Channel Islands National Park

National Park in Santa Barbara County

The Channel Islands is an eight-island chain lying off the coast from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara. The four northern islands – San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa – along with tiny southern Santa Barbara comprise Channel Islands National Park. There are extensive tide pools and kelp forests, and almost 150 plant and a few animal species that are unique to the islands. Access by boat from Ventura or Oxnard.

On Anacapa, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa you can access several snorkeling, diving, swimming and kayaking opportunities among the kelp beds and sandy beaches. San Miguel and Santa Barbara are host to colonies of northern elephant seals.

Beautiful any time of year, the islands receive most visitors between June and September. The best times to visit are during the spring wildflower season (April and May) and in September and October when the fog clears. Winters are often stormy but are ideal for whale-watching.