Channel Islands National Park Day Trip Hiking

Channel Islands National Park is a beautiful day trip hiking getaway island that you could visit with your family in Ventura, California. IslandPackers.com  has a spacious vessel that is exclusively permitted (by the Coast Guard) to take passengers to Channel Islands National Park. Take a sneak peek into our hike..

ventura ca - channel islands

The Island Packer crew was awesome, they hosted us for the day trip to the island. The boat has a cool snack bar filled with chips, drinks, fruit, burgers, and even a little wine. It’s has plenty of space to fit a few friends in a table bench nook, or keep it intimate with a mini table for two. The entire boat has enough seats to fit 40-50 people, which includes the upper deck. I highly recommend that you place a reservation at least 2 weeks before you plan your island trip. With the Spring coming up, it’s better to save your seat than to be lucked out.

island packers

There is so much to share about the beautiful Ventura Harbor Village, that I can’t even share it all with just one post to the beautiful seaside town. We arrived to check-in at 8:15 am and boarded to leave by 9am. When you’re near the shore, you’ll notice the overcast and mist, don’t be alarmed, the island weather was beautiful!

Channel Island National Park Itinerary

  • Check-in 8:15am
  • Leave harbor 9am
  • Arrive at Santa Cruz Island 10am
  • Hike and Explore the Channel Island — be sure to pack your own lunch and drinks!
  • Depart the Santa Cruz Island 4pm
  • Arrive at the Ventura Harbor Village 5pm

We got to enjoy some beautiful dolphins jumping and swimming through the ocean, there 2 whale sightings, still so awesome! Keep in mind that we only actively searched for whales during the 15-20 min floating time to seek whales before we had to make our way out to the island. They offer a full 3-3.5 hour Whale Watching tour that seems to be a big hit for some tourist like ourselves. We’ll be going back to enjoy this without the boys, maybe a cute little spring date?

So what’s there to do? Ventura has various shops where you can grab breakfast just before the boat leaves the harbor, or you take your own breakfast and it’s heavily advised that you take your own snacks, lunch and drinks. We packed two backpacks with snacks and drinks. The boys devoured our pistachios!

What to Pack in your Hiking Backpack

My husband (Ernie) took a tactical backpack and I packed my canvas backpack, they’re both available on Amazon.com. With two children under the age of 6, we made sure to take enough to keep their energy levels high.

We also took jackets, sweaters and hats to help us with the fresh weather and sunshine. Using our sneakers was a good idea but we should have taken some hiking boots. Those would have been better for the slight mud that we came across. Our boys were excited to see the little and cute native island fox. Our visit to the Channel Islands National Park was filled with beautiful views and cool little moments with the boys.

channel island national park

I was so happy that upon arriving to the island, the Island Packers crew helped us with the boys. Zachary was just under 2 years old and they made sure he got on and off the boat safely. The boat pulls right up to the bridge where we simply walk across onto land and take 4 ladder steps on and off the boat. The crew was professional and so educated on the safety.

National Park Education

The best part of the day trip to Santa Cruz Island was to explore the village history, like the Native Chumash Indians, island fox, golden eagle and many other cool critters. The entire island is under a restoration to help make it greener and prettier. Did you know that Ventura California has the safest beach? Drop by the Harbor Cove and get a glimpse for yourself. You can find some cool live broadcast and lectures online, they’re awesome for kids of all ages (and adults).

If you love the coast, you can see our trip to Pismo Beach, California and how much fun it is to go off-roading in the sand dunes.

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