Since 1968, Island Packers has provided reliable, enjoyable transportation between the Ventura/Oxnard Harbors and the Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary.
Island Packers has scheduled trips departing out of the Ventura and Oxnard Harbors and is the only exclusive boat concessionaire with authorization to transport guests to the Channel Islands National Park. Three 145-capacity catamarans and one 80-passenger mono hull vessel provide half and whole day trips year round to the Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, with trips to the Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands from mid-April through the fall months.
On a personal note, we've been on Islands Packers boats a number of times and they are a class act. Great service and responsiveness.
Marine Wildlife Cruises (which do not land on the island) depart from the Harbor for 3 hour narrated cruises along the shores of Anacapa or Santa Cruz Island within the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary. Highlights include sightings of sea lions, harbor seals and marine bird life, along with the opportunity to view whales and dolphins during the channel crossing. Island Packers also offers whale watching cruises - which, depending on the time of year, are a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the Pacific's most magnificent creatures. While pods of dolphins can be seen nearly year-round, whales are a far more seasonal bunch:
- Late December-Mid April: Gray whales
- April-September: Humpback and Minke whales
- Summer & Fall: Giant Blue whales- not only the earth's largest mammal, but thought to be the largest known animal ever to have existed.
Whales aren't all these cruises have to offer, however. A trip to the Channel Islands can also mean sightings of rare birds! Though difficult, pelagic birding can be incredibly rewarding - but the real treasure trove is on the Islands themselves.
The following highlights can be found during the nesting season:
- The rare Blue-footed and Brown boobies, usually found off of Baja California
- Easy-to-spot nesting birds: Brown Pelicans, Western Gulls, Pelagic, Brandt's, and Double Crested Cormorants
- Smaller visiting nesters: Scripps's Murrelet, Cassin's Auklet, Pigeon Guillemot and the scarce Ashy Storm Petrel
Santa Cruz Island is also home to the gem of the Channel Islands birding community - the Island Scrub-jay! The Island is the only place in the world this bird is found, and is highly sought after for avid bird enthusiast's 'life lists.'
For schedules, directions, tickets and more information, visit www.islandpackers.com, or call (805) 642-1393. Office hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.