Channel Islands

I wish to welcome you to Channel Islands National Park, one of North America’s magnificent treasures. Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, The California Channel Islands consist of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands, and their ocean environment. The Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world.

Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the blue whale, the largest animal to live on Earth. In 1980 Congress created the Channel Islands National Park. The islands were set aside by Congress to preserve these resources. Just to visit these islands, you will be one of a very select group. Few people actually see these islands because they are not easy to get to, you can’t drive to the islands.

The park is one of the least visited of all of America’s national parks. The relatively light visitation enhances the islands’ feeling of solitude and assists in the protection of fragile resources. In establishing the park, Congress recognized the value of solitude by allowing for low intensity, limited entry visitation. It will always be a place where you can step back in time and experience coastal southern California the way it once was.

Aboard the Bella Luna you will have the opportunity to experience and view an extremely rich and diverse community of marine mammals around the Channel Islands. Many species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins) either breed on the islands or feed in the productive waters of the Santa Barbara Channel.

Visitors to the islands often spot huge pods of common dolphins and smaller groups of Risso’s dolphins, and occasionally see the more rare pacific white-sided and bottle nose dolphins. During the winter pacific gray whales migrate between summer feeding grounds in Alaska and breeding areas in Baja, Mexico, passing through the Santa Barbara Channel. Gray whales are often seen by passengers on whale-watching trips between December and March. Other whale species such as humpbacks and fin whales are less common, but can occasionally be seen during the summer when they come to the channel to feed. California sea lions are often seen by boaters as they haul-out on sea buoys and offshore rock. Be ready to be amazed by the variety of marina life and beautiful scenery.