Multi-Adventure Island Expeditions

Come along with our expert Guides and Naturalists and see what wild California was like hundreds of years ago. You'll see the rugged untamed beauty of these islands and be able to return to the boat for good hot meals and a comfy place to sleep. For folks looking for more rugged accomodations, overnite camping can be arranged (see below).

Your island adventure can include:

• Guided Hiking

• Non-Guided Kayaking

• Snorkeling

• Optional* Pelagic Wildlife Adventure

Destination: Santa Barbara Island

Santa Barbara Island is the most remote island in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. We operate our vessels from  closest major port (Los Angeles harbor), 38 miles away. Santa Barbara Island has long been an adventure destination for pelagic birders, hikers, scuba divers, snorkelers, kayakers, and people just wanting to see what wild California used to be like.

Santa Barbara Island is the home to a large sea lion rookery (much to the joy of scuba divers and snorkelers), northern elephant seals, and harbor seals. Santa Barbara Island is the home to the largest breeding colony of Scripps murrelets, a threatened pelagic bird. Other birds nesting on Santa Barbara Island include: Pigeon Guillemots, brown pelicans, Xantu's murrelets, and cormorants. Recently years have seen brown boobies becoming more regular at the island and made attempts to nest as well. The offshore banks around the island have produced black-footed albatross, shearwaters, rhinocerous auklets, Cassin's auklets, and phalaropes.

For a more up close and personal tour offshore of the island we offer our optional Pelagic Wildlife Adventure.

Going ashore

Landing at Santa Barbara Island has always been weather dependant. Santa Barbara Island is small, remote and subject to offshores storms and swells. The landing pier was damaged by one of these storms in 2015. This damage has limited larger vessels making landfall, making it a challenge for researchers and large groups of visitors to access the island.

This limited access has made Santa Barbara Island even more isolated. We have obtained special permission by the National Parks Service to resume visiting this forgotten island for limited groups of visitors. Landing is only possible on the rock ledge adjacent to the pier, by a small inflatable boat, and only when weather permits. Making landfall can be physicall challenging, and is not for everybody. But, for those that up for the challenge the rewards can be great.

Camping overnite

Camping must be reserved prior to departure and a copy of the camping permit must be presented to the boat Captain and later the NPS Ranger.

NPS Rules and info for Santa Barbara Island

Camping reservations

Destination: Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island (Catalina) is just 22 miles from the mainland but a world away. The island is much larger: 22 miles in length and 8 miles at its widest. The town of Avalon (year-round pop ~4,000) at the eastern end, and another town called Two Harbors towards the western end of the island (year-round pop ~20). Two Harbors, as its name implies, is accesibile from both the lee side (front) and weather side (back). While we do have requests for private charters that include stops in these towns, the focus of most of our trips is accessing the backckountry of Catalina. The vast interior of Catalina is controlled by the Catalina Island Conservancy. They make sure that the wild areas of Catalina will always stay wild.

Catalina is dotted with pristine coves, camps that can be accessed by boat, and miles and mile of hiking trails. Catalina is home to over 60 endemic species including the Catalina island fox.

Hiking & camping overnite

Because of its proximity to the mainland Catalina can be busy during holidays and summer months. Going ashore to hike requires a day pass and staying overnite usually requires reserving a site months in advance.

To reserve a campsite go to:

Santa Barbara island
Sea Lion

Island Expeditions

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Our Mission

“At Catalina Explorer we are dedicated to connecting people to the wildlife along the coast and islands of southern California through expeditions, education, and support

of ongoing non-invasive research."


Boarding Location

Contact Us

(949) 500-4755

Expeditions to the Southern Channel Islands & Channel Islands National Park *

*(National Park Service Authorized Liveaboard & Landing Commercial Operator)

Santa Barbara island