Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

Last week, my friend Jen invited me to kayak through the Channel Islands. I hadn’t been kayaking in probably two decades. I knew “kind of” about the Channel Islands but didn’t see much. It was a lot of fun and something I would do it again.

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

About the Channel Islands:

The Channel Islands are a national park off the coast of Santa Barbara. There are five islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara. The entire park consists of 249,354 acres. Half are actually under the water!

The Channel Islands were designated a U.S. National Monument in 1938, followed by a Biosphere Reserve in 1976. They were finally established as a National Park in 1980, including a marine sanctuary protecting six nautical miles of water around the park. Another fun fact, the Channel Islands have about 13,000 years of human history. You can learn more about the Channel Islands here.

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

Kayaking at the Channel Islands:

To get to the Channel Islands, you need to take a ferry. You can purchase Channel Island tickets here. We chose Ventura to Scorpian Point (Santa Cruz) because that is where we were kayaking through the Channel Islands.

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

The Ventura to Scoprian Point Ferry address is: 1691 Spinnaker Drive #105B Ventura, Ca 93001

There is a gift shop where you can buy fun Channel Island souvenirs as well as get your national park pass stamped.

What to know about the Channel Islands:

  • You pack in/pack out. There are no trashcans
  • There are no restaurants or food. You must bring your own.
  • They do have port potties.
  • The kayaking company brings water.

Luckily we were prepared with everything. I didn’t think there was water, so I got an entire gallon.

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

Why kayaking? Why not? We decided kayaking would be a lot of fun. We chose the Adventure Sea Cave Kayak Tour at Scorpion Anchorage. It was about a 3-hour tour that left Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. You can purchase kayaking at the Channel Islands tickets here.

They recommended getting to the ferry in Ventura around 30 minutes to an hour early. We did, and checking in was easy. We also got a good seat on the ferry. I have gotten seasick a few times, so I was worried that might happen. Luckily, I didn’t get seasick at all. We left in a deep fog on the way out, but when we arrived in Santa Cruz, the weather was perfect. On the way out, we even saw a large pod of dolphins!

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

Once we arrived, we checked it to prepare for Kayaking at the Channel Islands. We had about an hour of orientation, and I wasn’t sure what to expect! Our guide was excellent and taught us everything from paddling to steering. My friend and I were in a tandem kayak. Honestly that was probably really helpful for me (a weak kayaker) and not as helpful for her. Our guide helped us launch out, and off we went.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the kayaking at the Channel Islands. I also didn’t know my ability because I cannot remember the last time I went kayaking (it had to be in grade school?). The open water was challenging, but not the weather was pretty pleasant. Despite being July, I opted for long sleeves, and I’m glad I did. It would have been cold without it! The ocean was rough at times, but there was never anything I felt dangerous in.

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

What I didn’t know, and it was so cool, was that kayaking at the Channel Islands takes you through many caves. We got to see several different shelters and challenged ourselves (luckily not in a dangerous way) to kayak through some tight areas. I definitely think it was a cool experience that I would do again.


It is $186 per adult plus the ferry  ($63) to kayak through the Channel Islands. Is it worth it? I think so, it was an entire day of fun, and you can relax at the beach and go hiking afterward.

Kayaking Through the Channel Islands

Kayaking through the Channel Islands Conclusion:

I had a lot of fun and am glad I did it. I cannot wait to explore more of the Channel Islands because they are a true escape from Los Angeles. It feels like a whole different world out there!

Who should do the kayaking through the Channel Islands? If you are looking for a fun adventure, you are in moderate shape to be out on a kayak for 2+ hours.

Who should not do the Kayaking through the Channel Islands? I can’t think of a reason other than being unable to kayak for 2 hours. It is such a scenic way to see the Islands.

You can see more things to do in California here.

Questions for you:

Have you been to the Channel Islands?

Have you been kayaking?