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Ultimate 5 Day Expedition

Liveaboard and Explore Channel Islands National Park

$2150/adult

$1950/child

$1900/person for groups of 4 or more

(meals and accommodations included)

Spend 5 days exploring Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary – hiking, kayaking, diving, snorkeling, you name it! Its like summer camp for adults!

Expedition Highlights

OUR FLAGSHIP EXPEDITION – A 5 Day Voyage Through the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary

  • Explore Channel Islands National Park on a unique multi-sport adventure that offers world-class snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, wildlife, and much more – Summer Camp for Adults!
  • Swim and snorkel through kelp forests and see abundant underwater life.
  • Kayak through sea caves and arches along the dramatic volcanic coast line.
  • Hike on Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands
  • Ocean wilderness experience, you’ll be in a remote area with the experts.
  • Guides and naturalists share knowledge of Channel Islands National Park
  • Nightly presentations about the islands’ natural and cultural history
  • Healthy and delicious food served everyday.
  • 5 star galley services w/ beverage bar

Expedition Details

Important Times

  • Pre-boarding: 10:00 AM
  • Waiver and Cert Check In: 5:00 – 6:00 PM
  • Boarding Buffet and Orientation: 6:30pm
  • Boarding Gates Close: 9:00 PM
  • Duration: 5 nights and 4 days
  • Return to Santa Barbara: by 5:00 PM on the fifth day

Your Expedition Vessel – VISION

  • Overnight Capacity – 24 people in 16 oversized and 8 personal bunks.
  • Bunks are dressed with pillows, blankets, and privacy curtains.

Destinations

  • San Miguel Island
  • Santa Rosa Island
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Anacapa Island

Trip Specific Information

  • Season: July-October
  • Adventure Level: Easy to moderate
  • Minimum Age:  7 years old
  • Maximum Number of Guests:24

Departure Harbor

Santa Barbara Landing – Santa Barbara Harbor
301 West Cabrillo Blvd
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Cuisine

Organic Produce from Tutti Frutti Farms

We source most of our produce from the local farmers’ markets in order to serve a seasonal, sustainable, and healthy menu.

We can accommodate the following diets and ALL severe food allergies:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free (we do not provide gluten free bread)
  • If you have any severe food allergies, please inform us at least 7 days prior to departure so our galley can plan correctly. Thank you.

Channel Islands Expeditions employs world-class chefs with decades of experience. Learn more about what to expect from our galley chefs.

Plan A

PRE-BOARDING

Boarding begins at 10am so you can leave your gear when you arrive in Santa Barbara on board and then go enjoy the shopping and food in downtown which is a short walk from the boat.harbor

We invite you to take out kayaks from our harbor Paddle Sports Center if you want to get comfortable paddling in calm waters before we launch you at San Miguel Island.

At 5pm we begin checking in the group and getting the paperwork complete. Food is served at 6:30pm and we close the boarding gates at 9pm. If you need to leave the VISION, you must check-in with a crew member so we don’t leave anyone behind as our departure time is based on the changing weather.

GET TO KNOW YOUR NATIONAL PARK AND CREW

During our boarding orientation we’ll pass out National Park literature and maps so you can get situated with where we’re going and follow the captains plan for your island expedition.

We have a large crew for our expeditions, so you’ll have a chance to meet everyone and they’ll get a chance to meet you, the guests.

Our style is to always share some useful information and we’re always open to questions and side conversations. There is alot to share and more to learn, so we’ll try to keep things brief but interesting!

MORNING KAYAKING
As the northernmost channel island, San Miguel is subject to rapid weather changes and high winds. San Miguel’s shifting weather patterns can make kayaking here more challenging, however, good weather periods do occur. The remoteness and wildlife at this island make kayaking here incredibly unique. Large seal and sea lion colonies are spread out along the shores. Many varieties of seabirds call this home and dolphins and whales are commonly sighted near shore.Happy customers enjoying a sandy beach walk

AFTERNOON HIKING
There are several trails that traverse San Miguel Island, providing a variety of hikes. Many parts of the island are closed to protect wildlife, fragile plants, and geological features. Hikes outside of the Cuyler Harbor beach, Cabrillo Monument, and Lester Ranch are done with a qualified naturalist or park ranger.  A vigorous 16-mile hike to Point Bennett will take you to see one of the most spectacular wildlife events on our planet: over 30,000 seals and sea lions sunning themselves on the point, depending on the season. There is no pier on San Miguel Island so all landings are done by skiff at Cuyler Harbor. Landing on the island can be an exciting experience as the surf can make the landing challenging.

