• By Cheryl Crabtree

Ready for a day of aquatic exploration at Channel Islands National Park? Kayaking is an incredible way to discover the beauty of the park, offering an up-close perspective of its diverse marine life and stunning sea caves. Start your day with breakfast in Ventura Harbor before setting off for an unforgettable journey on the water.

Ventura Harbor Village, Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

Island Packers Cruises, Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

Channel Islands National Park, Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

Harbor Cove Cafe, Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

On The Alley (Ventura), Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

Painted Cave (Santa Cruz Island) State Marine Conservation Area, Ventura, CA, USA

Channel Islands National Park, California, USA

Santa Cruz Island, California, USA

Brophy Bros., Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

Andria's Seafood, Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA, USA

Ventura Beach Marriott, East Harbor Boulevard, Ventura, CA, USA

Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, an IHG Hotel, East Harbor Boulevard, Ventura, CA, USA

Best Places for Breakfast in Channel Islands National Park

On the Alley

In a more casual space than its fancier sibling upstairs (Brophy Bros.) in Ventura Harbor, On the Alley serves hearty breakfast burritos and bowls, avocado toast, waffle sticks, smoothies, and other items that will fill you up before you cruise across the channel.

Harbor Cove Cafe

Fuel up for the day at Harbor Cove Cafe, near the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center and the Island Packers boat ramps. Burritos, scrambles, quesadillas, and Hawaiian-style dishes. You can also order a lunch box online to pick up and take to the islands.

Best Things To Do in the Morning in Channel Islands National Park

Photo by JanetandPhil

Island Packers Cruise

Board a high-speed catamaran and cruise across the Santa Barbara Channel to Santa Cruz Island. The ride through the Santa Barbara National Marine Sanctuary offers chances for marine life sightings and gorgeous ocean vistas. The cruise takes approximately 1 hour.

Guided Kayak Tour

When your Island Packers boat arrives, a guide will meet you and other participants near the dock. You will then go the kayak launching area, gear up, and embark on a guided kayak tour to explore the island’s sea caves and kelp forests. Several options are available, depending on skill levels and time you’d like to spend out on the water. A snorkel and kayak combo is also an option.

Best Things To Do in the Afternoon in Channel Islands National Park


Post-lunch, indulge in some snorkeling. The kelp forests around Santa Cruz Island are teeming with marine life. You can rent equipment from the Channel Islands Adventure Company. Plan for about 2 hours.

Hiking on Santa Cruz Island

Spend the rest of your afternoon exploring the island’s diverse terrain. The hikes range from easy to strenuous, catering to various fitness levels. Wherever you go, make sure you allow enough time to return to the dock to catch your Island Packers ride back to Ventura Harbor.

Best Places for Dinner in Channel Islands National Park

Brophy Bros.

When you return to Ventura Harbor, head to nearby Brophy Bros. for a waterfront dining experience. Known for its fresh seafood and diverse menu, it’s a great place to unwind. Start with oysters, or a bowl of the famous clam chowder, and choose a daily special fresh from the boats.

Andria's Seafood

A super-casual, relatively affordable seafood restaurant and market, Andria’s Seafood is a great place to stop after an island trip if you don’t want to dress up. Order your chosen items grilled, steamed, stir-fried, deep fried, or sautéed — your choices run the gamut.


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Best Places to Stay in Channel Islands National Park

Ventura Beach Marriott

The comfortable, mid-range Ventura Beach Marriott hotel occupies a prime block next to Ventura Beach, a few miles north of the harbor. It has an on-site restaurant and pool.

Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach

Steps from Ventura Pier, the upscale Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach offers stunning ocean views, an on-site restaurant, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center.

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