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Island Packers Cruises Invites

Nature Lovers on Special Trips

By Katie MacDonald

Since 1968, Island Packer Cruises has provided Southern California locals and visitors with steadfast, enjoyable transportation between the Ventura/Oxnard Harbors and the Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary. Over the years, Island Packers has grown and so have its vessels — now larger, faster and more comfortable than ever before. On every voyage, the crew imparts exploration, education, recreation and research for those who are interested in discovering the exciting variety of the Channel Islands National Park and its surrounding waters.


Special trips for 2014 


Blue & Humpback
Whale Watching Cruise

Boats depart May through mid-September from Ventura Harbor for all-day whale- watching trips. Sightings of Humpback whales and the endangered Blue whale can be seen as they feed on swarms of krill. Concentrated feeding grounds tend to be located near the western end of the northern Channel Islands making the journey over 2-3 hours. The trip over often passes the west end of Santa Cruz Island, where one of the world’s largest sea caves, Painted Cave, is located. With weather and sea conditions permitting, guests may have an opportunity to see one of the geological wonders of the Channel Islands National Park up-close.

Time: 9:30 a.m. departure and 4:30 p.m. return
Cost: $79 per adult; $72 per seniors (55+); $59 per child (12 & under)
Dates: Selected weekdays and weekend departures

Cueva Valdez

Take advantage of the rare opportunity to visit Cueva Valdez, the beautiful cove on the west end of Santa Cruz Island. The trip will begin with a narrated cruise, approximately one-and-a-half hours, exploring the many coves, caves and arches along the rugged coast. If weather permits, attendees will get a close look at one of the worlds largest sea caves, the Painted Cave. Frequent wildlife in the area to be on the lookout for include Bald Eagles, seals, sea lions and Risso dolphins.

After arriving at the Nature Conservancy property, attendees will transfer onto a small shore boat for a trip through a sea cave that opens to the beach of Cueva Valdez.

Time: 9:00 a.m. departure and 5:30 p.m. return
Cost: $65 per adult; $60 per senior (55+); $45 per child (12 & under)
Dates: Saturday, June 21 and Sunday, October 26


Pelagic Birding Excursions

The 12-hour deep water pelagic trip will be a chance to get far offshore to see which seabirds and marine mammals are moving through the area. Island Packers will cruise south from Ventura into the outer waters near San Nicolas Island, the banks, knolls, canyons and other proactive areas for bird sightings.

Date: Sunday July 13
Time: 7 a.m. departure and 7 p.m. return
Cost:  $195 per person


Cruise far offshore in search of the rare and special birds of Southern California. Island Packers will take a small group of campers ashore on Santa Barbara Island, then circumnavigate the entire island, looking for specialty birds. The cruise will also tour the back shore of Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island. The stretch of ocean between Santa Barbara Island and Anacapa Island is typically an excellent place to search for Ashy, Black, and possibly Least Storm Petrels. Other common sightings that guests could encounter while aboard are terns, shearwaters, murrelets, jaegers and more.

Date: Thursday, August 21
Time: 8:00 a.m. departure and 5:00 p.m. return
Cost: $125 per person


Outstanding seabird leaders will be on board the two trips. It is suggested that passengers pack food for the day or they can purchase food aboard the vessel in the snack bar. Cameras, a warm coat and dressing in layers are recommended. Advance reservations are encouraged.

For schedules, directions, tickets and more information, visit www.islandpackers.com, or call (805) 642-1393. Island Packers also offers various camping trips.