Things To Do

Channel Islands National Park provides a delightful break from the congestion and clamor of urban life. The islands are ideal for quiet, uninterrupted time with family and friends-wonderful places to hike, camp, snorkel, kayak, birdwatch, take photographs, sketch, or just relax to the soothing sounds of the natural world.

However, since the park encompasses five islands and their surrounding one mile of the ocean, the decision of where to go and what to do can be challenging. So compiled below is a list of activities and park highlights that we feel should not be missed.

For more suggestions, please visit Places To Go, Activities, and Programs.

Hikers along coastal bluffs. ©Tim Hauf,

Learn about hiking, camping, water sports, and other activities in the park.

Campground on Anacapa Island with lighthouse in background. ©Tim Hauf,
Anacapa Island

Learn about things to do on Anacapa Island.

Visitor relaxing on beach with umbrellas. ©Tim Hauf,
Santa Cruz Island

Learn about things to do on Santa Cruz Island.

Caliche forest at sunset. ©Tim Hauf,
San Miguel Island

Learn about things to do on San Miguel Island.

Snorkelers in green water with sea lions. ©Tim Hauf,
Santa Barbara Island

Learn about things to do on Santa Barbara Island.

Surfer on wave with island in background. ©Tim Hauf,
Santa Rosa Island

Learn about things to do on Santa Rosa Island.

Coreopsis blooming in the native plant garden. ©Tim Hauf,
Visitor Center

The visitor center in Ventura features a bookstore, exhibits, native plant garden, and park movie. Free. Open 8:30 am - 5:00 pm daily.

Park ranger SCUBA diving in kelp forest.
Channel Islands Live

Take a virtual visit to the Channel Islands through live broadcasts and webcams that highlight the park's natural and cultural resources.

Three islets surrounded by blew water. ©Tim Hauf,
Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island

Even on a foggy day, this is one of the best views in the park. Island Packers runs trips to Anacapa Island throughout the year.

Kayakers in blue water next to steep cliff. ©Tim Hauf,
Snorkeling | Diving | Kayaking

Cool off after a hike with a snorkel, dive, or kayak in the Landing Cove on Anacapa Island or at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island.

Yellow flowered coreopsis overlooking ocean bluffs. ©Tim Hauf,
Cavern Point, Santa Cruz Island

A Cavern Point hike includes great views and a tour of the visitor center in the historic ranch house. Island Packers runs daily trips.

Blue tent in campground with trees. © Kathy de-Wet Oleson
Camping, Santa Cruz Island

Scorpion Ranch Campground is the most convenient park campground and provides the most recreational opportunities.

Torrey pine tree overlooking brown bluff and blue ocean. ©Tim Hauf,
Torrey Pines, Santa Rosa Island

View one of the rarest trees in the world. Channel Islands Aviation flies year round while Island Packers runs trips spring through fall.

White sand beach with pinnpeds. ©Tim Hauf,
Point Bennett, San Miguel Island

Just a 4-hour boat ride (summer through fall) and a 16-mile round-trip hike to view 30,000 pinnipeds and up to five different species.

Humpback whale at surface in blue water. ©Tim Hauf,
Whale Watching

Over 30 different marine mammal species can be found in the park. For best viewing take a trip with Island Packers.


If time is a limiting factor in your visit, consider the following suggestions:

One Hour
Stop by one of our visitor centers in Ventura or Santa Barbara.

Half Day
Take a half-day non-landing boat tour around Anacapa or a half-day, express boat trip to Anacapa or Santa Cruz Islands via Island Packers. During gray whale season (December through April), take a half-day whale watch trip out of Ventura, Oxnard, or Santa Barbara Harbors.

Full Day
Take a day trip to any of the park islands via our park concessionaires. During blue whale season (Spring through Summer), take an all day whale watch trip out of Ventura or Santa Barbara Harbors.

Multiple Days
Camp on any of our park islands or take a multi-day, multi-island, live-aboard boat trip.

Last updated: November 10, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, CA 93001


805 658-5730

Contact Us