Channel Island Cruises

Channel Island cruises are exciting small-ship cruises that take passengers around the beautiful Channel Islands, off the coast of Santa Barbara in California. These cruises are perfect for those who want to enjoy day trips to gorgeous islands where land exploration, kayaking, and snorkeling are possible.

There are 8 California Channel Islands. Together, these islands feature diversity in animal and plant life that is not seen in many other locations in the world. The Channel Islands ecology tells a story about the history of the Southern California Bight. The islands are home to many species and subspecies that you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.

Wondering what to expect on a Channel Islands cruise? Here’s a bit of what you’ll experience:

  • A Marine Sanctuary – The 4 northern Channel Islands make up the southern boundary of the Santa Barbara Channel. Together, with Santa Barbara Island, they comprise the Channel Islands National Park. The area of water surrounding these 5 islands (out to a distance of 6 miles) makes up the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
  • History – On a Channel Island cruise, you’ll learn about the rich history of human use and habitation of the Channel Islands. Native Americans are said to have occupied these islands as far back as 13,000 years ago. The Chumash Indians lived well and prospered on the northern islands. In recent times, fur hunters, squatters, and ranchers thrived on the islands.
  • San Miguel Island – San Miguel Island, the westernmost and most exposed island, is one of the windiest places in the United States. Six types of pinnipeds call San Miguel Island home: California sea lion, harbor seal, northern elephant seal, Guadalupe fur seal, northern fur seal, and Steller sea lion.

Channel Island Cruise Companies

The following cruise companies offer day cruises to and around the Channel Islands:

Island Packers

Island Packers takes passengers to Anacapa Island (the closest to the mainland) for day trips, wildlife viewing, and kayaking. The company sails to Santa Cruz Island for overnight adventures, hiking, and kayaking. Those who want to see ocean creatures can take an Island Packers Channel Islands cruise to view blue, humpback, and gray wales in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Condor Express

Condor Express Channel Islands cruises offer whale watching, kayaking, and party boat trips to the Channel Islands. These cruises leave from Santa Barbara and they last anywhere from a couple of hours to all day.

Channel Islands Whale Watching

Channel Islands Whale Watching cruises feature Captain Frank at the helm. Captain Frank has 35 years of experience guiding ships through the Santa Barbara Channel and around the Channel Islands. His Channel Island Whale Watching cruises entertain, educate, and inspire. If you take one of Captain Frank’s cruises, you’re sure to leave with a deeper understanding of the islands and of life in the area.

If you’re visiting California, we recommend you take one of these cruises to the Channel Islands. You’ll surely enjoy exploring the Pacific in this unique and special location. Even if you don’t have plans to visit Southern California, we think it’s a great idea for you to make them! Enjoy the gorgeous land, waters, and life that lives in this miraculous area on Earth.

Channel Island Cruises

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