Things to do in
Channel Islands of California

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Top sights in Channel Islands of California

Our activities follow local health guidelines so you can focus on enjoying your experience.

Our most recommended things to do in Channel Islands of California

Santa Catalina Island: Nautilus Semi-Submarine Cruise

1. Santa Catalina Island: Nautilus Semi-Submarine Cruise

Join the captain and crew and set off on a 45-minute exploratory mission through Lover's Cove, a State Marine Conservation Area sanctuary. Traverse amazing undersea gardens and ocean habitats in a semi-submersible vessel designed after America's first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, on a trip that is both educational and entertaining. Let your imagination descend into the depths of the ocean as you explore the magic and wonder of undersea life on the Nautilus. Venture into the ocean and through the kelp forest in a state-of-the-art vessel. Learn about what you see with the crew and research team, and let them entertain you with their stories. As you learn and explore, interact with the fish through a specially designed feeding system. Launch fish food torpedoes right from your seat (at an additional cost) and instigate feeding frenzies right outside your personal porthole.

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Santa Catalina Island: 2.5-Hour Safari Island Adventure

2. Santa Catalina Island: 2.5-Hour Safari Island Adventure

Climb into an open-air safari vehicle for a 2.5-hour guided eco-expedition around Santa Catalina Island. Journey up the tree-lined old stagecoach road from sea level to an elevation of 1604 feet (489 meters) and admire the picturesque scenery. Visit outback areas and coastal canyons of the Catalina Island Conservancy, home to wild animals like bison, Channel Island foxes, and bald eagles. Pass through rugged terrain, and venture through Gallagher's Cove and Toyon Bay, as well as coastline areas such as Goat Harbor, White's Landing, and Rippers Cove. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as they roam free in the area, making every sighting extra special, and enjoy 360 degree panoramic views on clear days. Make sure to take your camera with you and have it ready at hand.

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Santa Barbara: Wine Country Tour

3. Santa Barbara: Wine Country Tour

After pickup from your hotel or another prearranged meeting point in the morning, depart by climate-controlled van to the Santa Ynez Valley. Get a preview of the day from your guide as you set off for your first winery, learning about the history of this famed wine region along the way. Discover unique vintages and blends at each establishment, and some wineries extend discounts on wine purchases. On arrival, the winery staff will take your group for a wine tasting to learn more about each winery. Enjoy a picnic style lunch in the shade at a favorite winery with cold beverages also provided. Groups often enjoy a barrel room tour and explore the small towns of Los Olivos or Solvang. The tour includes tastings at 3 unique and hand-picked wineries, before driving back to Santa Barbara with drop-off at your hotel included. Group rates are available.

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Santa Barbara: Guided Kayak Tour

4. Santa Barbara: Guided Kayak Tour

Guests meet their guides at the boat launch at Santa Barbara Harbor, where they outfit everyone in paddle jackets and PFDs. Guides will give a basic paddling demonstration and safety talk before setting out on the water. The launch is easy, right out of the boat launch. This is a great introductory lesson to kayaking or a nice relaxing kayak for more experienced paddlers. Once on the water, guests will paddle approximately 1-2 miles along the coast surrounded by beautiful beaches and marine life. The group will paddle through the harbor, paddling past boats, through the historic wharf, under the pier, out to buoys, and along the beach. There is an abundance of wildlife along the way such as harbor seals, sea lions, brown pelicans, sea stars, cormorants, and of course seagulls. Guides will offer insight into the history of the region as well as local marine ecology. People love this paddle because of the relaxed pace and incredible marine life as well as taking in the views of the town from the water.

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Santa Barbara: Cupcake and Wine Tour

5. Santa Barbara: Cupcake and Wine Tour

After being picked up from your Santa Barbara or Santa Ynez Valley accommodation in the morning, board a climate-controlled vehicle for the Santa Ynez Valley. Get a preview of the day from your guide, who will cover the local human history and give you insight into the wine region along the way. On arrival, enjoy a wine tasting at some of the area's top wineries, including a venue where your wine is paired with delectable cupcake tastings. The full-day tour features a sampling flight of cupcakes from Enjoy Cupcakes, a unique bakery in Los Olivos. Compare flavors like pomegranate-mango chardonnay and chocolate-blackberry syrah. After you're served a picnic lunch in the shade at a favorite winery, gain insight into specific blends and selections from the winery staff. Each establishment offers vintages and award-winning selections, and several wineries extend discounts on wine purchases. Conclude the day with a return ride to Santa Barbara and drop-off at your hotel.

