Book Your Trip With a Reputable Company
If you’re going whale watching, you don’t have to look any further than the Channel Islands Harbor.
Islands Packers Whale Watching tours depart for a 3 to 3 ½ hour cruise along the Santa Barbara Channel. If you increase your trip from a half day to a full day, you can enjoy a landing on the Channel Islands at Anacapa Island or Santa Cruz Island.
Channel Islands Whale Watching offers breathtaking excursions through the waters surrounding Channel Islands National Park and the National Marine Sanctuary. Hop aboard Ranger 85 with Captain Frank, who began his career at sea in 1976 and has been offering eco tours since 1990. Captain Frank offers AM and PM cruises.
Check The Weather and The Marine Forecast
If you’re not sure about rough seas or whether or not you’ll get motion sickness, you’ll probably want to go whale watching on the calmest day possible. Check not only the weather forecast, but the marine forecast. If the forecast is for high winds and seas, it’s likely you’ll have a rocky trip.
Check The Sightings
Whales are wild animals, so sightings can never really be guaranteed. You will want to check on recent sightings by visiting the Islands Packers Whale Watching and Channel Islands Whale Watching websites. Even if you don’t see whales, there’s a great chance you will also encounter a wide variety of marine life including dolphins, seals, sea lions, and a rich variety of bird life; some of which are endangered and protected.
Pack For A Day At Sea
Here’s a list of essentials:
Bring a smartphone or camera to record your experience or capture a cool pic. Make sure your phone is charged or bring plenty of batteries and a clear memory card in case the sightings are spectacular. Keep in mind that the average point-and-shoot camera might not deliver the speed and magnification needed to get the best pictures. If you have a 35mm camera, a 200-300mm lens provides the most zoom and stability for whale watching. Remember to get fun shots of you and/or your family and use #channelislandsharbor when posting on social media.
Binoculars are a must! With binoculars you might be able to catch all those easy to miss details.
Dress in layers, wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes, and bring a rain jacket if there’s even the slightest chance of rain. Wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat! Remember that it can be a bit cooler on the ocean.
Get There On Time
Follow the company’s guidelines as to when to arrive for boarding the boat. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time to stand in line for tickets and get on board. Whale watching should be a fun, relaxing experience, and rushing around at the beginning makes for a hectic start.
Our floats are boats!
Your children and family will be in awe as fantastic festive boats light up the night as the procession winds through the Harbor. This year’s theme is Fairy Tales Afloat. With sugar plum fairies, mermaids, princesses, dragons, and more, you’ll be sure to find a favorite to cheer on.
Free pics with Santa and 36 tons of snow
Festivities at the Harbor begin at noon near Marine Emporium Landing. Take your family and enjoy a variety of food options, a holiday artists’ market, live music, and children’s activities. There will be more than 36 tons of snow moved in for your family to play in. Plus, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be there to take pictures, free of charge, with your children.
Treat your family
Relish the opportunity to dine and shop in your favorite establishments in the Harbor prior to the parade. From pizza to fine dining, there’s a lot to choose from. Plus, if you can’t make it out to the parade in time while dining, there’s a great chance you can see the parade from the restaurant of your choice!
Santa and his reindeer make an appearance
Santa and his reindeer mark the beginning for the parade by flying over the Harbor in a helicopter. How cool is that?
Where to watch?
The parade starts in front of Peninsula Park and heads to the Main Channel, turns at Hobie Beach, loops in front of the launch ramp, then heads back to Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club and repeats the route for a second run. The parade can be viewed from parks and walkways that line the route as well as from most Harbor restaurants. Boat charters are available for those who want to watch the parade from the water.
How to Attend:
What: 52nd Annual Parade of Lights
When: Noon to 8 p.m. (Parade starts at 7 p.m.)