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Channel Islands National Park: Santa Cruz

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

You have to see it to believe it. Simply beautiful & wild. At the Channel Islands, you can really get an idea of how our planet was before we came in the game.

Ocean overlook at Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz Island

The Channel Islands National Park encompasses five islands: Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, San Miguel and Santa Rosa. It’s just breathtaking to be able to see and experience the raw beauty that this place holds. The islands, over the course of thousands of years isolated, are home to unique species of animals, plants and archaeological resources that exist nowhere else on Earth.

The islands are only accessible by boat (Island Packers), private boats, or plane (Channel Islands Aviation).

Tip: Reserve in advance - especially during late spring or summer.

Boats depart from the Ventura and Oxnard harbors. Our boat trip to Santa Cruz Island costed $59 round-trip per person, and there are 2 different harbors to jump off: Scorpion Anchorage and Prisoners Harbor.

Visitors must climb from the boat up a steel-rung ladder to a pier but when the piers are closed, landings are via skiff onto the beach!

Leave nothing but footprints! Though the Channel Islands National Park is known as the “Galapagos of North America” due to its plentiful wildlife, this is your chance to completely unplug & disconnect from the world as we know it. The islands have no lodging, stores, or restaurants. You are required to bring your own food & drinks and to take all your trash back to the mainland with you. It’s an amazing way to preserve the environment and reduce the impact of men over the sanctuary.

Kill nothing but time! We visited the Santa Cruz Island, the easiest one to get to, with the less unpredictable weather and the most things to do. You can go for a day trip as we did or camp for more days to explore the area. The rangers reinforce the moment you get there that there’s no services, transportation or public phones available on the island, and thus assistance, should you need any, is well delayed. It’s you and the wild!

Take nothing but pictures! Each island offers different scenic hikes, with breathtaking views and chances to see wildlife and birds real close. Santa Cruz Island alone has about 15 trails. Since we wanted to spend most of the time kayaking, we hiked 1.2 mile to Cavern Point and we were rewarded with unbelievable views! We also saw some curious islands foxes, birds and a pod of dolphins jumping around in the ocean.

Explore the Channel Islands by kayak to see the sea caves and kelp forests up close! You must reserve the equipment or tour in advance as kayaks are transported from the mainland to the islands on the same boat as passengers do, therefore are subject to space and availability (remember, there are no services once you arrive on the island). We paid $28 for the transportation and $25 for a day rental (double kayak).

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses a protected area of 1,110 square nautical miles of remarkable biodiversity which is the home of species close to extinction and even shipwrecks!

In addition to kayaking, there are also snorkeling, diving, sailing and boating activities available.

Get more info on Santa Cruz Island and the other islands that are part of the Channel Islands National Park here.


Download a checklist of National Parks in the US, all divided by state! How many can you cross off this list?

National Parks Checklist
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With Love,



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