Whale Watching Frequently Asked Questions


Whale Watch Season is December 26 - April 30

Channel Islands Harbor provides convenient access to the exceptional fishing waters of the Northern Channel Islands. Channel Islands Sportfishing (the “Landing”) is approximately 11 miles from Anacapa Island, with the east end of Santa Cruz Island only 18 miles away. Depending on the nature of the trip, vessels operating out of the Landing are also within range of Santa Rosa, San Miguel and San Nicolas Islands. Coastal fishing, either down the coast towards Malibu or up the coast towards Santa Barbara is also available. Multi day trips may make it to the Cortez and Tanner banks if the tuna show up.

The options all depend on conditions and where the captains think the best chance is to catch fish on any given day, and to provide their passengers with the best fishing experience possible. The overnight and multi day trips typically fish the farther islands of Santa Rosa, San Miguel and San Nicolas Islands, with the shorter day trips generally targeting Anacapa or Santa Cruz Islands or coastal grounds.

Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary are a world class destination for viewing marine wildlife. During the high season, whales are typically observed along with a variety of marine wildlife, some rare and endangered.

Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary are a premier global destination for viewing aquatic wildlife. Waters around these islands have been set aside as a sanctuary, a safe haven for the diversity of species found in the region. It is not uncommon to observe several species of whales on a single outing. In addition, typical observations within Park and Sanctuary waters can include Gray Whales, Humpbacks, Fin Whales, Blue Whales, Minke Whales, Pilot Whales, Orca whales and more. Several species of dolphin, seals, sealions and a variety of aquatic fowl can be observed daily.

The primary vessel is the Ranger 85 and is 85’ overall.

Bench seating is provided outside and galley seating inside.

We suggest you bring a quality camera to capture images of your voyage. The Channel Islands offer an unsurpassed opportunity to gather images of wildlife in a unique setting. In addition, but not necessary, a set of field glasses for viewing those sights just out of range, or for those wanting a closer look.

While we do offer a full service galley onboard, you are more than welcome to bring your own food. Please, no ice chests, glass containers and alcoholic beverages.

The Park and Sanctuary offer the visitor the best opportunity anywhere to observe whales in season. We typically observe several species on the same trip. But remember, we are not in a wild animal enclosure. All wildlife within the Park and Sanctuary are free to come and go as conditions dictate. There is no guarantee you will see whales, but you will see wildlife throughout your trip in a setting that is offered nowhere else up and down our coast.

Neither is better or worse. Whales are wild animals and travel, hunt, feed, play, breed and socialize, on their own free will.

This is what sets Channel Islands Whale Watching apart from all others up and down the Pacific Coast. Every trip takes place in the pristine waters surrounding Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary. Here, wildlife abounds. The scenery is unsurpassed and the wildlife diverse.

Most trips take place in Park and Sanctuary waters. Typically we travel 10-12 miles offshore, depending upon where our best opportunity is to observe the days wildlife.

While these trips are Whale Watching in nature, your trip might encompass a brief shoreline tour of one of the local Islands. You will observe wildlife in a natural, unspoiled environment.

Whale watching trips are Non-Landing trips, which means we do not get off on the island. We do, however, on most trips observe shoreline species around one of the local Islands.

Our Gray Whale season ends April 30.

Whales are observed year round. We begin December 26 and offer Whale Watching trips through April 30. Southbound migratory period typically is December through mid February. Northbound migration late February through April. Humpbacks in the east Channel are from late March through April into May. Blue Whales from April into summer. Orcas…any time.

All of our trips are fully narrated. The captain and crew have logged many years on the waters surrounding the Islands within the Park and Sanctuary. They are true naturalists and experts at identifying wildlife in the region. They are dedicated and passionate in providing you with a quality offshore experience.

If the trip is canceled prior to departure due to weather, lack of reservations or any other unforeseen reason, we will make every possible effort to accommodate you on another date. With over 120 days to the season, this is typically never an issue. 

It’s easier to find the whales…you should see the size of their umbrellas! Wear your rain gear!

Dress in layers. The weather can vary throughout your trip. Better to have than have not.

Whale Watching trips are typically 3 hours in duration.

There is no age limit. Wildlife viewing is fun for all ages.

Absolutely! This is a family activity enjoyed by all ages. We offer a special rate for children 12 & under.

While this activity may pose a challenge, we do our best to accommodate our handicapped guests. We typically have no problem accommodating those with the least bit of mobility. Please contact us in advance if you have any questions or concerns.

Motion sickness is typically not an issue. If you are prone, take your typical remedy prior to boarding. We offer a variety of generic products for those with concerns. Please consult with your doctor.

We offer group rates for 20 or more people.

Yes. We specialize in private charters. Customize your itinerary or focus on a specific agenda. Let us help you plan a trip for your group.

We are the closest point of entry into the Park and Sanctuary. Reaching us is easy.
From the 101 Freeway, exit Victoria Avenue and head towards the beach (south). We are located at 4151 S. Victoria Avenue, Oxnard CA 93035…in the beautiful Channel Islands Harbor.

Activity usually runs in light rain and moderate weather, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. In the rare situation the seller must cancel the event prior to departure, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability), receive credit for a future event, or receive a full refund.

To book your trip, click here.