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Whale Watching & Wildlife Island Cruise

Naturalist-led Whale Watching Adventure!

What's Included

  • 3 hour boat trip w/ visit to Anacapa Island by boat
  • Captain, Crew and Naturalist
  • Wildlife Tour & Whale Watching

Select your trip dates

Select your trip dates

What's Included

  • 3 hour boat trip w/ visit to Anacapa Island by boat
  • Captain, Crew and Naturalist
  • Wildlife Tour & Whale Watching

Trip Details

See Whales, Dolphins & Other Amazing Wildlife in the Santa Barbara Channel!

Experience the gray whale migration as these amazing animals make their annual northern migration up the California coast to Alaska with their calves in tow. Visit the picturesque Anacapa Arch & cruise the coastline of Anacapa Island!

Pod of dolphins at the Channel Islands

Location Information

  • Departure Harbor: Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard CA (Marine Emporium Landing)
  • Destination: Anacapa Island & the Santa Barbara Channel

Trip Specific Information

  • This trip operates from January through mid April
  • Guaranteed Whale Season: February 14 to April 10
  • Minimum Number of Guests: 6
  • Maximum Number of Guests: 45
Humpback whale, Santa Barbara Channel, California

Important Times

Trip Duration: 3 hours

AM Whale Watching

  • Morning Trip Check-In: 8:15 AM
  • Departure: 8:30 AM
  • Return to Channel Islands Harbor: 11:30 AM

PM Whale Watching

  • Afternoon Trip Check-In: 12:15 PM
  • Afternoon Trip Departure: 12:30 PM
  • Return to Channel Islands Harbor: 3:30 PM

What to Expect…

Orca Whales are sometimes a rare treat to see during the gray whale migration.

Every year, gray whales embark on an epic migration from Alaska all the way to Baja California, where they birth their calves. Mothers and their young calves then migrate north along the California coastline back to Alaska during the late winter and spring, which is when we encounter them on our whale watching tips!

We are lucky enough to have them visit Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary starting in February.

Be on the lookout for a variety of other whale and dolphin species that can bee seen during our trip as well!

Learn More about the Gray Whale Migration Here

The Santa Barbara Channel is a global hotspot for biodiversity and marine life. Dolphins, whales, sea lions, and over 30 other marine mammal species thrive in the abundant waters off our shore.

The crossing from Oxnard to Anacapa Island is only 14 miles, which we can cross in just over an hour. During the whale migration north, over 2,000 whales will make their way through this narrow corridor on their way back to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska.

Gray whales migrate close to shore on their northern return journey to Alaska making this portion of the Santa Barbara Channel is the best and easiest place to view the gray whale’s migration!

The Anacapa Arch is the tallest arch feature in the Channel Islands National Park.

Anacapa 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 Ancapa 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.

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.

Anacapa is composed of three islets: East Island, Middle Island and West Island. 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 origins of air pockets, lava tubes, and sea caves. At the east end of the island a natural bridge has formed in the ocean. The forty-foot-high Cabrillo Arch is a trademark of Anacapa and the Channel Islands National Park. The highest peak is Summit Peak 2 on West Island at 930 feet.

The Sunfish Whale Watching crew is ready and excited to share their passion and enthusiasm for whales and the Santa Barbara Channel.

Alex

Captain Alex L.

Captain Alex can usually be found on, in, or under the water.  He has had a love of the ocean from a very early age.  He developed this love of the water by going on weekly fishing trips in the Santa Barbara Channel with his father and uncles from the age of two. He is a USCG licensed Captain and a certified PADI Rescue Diver.  He has captained many scuba diving, kayaking, and whale watching expeditions around the Channel Islands.  In addition to recreational tours, he has also captained for Hollywood film crews such as James Cameron and the Travel Channel show Destination Unknown, taking them to film locations on and under the water.  He also has experience captaining for NOAA and other research agencies.

Whale next to the boat

Evan B. – Crew

Evan grew up on the Santa Barbara Channel and from a young age has had a deep love and passion for the ocean and the animals that call it home. Evan is a trained naturalist and drone/camera photographer extraordinaire. He volunteers with Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institution to help stranded mammals and give back to the ocean and its wildlife.

Pre Trip Planning

What to bring with you?

  • Snack and beverages – a small cooler is fine if you want to keep things cool.
  • Water – reusable water bottles can be filled onboard.
  • Warm boat clothing – street clothes are fine, dress in layers. Long pants are recommended. Jackets and blankets may also make you more comfortable.
  • Motion sickness medicine and personal medications.
  • Gratuity for crew.

Local Restaurants & Lodging

Stay for a seafood dinner or drinks at the Marine Emporium after your trip. There are many restaurants right where the Sunfish picks you up and drops you off, some with harbor views.

