Whale Watching & Wildlife Island Cruise

Naturalist-led Whale Watching Adventure!


$55 for Children & Seniors

$1,625 for a full private 3 hr charter

Group Discounts
5% off total booking price
11-20: 10% off total booking price
21+: 15% off total booking price

Trip Details

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

Experience the Grey Whale migration as these amazing animals make their way back 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

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
Humpback whale, Santa Barbara Channel, California

What’s Included

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

What to Expect…

Orca Whales are also common during the Grey Whale Migration.

Every year, Pacific Grey Whales embark on an epic migration from northernmost Alaska all the way to Baja California Sur. Mothers bring their young calves back with them on the journey north to Alaska.

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

Learn More about the Grey Whale Migration Here

Grey Whales migrate close to shore on their Northern return journey to Alaska.

The Santa Barbara Channel is a global hotspot for biodiversity and marine life. Dolphins, Whales, Sea Lions, and over 30 different 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.

This portion of the Santa Barbara Channel is the best and easiest place to view the California 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.

Captain Alex L.

Captain Alex

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.

Crew Evan B.

Evan B

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, and volunteers with CIMWI to help stranded mammals to give back to his love for the ocean.

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 California Grey 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 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 for only $1,625


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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!

-Allyson Arons | TripAdvisor

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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!

-Tad | TripAdvisor

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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!

-Alicia | TripAdvisor

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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" .

-Denise W | TripAdvisor