San Miguel Island is more prone to receive the brunt of any weather systems that move through the area. Most of the time a strong northwest wind blows across the island and these winds typically exceed 25 mph and can surpass 50 mph. When strong high pressure is over the mainland, the winds often cease creating a surreal environment. On warmer days the fog will burn off only to have the strong northwest wind blow in additional fog from the open ocean. On foggy days the temperature will rarely exceed 55°F.

The National Park Service maintains two airstrips, a ranger station, and a research station on the island. San Miguel is normally staffed by a ranger who enforces park laws, while also sometimes providing interpretive services for public visitors. The island also hosts scientists that study pinnipeds and manage the Island fox (Urocyon littoralis) captive breeding program that is conducted on the island. Volunteer interpretive rangers often fill in for regularly paid rangers due to budget deficits within the park. Park employees and researchers are flown to the island by Channel Islands Aviation. Public visitors are not permitted to fly in.

PERHAPS SOME DIVING & SNORKELING
San Miguel has some of the most spectacular scuba diving found anywhere off the coast of California. On any given day the water can be 10 to 15 degrees colder at San Miguel so proper equipment (7 mm wetsuit minimum or drysuit) is needed to enjoy this remote dive location. The topography at its offshore pinnacles makes a diver feel small. Mountainous pinnacles can go from 20 feet of water to 200 on some walls. More varieties of seals and sea lions can be viewed here than on any other Channel Island. Protected coves, banks, offshore rocks, and pinnacles make this a sought-after destination for SCUBA divers. Weather protects this island from frequent human visitation. A nice day at San Miguel is about as good as it gets.

MORNING KAYAKING
Kayaking at Santa Rosa Island is a fascinating way to experience the wild and rugged coastline of this remote place. The sandy beaches and cliffs are breeding and resting areas for sea birds, seals, and sea lions. Kayaking is often the best way to view all the unique wildlife on the island without disturbing animals in their natural habitat.  As with San Miguel, inclement weather may strike at any time. Weather conditions can affect the difficulty of paddling at Santa Rosa.

AFTERNOON HIKING
Hiking with Channel Islands Expeditions on Santa Rosa Island will lead you down some of the trails and roads that traverse the island, providing plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spectacular scenery Santa Rosa provides. These trails and roads range from the relatively flat route to Water Canyon Beach to the rugged, mountainous path to Black Mountain.Hike on one of the channel Islands

A variety of Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana var. insularis) grows on the island. The population of this endangered species is estimated at approximately 1000 trees. This ancient grove is just a remnant of a much larger forest of Torrey pines that once existed in the Pleistocene era, some 12,000 years ago. A trail that leads to this exceedingly rare species of pine tree can be accessed from Becher’s Bay, the island’s main landing.

Keep a sharp eye out for the Island fox, Spotted skunk, and Munchkin dudleya (Dudleya gnoma); one of the six endemic plant species on the island.

EVENING FISHING AND RELAXING

After the days planned kayaking and hiking are complete you’ll have free time to relax, meet someone new, read a book, or cast a line and see what you can catch.

MORNING KAYAKING
Given it’s ample 77-mile coastline, Santa Cruz Island has a vast number of kayaking destinations that you are able to visit with Channel Islands Expeditions. An expedition with CIEX is the only way to see a vast majority of the island’s scenic shoreline, as most of the island itself is closed to conventional tourism.

Santa Cruz Island has a huge variety of flora and fauna that live on and around its craggy cliff lines and giant sea caves. The west end of Santa Cruz Island is where you’ll find one of the world’s biggest sea caves, Painted Cave – so named for the vibrant lichen growth on the cave walls. Measured at a towering 160 ft at its mouth, Painted Cave stretches back into the basalt cliff face for over a quarter-mile before reaching its terminus. Expect to see plenty of playful sea lions and seals as well as a host of birdlife here.

AFTERNOON HIKING
There are several hiking trails and roads that traverse the eastern portion of Santa Cruz Island which is part of the Channel Islands National Park. While visitors may explore this section, no hiking is allowed beyond the national park boundary onto The Nature Conservancy property to the west without first obtaining a permit. Landings onto Santa Cruz are either by pier or by skiff. Potential landing areas include Prisoners Harbor and Smugglers Cove.

Once on Santa Cruz, a well-marked trail system will take you to several scenic overlooks of the island’s coastline, as well as to areas of natural and historical significance. Consult your Channel Islands Expeditions trip leaders as to what may be possible on your expedition, as there are many places to explore on this island. Wherever you go, be sure to keep a sharp eye out for some of the island’s many endemic species found here, including the island scrub-jay and the island fox.

