Want to take an incredible vacation? Rent a yacht in Southern California for a truly unforgettable experience.
But where can you go on your chartered yacht? The waters off the coast of Southern California are filled with unique destinations to explore.
The Channel Islands are a great option for yacht trips. These five remote islands are perfect for adventure seekers who want to take in all the island sanctuary has to offer from the comfort of their own yacht rental in Los Angeles.
What are The Channel Islands?
The Channel Islands are a small group of islands directly south of Santa Barbara and east of Los Angeles. They are only accessible by boat or small aircraft. Most of the islands are public lands and there are no hotels, restaurants, stores or modern conveniences.
What you will find is ample wildlife and the chance to bask in solitude afforded by the Channel Island’s remote location. You’ll find birds that live nowhere else in the world, rare foliage and fossils of extinct animals. Sea cliffs, wildflower fields, hidden coves and vintage lighthouses give each island a different flavor and offer plenty of new things to discover. Just plan to bring a good pair of hiking boots, scuba or snorkeling gear or a kayak to explore all the islands’ wonders.
The five islands are:
- Santa Cruz Island,
- Anacapa Island,
- Santa Rosa Island,
- Santa Barbara Island,
- San Miguel Island.
Santa Cruz Island
The largest of the islands at 96 square kilometers, Santa Cruz Island is visited often since it’s so close to the mainland. It’s only about an hour by boat from Ventura and Oxnard so seafaring explorers come here often for day trips. There are miles of trails that take you to serene vistas, hidden coves and windswept bluffs.
Many of the best hiking trails start at Scorpion Canyon Campground. Walk about 4.5 miles to an overlook that towers over Potato Bay. From this vantage point, scan the waters for whales or watch sea otters diving in the kelp beds. Cavern Point is another great lookout spot for sea life. If you really want to stretch your legs, take the seven-mile hike to the beach at Smuggler’s Cove. While you’re on the island keep a look out for the Santa Cruz scrub jay, a bright blue bird that lives nowhere else in the world.
If you’d like to explore the island or its waters, look for Forney’s Cove, on the western tip of the island. Many people like to kayak in this area. You’ll need a permit from the Nature Conservancy if you want to go ashore.
Closest to the mainland, Anacapa Island is also small enough to explore in about a half a day. There are three small inlets where boats can anchor. There’s a 1930s-era lighthouse that was built to keep boats away from the rocky shoreline, but there are no services on the island.
On the island, you’ll find a two-mile trail that winds past Inspiration Point and Cathedral Cove. From these vantage points, you’ll be able to watch seals and sea lions play in the kelp beds below and if you’re lucky, you might just spot a whale. Only the eastern end of the island is open to hikers; the western side is reserved for wildlife.
By kayak, you’ll find 30 sea caves to explore. If the water is calm, you can snorkel to catch a glimpse of giant sea kelp and garibaldi, California’s state fish.
A great place to drop anchor is Frenchy’s Cove. Many yachts stop here for lunch or to dive in the calm waters.
Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island is a bit smaller than Santa Cruz island, but it’s further away from Southern California. It takes about three hours each way from Oxnard. Even though the island is remote, it’s worth stopping here. Lobo Canyon is home to eroded sandstone formations and pygmy mammoth fossils. Elsewhere on the island, find sandy beaches and a stand of wind-sculpted Torrey pine trees. The island is one of two places in the world where the trees grow.
Santa Barbara Island
Santa Barbara Island is so remote that commercial boats don’t bring passengers here very often. So by having your a yacht rental at your disposal, you can among a very select group of visitors. The trip is worth it too. A hike up Signal Peak Trail affords a 360-degree view blue waters surrounding the island. It’s truly a spectacular site!
San Miguel Island
San Miguel Island offers plenty of hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts but the island is remote and a permit is required to visit the island. Wildflower viewing is exceptional in the late winter and early spring. Look for seabirds in Nidever Canyon since the winds may make it difficult to spot them near the shore line. You also may luck into a glimpse of the elusive island fox or explore the tidal pool at the eastern end of Cuyler Harbor.
Visitors to the island should self register and sign liability waivers at the trailhead at Nidever Canyon. However, before heading to San Miguel Island, check with the National Park Service to ensure the island is open to visitors.
Things to Remember When Going to the Channel Islands
If you’re going to take your chartered yacht to the Channel Islands, you need to keep a few in mind.
- No fishing is allowed within the marine reserves around the islands. You may also need a California Fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp. Tuna fishing is excellent in the waters outside the marine reserves, and the Tweener Center Console tender will come in handy.
- The islands are most popular June through September but April and May offer the best chances for seeing wildflowers and September and October offer the calmest conditions.
Planning to rent a yacht in Southern California? Consider cruising out to the Channel Islands to see some truly unique landscapes and wildlife. For the most comfortable trip, we recommend a yacht of at least 80 feet.
To reserve your private yacht or for a recommendation for the right yacht for your Channel Islands adventure, please contact us today.