Composed of five islands off the coast of Southern California — Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island, Santa Barbara Island and Anacapa Island — and the waters that surround them, Channel Islands National Park (CINP) is home to some 150 endemic wildlife species, numerous sea caves and incredible kelp forests. Despite such features, it remains one of the least-visited national parks — a matter of access, surely, not lack of intrigue.
Unless you’re an expert sailor with a vessel of your own, a trip to the remote park requires boat or air transport, which can make the venture rather costly compared to a visit to one of the many drive-in, drive-out national parks. Most Channel Islands guests arrive via Island Packers, a family-owned concessionaire that operates out of Ventura Harbor. Since 1968, Island Packers has traversed the channel, carrying passengers to various piers in the park and collaborating with other local outfitters to get people hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and diving.
We spoke with two Island Packers staffers about how to best tackle this Southern California gem.