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“Family Trip to Channel Islands”
Review of Island Packers

Island Packers
Ranked #2 of 14 Tours in Ventura
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Family Trip to Channel Islands”
Reviewed February 16, 2013

If you are in the area, do not miss a trip to the Channel Islands! Island Packers holds the market on this trip, but rather than take advantage of being the only game in town, they rise to the occasion making it a great experience. They are prompt and organized and well informed. The Captain did a great job guiding the trip across the bay pointing out dolphin, sea lions and whales. They even put forth the extra effort to return to the pier to pick up some late hikers from the island, saving them from a night of unintentional camping!

Visited February 2013
Thank elaineblee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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353 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Ventura County, USA
Level Contributor
200 reviews
80 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“Get there early if you want to sit.”
Reviewed February 1, 2013

Just returned from a trip aboard the Ranger 85 to see whales. There are not enough seats for everyone who buys a ticket so I suggest you arrive at least 45 minutes early and get in line once you have checked in unless you want to stand the entire time. The seats in back are a little noisy being nearest to the engines. The captain found whales (a mother and baby, both grays) and kept them off the bow the entire time so that the only place to get a good view was up front. He did a great job of keeping up with the whales so we got lots of close ups. Because the whales were so entertaining, he stayed out an extra 45 minutes so we really got our money's worth. There are giving away 1/2 off coupons when you leave the trip, which is a good deal. We got our tickets from Groupon.

Visited February 2013
2 Thank City_Girls_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
west hills, ca
Level Contributor
525 reviews
189 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 314 helpful votes
“Great time”
Reviewed January 23, 2013 via mobile

Cold and cloudy but very successful whale watching trip. Full boat saw lots of seals dolphins and whales.

Thank jfd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
131 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“Worth the cost - just do this”
Reviewed October 7, 2012

On the very worst day you will only see hundreds of dolphins! On the best days you will see a variety of whales, otter, thousands of dolphins and even orcas. The narrators are funny and knowledgeable. Go in the morning when the winds are calmer.

Visited September 2012
3 Thank KatiePatrykus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Temecula, California
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Fantastic Field Trip”
Reviewed September 30, 2012

My daughter is studying California History this year, so we wanted to take a field trip to the Channel Islands in order to experience first-hand the environment of the island (she's been reading "Island of the Blue Dolphins"). While the island in that story-- San Nicolas-- cannot be visited, as it has been a military station for many years, we found Island Packers could take us on a day trip to Santa Cruz island, which is part of Channel Islands National Park.

So, we booked a trip on their website about four days before we went on the trip. The booking process was straightforward, and we received an e-mail confirmation right away. One thing to watch for during booking is to make sure you plan your return trip properly; once you are on the island, you can't change your reservation easily as there are no phones there, and mobile phones don't reach the mainland.

On the day of the trip, we called Island Packers before we went to the harbor in order to make sure they were still running the trip. They were, so we drove to Ventura Harbor. The Island Packers building was easy to find, and there was plenty of parking in the adjacent lot. The building where we checked in has a small gift shop with t-shirts, books, hats, toys, etc. Staff was helpful.

Our trip over to Santa Cruz was on a modern catamaran boat, which felt very stable in the water, although the waves in the channel made for a ride that my daughter likened to a "roller coaster that doesn't stop." She enjoyed looking over the bow and watching for sea animals. After about an hour, we arrived at the cove near Scorpion Ranch. The dock at the island is not a floating dock, so we had to climb a ladder to disembark. The boat crew was willing to assist anyone who needed it.

We had a great time on the island. We saw a kelp forest at the cove, a rocky beach, the old ranch buildings (which are now a visitor center), we took a nature walk, and we even saw the rare island foxes up close. All in all, we spent about three hours there: exploring, taking photos and making notes. We had a short time to play in the water at the cove before it was time to leave.

On the way back, our captain found an enormous pod of common dolphin; there must have been several hundred of them. He stopped long enough for us to watch them for a while, which my daughter absolutely loved.

This field trip earned an A+ from us. Island Packers made it an almost effortless experience from start to finish.

If you go, be aware that the breeze in the channel can be quite chilly, even on a warm day. Bring a windbreaker or some other lightweight, but warm, coat. If you happen to forget one, they sell warm pullovers in the gift shop.

Visited August 2012
6 Thank Jim T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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