The Channel Islands in California. Flickr/ Island Conservation
Travel in California Channel Islands
In the Channel Islands, Island Packers approaches Anacapa Island with a boatload of visitors ready to explore nature and wildlife. Photo by Doug Mangum

Just off the coast of Southern California along the Santa Barbara Channel are a chain of eight islands called the Channel Islands.

Channel Islands National Park

The islands are home to Channel Islands National Park, which has been called the ‘Galapagos Islands of North America.’ It is one of the most unique national parks in America, yet many people don’t know about it.

Far removed from the hustle and bustle of California, Channel Islands National Park is a perfect backdrop for quiet, uninterrupted time with family and friends.

Outdoor adventure is readily available, including hiking, camping, snorkeling, birdwatching or simply taking in the natural beauty that surrounds these pristine islands.

Five Islands

The five islands in the chain make up the Marine Sanctuary where rare animals, plants and archaeological resources can be found.

Kayakers can paddle through sea caves on both Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island, allowing for an amazing sea experience.

And those who opt for snorkeling or diving will encounter the Park’s rich kelp forests with its deep blue, clear waters and incredible visibility.

We wanted to learn more about Channel Islands National Park, so we went to the local experts with our questions. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: First off, where are the Channel Islands?

A: The Channel Islands National Park consists of five islands that span 160 miles off the coast of southern California. The islands are just 11 miles offshore from Oxnard, California.

Q: What’s the best way to reach the Channel Islands?

A: The best way is to go by boat. The official concessionaire for Channel Islands National Park is Island Packers. They run daily trips to all five islands.

Wildflowers bloom beautifully on the Channel Islands of California.
The flowers are abundant on East Anacapa island in the spring. Photo by Doug Mangum

Q: What is there to see and do in the Channel Islands?

A: Visitors will see all types of plant and sea life. They can hike, kayak through the caves, snorkel or just take in the amazing beauty.

There are also two whale watching seasons – the Pacific Gray Whales are seen from December 26 through mid-April and the Blue Whales come starting June through September.

Q: What’s the best time of year to visit?

A: Trips are offered all year long. The whale watching seasons are a good time to go out.

And, if rainfall is good during the year, the spring is a great time to see wildflowers, such as the Coreopsis that bloom on Anacapa Island.

Q: What is something people may not know about the region?

A: They may not know about the offshore islands themselves, in addition to the fact that Oxnard is a coastal city and has some amazing beaches and beautiful shoreline.

There are many opportunities for water activities within the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, including kayaking, jet skis, electric boats and more.

Plus, great restaurants, museums and rich agricultural land.

Another fun fact? The Channel Islands are home to the oldest dated human remains in North America.

The remains of Arlington Springs Man were discovered here (13,000 BP).

If You Go to California’s Channel Islands:

Stop in at the California Welcome Center in Oxnard (CWC) at the Collection Shopping Center filled with a variety of stores and restaurants.

The CWC has information on things to see and do in the city as well as information on destinations and attractions along the Central Coast and beyond.

In addition, visitors will find information on the Ventura County Wine Trail, which Oxnard is part of and can even sample and/or purchase many of the wines that are offered along the Trail in the CWC’s wine tasting room.

Information on Oxnard’s attractions, island information and more can be found:


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