Different ways to get to San Miguel Island in California
San Miguel Island is one of the most remote destinations in the Channel Islands National Park. The Channel Islands are located off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura in California. There are a few ways to get from Los Angeles to San Miguel Island, Channel Islands National Park.
The most common transportation is by Island Packers charter boat which runs all year long, and they transport to all the other five islands. They have boats departing from Oxnard and Ventura. It will take about an hour to drive from Los Angeles to Ventura Harbor or 45 minutes to Oxnard. I find more available boats departing from their Ventura facility for the San Miguel Island.
The one-way trip from Ventura Harbor to San Miguel Island takes about 3-4 hours with a stopover at Santa Rosa island where they will drop off a bunch of passengers. Most of the passengers traveling to San Miguel island plan to camp for two to six nights but Island Packer does occasionally have day trips to the island.
The return trip will also include a stopover at Santa Rosa island to pick up returning passengers. When the weather permits, they will also take a quick excursion to the Painted Cave on Santa Cruz island.
- Visitors may now fly to San Miguel Island via Channel Islands Aviation located in the Camarillo Airport.
- Channel Islands Aviation is authorized to fly visitors to the island on a trial basis. This service was identified in the 2015 General Management Plan for Channel Islands National Park.
- The island has two landing strips with one located next to the Park Ranger station and the other near the Research facility near Point Bennett.
You can’t land your airplane on Santa Rosa or San Miguel in the Channel Islands National Park, or on strips owned by the Nature Conservancy in Santa Cruz. Only Channel Islands Aviation (CIA for short—and that brings a lot of comments), based at Camarillo Airport, is allowed to fly out to those islands
- You can sail with your own sailboat and anchor off Cuyler Beach on San Miguel Island.
- Overnight anchorages are restricted to Cuyler Harbor and Tyler Bight. Visitors may land only on the beach at Cuyler Harbor.
- It is the responsibility of private boaters to contact the park to ensure the island is open before coming ashore. A permit (including a liability waiver) is required to visit the island. Private boaters can obtain these forms at a self-registration station at the Nidever Canyon trailhead entry on San Miguel Island.
- The water can be unpredictable, and the wind can pick up strong at night.
- Private boaters are required to contact National Park Services before their mainland departure to arrange for an escorted hike by a ranger. Provide your name, phone number, vessel name, and dates of the requested escorted hike. Park staff will then reply with available dates and instructions.
- You may hop on a charter boat by Island Packers from Ventura or Oxnard. This is the most common way to get to the island.
- Island Packers do offer day and camping trips to the island
- The cost for the Day Trip is about $115 (price as of 6/2022) and only runs in October.
- The cost for the Camping Trip is about $168 (price as of 6/2022), and it runs from June to November. The trip also depends on the weather and the roughness of the sea.
- For those camping on the island, you will be required to also make a reservation for the campground with US National Park Services.
- The boat trip runs about 3-4 hours depending on the current and wind.