EVENING DIVING & SNORKELING

Santa Cruz Island offers the most diverse array of dive sites out of all eight Channel Islands. Warm southern and colder northern currents create unique marine habitats for many different species. Being the largest of California’s Channel Islands, there is a wide variety of different dive spots to explore around Santa Cruz Island, each with its own unique characteristics. Santa Cruz offers more places to find good diving during rough weather periods than any other island due to its size (Santa Cruz is the largest Channel Island).

The northwest section of the island is volcanic with steep faces and hosts some of the world’s largest sea caves. The southeast section is more sedimentary with large plateaus and thick kelp beds. Seals, sea lions, bat rays, and schools of fish are common sights while scuba diving with Channel Islands Expeditions along this island’s shores.

Anacapa Island is a small volcanic island located 14 miles off the coast of Ventura County. The smallest of the northern Channel Islands, Anacapa was used intermittently by the indigenous Chumash people for thousands of years. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to discover Anacapa in 1542, calling it “Vela Falsa” or false sail. In 1793, Captain George Vancouver christened the island Anacapa, a name derived from the Chumash word, “’ Anyapax,” which translates to ‘illusion’ or ‘mirage.’ Anacapa is the only Channel Island to maintain its original Chumash name.  Anacapa’s dramatic sea cliffs are often shrouded by marine haze or fog, giving the island an air of mystery.

kayaking into the sea cave

Anacapa is composed of three islets: East, Middle, and West. Altogether, the islets make up a narrow island that is 5 miles long and only a ¼ mile wide. Ocean waves have eroded the perimeter of the island, creating steep sea cliffs towering hundreds of feet in height and exposing the volcanic air pockets, lava tubes, and sea caves. At the east end of the island, a natural bridge has formed in the ocean. This forty-foot-high arch is a trademark of Anacapa and is the symbol of Channel Islands National Park. The highest peak is on West Anacapa, rising to 930 feet.

ALL DAY WATER ACTIVITIES

We will begin our day by loading onto the kayaks and beginning the Eastward paddle down the snaking island where the most sea caves per mile exist on the planet. We explore these coves on our kayaks, and if conditions are ideal, we’ll stop for an underwater experience.

We’ll enjoy our lunch at the islands in the still waters of gorgeous island coves and begin our 3 hour return trip shortly thereafter.

SUNDECK READING AND RELAXING

On the journey home enjoy the sundeck for a nap or a good book. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for feeding whales and leaping dolphins!

RETURN TO SANTA BARBARA

We plan for a 4-5 pm return to the dock.

The Weather at the Channel Islands National Park

Resting off of the southern coast of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands is unique in many ways with the weather being the factor the controls access.

Plan A – this is what we strive for each time we depart, but we know enough to change our plan and modify the schedule to allow for poor conditions to pass and make our way West to the remote areas when we expect the weather to improve.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people can fit in an oversized bunk?

Each person is assigned a bunk, you may reserve an oversized bunk for $100 additional. Each bunk has a privacy curtain. Our nightwatch crew is there for the safety of passengers and the vessel.

What is the Age Limit?

The minimum age for this trip is 12 years old.

Do I need to know how to swim?

YES! There is no way around this. You don’t need to be excellent at swimming laps, but you need to be comfortable treading water and being in deep water.

If I am solo or in an odd number group will I be in a tandem kayak with a stranger?

We don’t allow reservations of single kayaks ahead of time, but we have single kayaks available for those of you traveling solo or in odd-numbered groups.

How difficult is the kayaking?

Generally, the level of difficulty of kayaking on this trip is beginner to intermediate. Since we are vessel-supported, all of the paddling will be downwind. However, you may have to paddle in a range of conditions so we recommend that participants be in reasonable physical shape and comfortable on the ocean.

Why don't we land on Santa Cruz or Anacapa Islands?

Currently, we only have landing permits for Santa Rosa & San Miguel, so we are unable to land on Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands.

How do we calculate ticket prices?

Traveling to the Channel Islands from the mainland is a distance ranging from 11 to 45 miles (one way) depending on where we depart from and where we go. This journey consumes both time and fuel. Crew and fuel costs account for 50% of the cost of our operations. We operate in US Waters and our vessels are inspected semi-annually by the United States Coast Guard. 

See the Detailed Ticket Costs

Customer Reviews of our Expeditions

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