In 1980, because of their cultural and natural resources, five of the eight channel islands were designated as the Channel Islands National Park. The islands themselves are open to the public 365 days a year. The mainland visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The visitor center can be reached by telephone at 805-658-5730. The mainland address of the visitor center is 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, California, 93105.
The actual channel islands are home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals. One hundred forty-five of these species can be found nowhere other than on the channel islands. Sometimes within the almost 250,000 acres of the park - half of which are underwater - a visitor might be lucky enough to see a pod of blue whales. The blue whale is the largest mammal on earth and on the endangered species list.
A short afternoon day trip to the visitor center can be fun and educational. Almost 300,000 people visit the center annually. Although the visitor center on the mainland is an interesting place and the ocean view is stunning, a person has not really had the channel islands experience if he doesn't make the trip to the islands. Only about 60,000 visitors venture into the waters of the Channel Islands National Park and only around 30,000 make it to the islands themselves. Fortunately, for the adventurous visitor there are a variety of transports available to the channel islands.
For boat travel, Island Packers are the channel islands designated vendor if you are leaving from Ventura or the Channel Island Harbors. Island Packers offers half-day, full day and multi-day excursions. Complete information about their trips to the channel islands can be obtained by calling 805-642-1393.
If your trip to the channel islands begins in the Santa Barbara Harbor, Truth Aquatics is the designated vendor. For information about their excursions (one day to multi-day) call 805-962-1127.
Should you need information about channel islands flights, the designated vendor is Channel Islands Aviation. Flights to channel islands range from one day scenic excursions to channel islands flights which last for several days of camping on the islands. To receive details about the available flights to channel islands, call 805-987-1301.
If you choose to make an effort to get to the channel islands, you will be amply rewarded. There are brown pelicans who fish on ocean anchovies and return to their nest homes on West Anacapa Island. You might also glimpse an island fox. The island fox is a cousin of the grey fox found on the mainland. However, because the island fox evolved in isolation on the channel islands, he is only about the size of a house cat.
Whale watching is another wondrous activity available on the channel islands. From January through March, you might spy gray whales. From June through October, blue whales and humpback whales swim past the channel islands in their migration patterns.
So whether you decide to make a quick trip to the mainland visitor facility of the Channel Islands National Park or take one of the flights to channel islands, sun, surf, beauty and education will be your companions.