The Channel Islands, located right off the coast of Santa Barbara, are comprised of five separate islands offering plenty to do and see for any curious traveler. Our list for why you should visit the National Park on your next vacation is composed more of activities than actual reasons, but with the best outdoor excursions around, we believe they should suffice to convince you an island hopping trip is well worth your time:


Kayaking trips are undoubtedly the most popular way to experience the Channel Islands National Park, with plenty of opportunities to plan beginning to advanced guided day trips around the islands. Visit the Santa Barbara Adventure Company website  to view different tour options. Be prepared to see wildlife of many shapes and sizes; everything from giant kelp forests filled with fish, to sea lions and dolphins!


If you’re going to venture out to the Channel Islands National Park, and camping is your thing, we highly recommend planning an overnight on one of the islands to truly get into the spirit of the place and experience the rugged outdoors head on. Available on all five islands year-round, there is one designated campground at each destination. The campgrounds are minimal but provide picnic tables and restrooms, so this option is not for the faint of heart!


For those who love fishing, the Channel Islands National Park is a must-see on your next trip to California. Renowned and loved amongst fisherman from all over, the waters off these islands are packed with huge halibut, California yellowtail, white sea bass and more. Just a heads up: a California state fishing license is required for all those who chose to partake and there are several marine protected areas around the islands, so make sure you know where to go and find a guide.


Hiking is plentiful on all five of the islands in the National Park and ranges from easy to advanced. We recommend heading to Anacapa Island’s east end and traversing one of the trails which stretch just a couple of miles until you reach the last permanent lighthouse built on the West Coast! If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, head to Santa Barbara Island for steep trails and over 5 miles of low-mountain trekking.

Snorkeling and Diving

Snorkeling and diving are both main attractions for visitors to the islands. Best done on Santa Barbara and Anacapa islands, be prepared for water that is quite cold but totally packed with wildlife. Because of the abundant kelp forests and relative isolation, you’ll find undisturbed coral reefs teeming with fish, eels, sea lion and more. Just be cautious and consider a guided tour as wind conditions can become extreme!