Island Packers Cruises

Cruising the California Channel Islands for Education, Recreation and Research since 1968

Home Office: Ventura Harbor
1691 Spinnaker Drive, #105B 
Ventura, CA 93001

Satillite Office: Channel Islands Harbor
3550 Harbor Boulevard 
Oxnard, CA  93035

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(805) 642-1393    
Office Hours 9:00 am  to 5:00 pm 
7 Days a Week

Do you guarantee sightings on the whale watching tours?

We do not guarantee sightings as whales are wild animals and the ocean is vast. However, our captains have many years of experience finding whales. We also closely follow their migrating patterns so we are highly successful at locating them. Please refer to our marine mammal sightings page for the most up to date information.

Why is it more expensive for camper transportation?

Campers bring more weight onto the boat with their gear than day passengers. When there is more weight it takes more fuel to make the passage to and from the islands. When passengers go out and back on the same day we only have to make two channel crossings to transport day passengers. To transport campers out and back on different days Island Packers makes four channel crossings.

What will I see on the island?

Each island experience is different. You will see many endemic species of plants, birds and fox. You will experience nature in a very personal way.

Is there transportation while on the island?

There is no public transportation on island.

Are there any shops or restaurants on the island?

There are no shops, stores or restaurants on any of the Channel Islands that make up the National Park. You should bring the provisions you will need with you.

Is there electricity on the islands?

There is no electricity for public use on any of the islands.

Do you get cell reception on the island?

There is very little cell phone reception on most of the islands. Santa Cruz Island sometimes has cell reception, however it is spotty and unreliable. It is a good idea to turn off your cell phone or put it in airplane mode during the crossing and your stay on the island otherwise your phone will roam searching for a signal and drain your battery.

If there’s an emergency, is there a way to call out?

In the event of an emergency you can contact the Ranger on duty when available. You may bring a marine radio and contact the Coast Guard.

Which should I reserve first , the boat ride or campsite reservation?

Island Packers does not travel to each island on a daily basis. Boat transportation arrangements to the island must be made before making a campsite reservation. You will have to coordinate traveling on the boat and check campsite availability prior to making either reservation. Campsites can be more difficult to obtain than boat transportation in some cases. Scheduled trips to the outer islands are less frequent so campsites may be available but we are not traveling to that location.

What is the difference between the wildlife cruise and whale watch?

A Wildlife Cruise is a narrated , non-landing tour of Anacapa Island. It will also look for wildlife such as sea lions, birds, dolphin or whales if they are in the immediate area.
A Whale Watching trip travels through the Santa Barbara Channel and looks for migrating whales as well as other species of marine life. It may or may not go near the islands.

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Can I take a cart, wagon or hand truck?

Due to limited space on the vessel restrictions apply to carts. The cart/hand truck must comply with Island Packer guidelines: No more than 30” high/long x 20” wide, must fold up flat to 4” and weigh 20lbs or less. Examples of the type of carts that meet our requirements are the MagnaCart, Ruxxac Cart or the Milwaukee folding hand truck. Wagons style carts are not permitted. 

Can I take a pet or service animal to the island?

.The islands are a closed ecosystem. The Channel Islands National Park Service does not allow pets. For service animal inquiries please contact the
Channe Island National Park direct several weeks in advance of your trip at 805-658-5730.  The approval process can take some time to complete.

Do you offer a military discount?

Yes, we offer a discount for military service members and one dependent. The discount is equal to our senior rate.

Do you see more whales on either the morning or afternoon whale watching trips?

Whale sightings are usually about equal between the morning and afternoon trips.

Where can I rent a kayak?

Kayak rentals are available from Channel Island Kayak Center. There are no kayak rentals on the islands and reservations for renal kayaks must be made in advance.  You must reserve kayak transportation with Island Packers by calling us.  Kayak transport is limited both by the National Park Service and by boat space.  Not all Island Packers boats will carry kayaks due to boat's destination schedule. Please see our Kayaking page for more information. on options for kayaking the Channel Islands National Park.

Which is the best location for kayaking?

Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage is the most popular kayaking area. Kayaking at the local islands is best for beginners and novices. The Outer Islands are for experienced kayakers who are used to the open ocean and rough water conditions.

Do I have to pay for parking?

Parking lots at both Island Packers office are controled by the Port Districts. At this time the parking is free.  All overnight travelrs must have a Parking Permit and in the Ventura Harbor must be parked in long-term parking.  Ventura overnight travelers may be issued a ticket with a $60.00 penalty if incorrectly parked. Parking is limited, especially in summer months. Groups should carpool whenever possible. All Campers will receive a parking pass when checking in on the day of their departure, if you do not get one, please be sure to ask our staff.

Can private boaters go out?

Yes, however there are no public moorings or all-weather anchorages around the islands. For detailed information about private boating to the islands please refer to the Park Service website: Click here for National Park information about private boats in the park. Mariners should have complete charts with local information before venturing into the area.

Is there a fee to get into the Channel Islands National Park?

There is no entrance fee to get into the Channel Islands National Park.

What should I pack for a day trip?

Day visitors should bring food and drink for the day.  Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz-Scorpion have potable water.  All other locations do not.  You may bring  your provisons in a ice chest/cooler (may not weight more than 45 lbs.). Food should be in animal proof containers if you will be leaving it while hiking. Please see your Island destination day trip page for a full list of what to bring for a great day.

What is the best island?

We don't play favorites as we love them all.  Each island has it's own unique qualities.  Too many to list here.  Local Islands (Anacapa & Santa Cruz) offer a short one hour travel time, maximizing your time on the island on a day trip. Outer Island have a two-three hour travle time, but open you up to more and varied wildlife viewing while traveling to these islands. Weather conditions at the local Island are usuall more calm than the northern outer islands.  Santa Cruz Island-Scorpion anchorage is the most visited island location and features family freindly hikes, great kayaking and potable water.

Which island is the best for the first visit?

Anacapa Island is a great choice for the first time. It takes a short time to arrive and after climbing the 157 steps it offers a short hike, lighthouse, and inspirational panoramic views.
Santa Cruz Island is another great choice. It offers a variety of hiking trails. It also has an interactive visitor’s center as well as a cobblestone beach.

Does the boat sell food?

Yes, we offer a selection of snacks and hot and cold beverages including beer and local wine for purchase.  Non-alcoholic beverages cost between $1.00 and $3.00.  Beer and Wine cost between $4.00-$600.  Snacks and microwavable items cost between $1.00-$4.00

How long does it take to get to the islands?

For Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island, the normal channel crossing time is slightly over one hour. Time can vary because we do stop for wildlife, dolphins and whales. Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara Island crossings take 2.5-3.5 hours depending on whether the vessel is scheduled for a drop off or pick up along the way at Santa Cruz or Anacapa Islands. San Miguel Island crossing takes from 3-4.5 hours depending on itinerary, wildlife and weather.