originally published July 2012; revised June 2021.