Friday marks the first trip of the year to one of the so-called outer islands at Channel Islands National Park. Those three land masses--Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara--are far enough from the mainland that during winter, seas get a bit too rough for safe passage.
That said, travelers headed to San Miguel, the furthest-out island reached by a three-hour one-way trip, can still encounter hefty summer seas and end up on a different island instead--often Santa Rosa, which is the most frequented outer island.
In all, there are 45 scheduled trips to the outer islands, but not all are equally frequented. Here's a basic overview:
- Santa Rosa Island: 23 scheduled trips (about 2.5 hours each way) between April 29th and October 7th
- San Miguel Island: 14 scheduled trips (about 3.5 hours each way) between May 27th and October 15th.
- Santa Barbara Island: 8 trips (about 3.5 hours each way) scheduled between July 21st and October 23rd
Passengers also must take an additional short skiff ride from the boat to beach at San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands (Santa Rosa's pier should be fixed by mid-summer). Santa Barbara Island has a pier, but a skiff may still be used depending on the tide.
For specifics on all trips--day trips, drop off/pick-up for campers, return times--check with Island Packers (outer and inner schedules), the National Park Service's vendor for boat trips and docking. Also: Santa Rosa Island is also open year round for those who choose to fly.