Channel Islands National Park

STATE: California

The easiest harbor for embarking on your first foray to the Channel Islands is Ventura Harbor, about 30 miles south of Santa Barbara. Ventura Harbor is home to four marinas and the Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center, and it’s just 18 nautical miles from Santa Cruz Island, the largest and most visited of the Channel Islands. Although there are no marinas on the Channel Islands themselves, there are anchorages available. There are no public mooring balls for pickup, so make sure your ground tackle is well set before you dinghy ashore.

It’s always advisable to keep an eye on the weather, regardless of what season you’re cruising, and even though you will be boating relatively close to shore. Santa Barbara Channel can be unpredictable, so always prepare for cool temperatures, fog, rough seas, high winds, and plenty of sea spray. Nevertheless, once you reach the Channel Islands, your trip will prove to be worth your effort. There are few areas to cruise in the continental United States that are so close to major urban areas and that are as pristine as the Channel Islands. If you enjoy ecotourism, you will be at home when you step ashore.