Channel Islands
Credit: David Webb

Biodiverse, beautiful and rich with recreational opportunities — welcome to California’s Channel Islands National Park, one of the least-visited national parks in America.

Accessed via a one-hour ferry ride from Ventura, California, Channel Islands National Park consists of eight rugged, volcanically formed islands that beg to be explored. Having risen from the sea some five million years ago, the islands form not only a unique and isolated ecosystem, but they also harbour the world’s largest collection of sea caves. This makes the Channel Islands ideal for sea kayaking — with a twist. Strap on your helmets, forgo claustrophobia and get ready to discover the sea caves of California’s Channel Islands National Park with Channel Islands Outfitters and explore magazine:

Watch the Video Here:

Channel Islands Trivia:

  • Home to 145 endemic species of flora and fauna.
  • Home of North America’s oldest dated human remains.
  • Location of one of the world’s largest sea caves (Painted Cave, 370 metres long).
  • Channel Islands' native fox is North America’s smallest canid.
  • Location of California's largest breeding colonies of seabirds.
  • About 10% of Earth’s blue whales aggregate in the area during summer.
  • More endangered species exist on the Channel Islands than in any other American national park.

Read more about this adventure in the Fall 2014 issue of explore — on newsstands September 8.

More Local Adventures

Hiking and camping is also a top-draw to the Channel Islands. Scorpion Ranch, on Santa Cruz Island, is the most popular site — access via a short walk from Scorpion Anchorage. Backcountry campers can make the six-kilometre hike from Prisoner’s Harbour (Santa Cruz Island) to Del Norte backcountry campsite, where, according to those in the know: “the stargazing is incredible.”

Rent a stand-up paddleboard from Channel Islands Kayak Center, at Marine Emporium Landing in nearby Oxnard, and cruise past mega-yachts, scenic waterfront and the occasional sunbathing sea lion during a SUP-tour of Channel Islands Harbour’s working waterways.

Oxnard and Ventura boast relatively uncrowded white-sand beaches with reliable surf breaks. According to Craig Diltz, from Oxnard’s Channel Islands Kayak Center, top spots in the area include Ventura Point, Faria Beach Park (“a mini Waikiki”) and Hueneme.