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From Los Angeles: Driving Tour Between L.A. & Santa Maria

6. From Los Angeles: Driving Tour Between L.A. & Santa Maria

Explore the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between L.A. and Santa Monica on a self-guided driving tour. Start anywhere along the route and enjoy a scenic drive along the California coast. Let your audio guide transform your scenic drive into a sight-seeing, fact-finding, trivia-answering, family-friendly adventure. Pass through and learn about some of the cities and small towns nestled along the coast. See the famous Marina Del Rey, catch glimpse of the Channel Islands, and pass by the Vandenberg Space Force Base. Find out about parks, historical sites, tourist attractions, recreation areas, and more from your audioguide. Explore Tuna Canyon and Topanga State Park, Nicholas Canyon Beach, and the Chumash village of Wishtoyo. Admire Boney Peak at the Point Mugu State Park and look for the endangered California Condors in Ventura County. Check out other sights along the way, including the Getty Villa Museum, Port Hueneme, Santa Ynez Mountains and Painted Caves Historical Park, Goleta, and Nojoqui Falls.

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Santa Barbara Surfing Lesson

7. Santa Barbara Surfing Lesson

Learn to surf the waves of Santa Barbara's beautiful beaches! These surf sessions give you a foundation in this exciting water sport. Meet your instructor at Mondo's Beach, south of Santa Barbara, and learn about the finer points of catching waves during a beach lesson and while in the water. The instructor will begin with a beach lesson reviewing: how to position yourself on the board, paddling techniques and proper stance. Once in the water students will get pointers on maneuvering waves, balance techniques and surf etiquette. Most of the guests "get up" within the first hour in the water! For the half-day option, pack your own lunch and enjoy a lunch break. Relax on the sand and enjoy drinks and food while recharging. A cooler will be provided for you to keep your lunches cool during the session. The seasoned instructors have years of experience in guiding lessons and can adapt their instruction to virtually any skill level. Santa Barbara offers ideal beginner's breaks and provides the perfect opportunity to get a foundation for this incredible sport. Surf sites are selected based on the current swell and tide conditions, and your instructor finds the best breaks for successful learning. Be sure to take in the gorgeous scenery with a view of the Santa Ynez mountain range.

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Santa Barbara: Haskell's Beach Kayaking Trip

8. Santa Barbara: Haskell's Beach Kayaking Trip

Meet your guide at Haskell's Beach just north of Santa Barbara, one of the area's most beautiful beaches featuring a palm-lined coast and crystalline waters. Your guide will outfit the members of your group with kayaking gear and will take you through a kayaking lesson on shore, including instruction on entering and exiting the surf. When you are on the water and feeling comfortable with your paddling skills, you will set off on a stunning 4.8 km journey. You will stop amid pristine kelp beds to learn about marine ecology and the Santa Barbara Channel. Keep an eye out for dolphins that often swim and play alongside the kayaks. At midday, you will stop for a delicious lunch served on a secluded beach. After an optional swim, venture back to shore and on the way take part in some fun kayak challenges and games. This is an unforgettable trip and the perfect half-day activity.

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What people are saying about Channel Islands of California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 28 reviews

We loved the entire idea of the tour. Caco was very knowledgeable and personable, and he knew a lot of the history of the region.. The Folded Hills Winery was amazing and worth the tour. Allison was an amazing server and let us lick fruit off of the trees on the property. She gave us some of the history of the wines and winery, and lived up to the ideals of the winery: being in the business of making friends. Koehler Winery was unremarkable; the wines all tasted the same and we didn’t feel like it was an experience. We didn’t even get all of our tastings because the wines weren’t very distinguishable. Saarloos & Sons was cool because of the cupcake and wine pairing. All of the cupcakes were delicious, but the chocolate peanut butter was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. They’re in a great location and the server was amazing in giving excellent service to our group. The van was nice and comfortable, we were provided water, and Caco let us play our music over the Bluetooth.

Such a unique experience. My husband and I travel often and have never done anything like this! They take you to three different spots and you can see the kelp and different fish. Although you do see the same fish and kelp at each spot, it was still pretty awesome to see the fish up that close. I don't foresee myself ever snorkeling or scuba diving, so it was amazing to see the oceanlife. The guide was informative but he was not required to wear a mask, so him coming up to talk to us was a bit unsettling. Also, if you order mobile tickets you are still required to checkin and get your tickets printed. Overall excellent experience and highly recommend if visiting Catalina island!

A very personable and competent guide and driver. I belong to the All-American chickens' club, and cannot imagine driving that route myself. But it was a great trip and we saw four bison -- very exciting! Hope to try other activities with your organization next time we come.

Great, the best wine tour I have been on, my wife and I were celebrating our three-year anniversary and this was a perfect activity for our celebration.

Super organized, safe and fun!!! Beth was a great guide and we look forward to coming back for another kayaking tour!