Book a weekend visit! Stay at the Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort-only a few minutes drive to the harbor. Right on the beach, this is an excellent place to relax after an adventurous day at Anacapa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you guarantee whales?

From February 14th to April 14 we guarantee you will see gray whales or another type of large whale species. We almost always see dolphins, which are toothed whales :), but these are not included in our promise to you.

If we don’t see whales, you can return on any whale watching trip we operate during the same season. An email will be send post trip with a code to rebook for free!

How long is the whale watching trip?

We do a 3 hour loop from Oxnard to Anacapa Island and back.

Do we land on the island?

We do not land at Anacapa Island, but we will usually get close enough for you to see the birds on the rocks and a visit to the Anacapa Arch.

Do we offer private trips to Anacapa?

Yes, you can charter the entire boat for a 3 hour tour. Call for details.

Testimonials

tanner
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

1st Sea Kayaking Experience

Amazing experience led by Garrett and his team to the Channel Islands. I had travelled from Hawaiʻi for this 4 day adventure. I'm not a diver (they had a ton of opportunities for them) but was able to free-dive and go kayaking. I had never kayaking on the ocean like this but felt incredibly confident with the instruction from the guides and crew. Incredibly competent and friendly, the trip felt completely about the participant experience. Kayaking around and seeing all the Harbor & Elephant seals and sea lions was an amazing experience. Their knowledge on the water, the wildlife, and especially the history of the place made for an experience I've been recommending to friends since the trip. Great grub too!
5/5stars

- | Google

mark r
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Kayaking Channel Islands

Did this with my wife and 4 of our friends. Drove up from the IE , 2 hour drive, well worth it! What a great crew! Very knowledgeable about the island and surrounding area. Going in and out of the caves was awesome, though challenging at times but that made it even more enjoyable. If you are considering this trip, DO IT! We WILL do it again.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

david c
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Anacapa Caves

Great outfit. Very professional guides, safety and COVID conscious. I went on a trip to Anacapa Island in mid-November. The cruise out was pretty quick. The wildlife on the way was excellent. The caves and rocks on Anacapa were wonderful to play in. I will return again when the Gray Whales begin to head back up the coast. I highly recommend them.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

Chuyên L.
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Channel Island National Park

Channel Island National Park so amazing and beautiful places. And The Wild Blue Adventurer was professional. We loved it . Thanks You so Mụch for get we the nice trip .
5/5stars

- | Yelp

john s
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Father and Son day

I had an epic day with my son in late July 2020. Our guide Phil was a UCSB grad, marine biologist who was in area, as his normal guiding in Antarctica was limited due to Covid. The boat staff was knowledgeable, friendly and worked hard to make our day both enjoyable and safe. Only 8 people on a boat that can hold 30-40 and they were very Covid compliant. Masks in the boat at all times (except lunch - bring your own food) and outdoor seating but could take off masks in the double kayaks. Really easy and felt safe and compliant. 10 out of 10 and I'm a tough critic.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

yelp
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

5 Night Liveaboard Trip

Recently went on a 5 night, 6 day liveaboard trip off the Truth. The crew and captains were all very nice and welcoming. The boat has great safety protocols to ensure us divers were safe throughout the entirety of this trip. Chef Tim was fantastic! I have never had better quality food on a boat trip, and he has definitely set the bar high. We had amazing homemade dishes almost every meal, he had vegetarian and vegan options as well. I would 100% recommend this boat to anyone interested in planning a multi-day dive trip to the Channel Islands.

5/5stars

- | Yelp

jelly fish
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Kayaking Anacapa Arch

We had a wonderful time kayaking through the sea caves and Anacapa Arch.  All the on board staff were excellent.  We will definitely come back and do a different tour with them.

5/5stars

- | Yelp

go blue icon
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Great Family Day Adventure

We had the BEST first time kayaking experience with Blue Ocean. Garret and his crew are great! The Anacapa tour is something special... we all loved it! It was a perfect day for our family. We highly recommend!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Another great day kayaking with Blue Ocean

We had a great day at Anacapa with Garrett, Jordan and the rest of the crew. We paddled for about 3 hours but it is not too strenuous, so if you are wondering if you can do it, you probably can! Thank you, Blue Ocean Crew!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

HIGHLY RECOMMEND

LOVED IT! Truly an amazing experience that I will never forget. Awesome crew, wonderful day, all around great time. I hope to do it again some day!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
Whale Watching & Island Cruise
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

A great time!

Even though it was a foggy day, we had a great time. The boat crew was great and friendly. Garrett the guide was knowledgeable and friendly. He even saved a pelican-"Birdie Sanders" .
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor