Just off the coast of California, one of the lesser known U.S. national parks beckons, with dramatic sea cliffs, grassy headlands, and rocky islets that beg to be explored. The largely uninhabited Channel Islands are the perfect base for an expedition that balances wellness and adventure, where yoga poses give way to kayaking, and stretching experts await at the end of the hiking trail. Explore the islands on your choice of daily excursions—whether you choose to hike, kayak, paddleboard or simply walk a beautiful beach. Then take leave of the national park and head to Catalina Island for a behind-the-scenes look at this popular island and its colorful past.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Arrive in Los Angeles, or toss your bag in your car if you live there, and head to the Port of Los Angeles in the afternoon to be welcomed aboard. Familiarize yourself with the ship, stow your stuff, and take in the sights on the ship’s deck. We’ll embark in the early evening—where you’ll meet the team and settle in for the days ahead!
Wake up anchored off the rocky shores of Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park. Greet the day with yoga on the sundeck and then enjoy the breakfast buffet. Hop in an expedition landing craft with a naturalist to go ashore on the East Island, where the Anacapa Island Lighthouse stands high on a hilltop overlooking the sea. From its construction in 1932 until the 1960’s, the lighthouse played a critical role in keeping this shipping corridor safe, using one of the most technologically advanced beacons in the world. Set off on a mindfulness hike, take a stroll along the coast, and enjoy a stretching session. Cruise on to Santa Cruz Island, California’s largest island, with more than 600 plant species, 140 kinds of land birds, as well as large colonies of nesting seabirds and 11 land mammal species. Thanks to the island’s isolation, 60 of its species are found nowhere else in the world.
Spend the day your way: the many trails on the eastern end of the island offer opportunities for leisurely walks, birding, or working with your certified photo instructor to capture the natural beauty of Santa Cruz Island. Opt for a strenuous hike, a beach walk, or grab a kayak or a paddleboard to explore the shoreline. Head back to the ship to refresh for cocktail hour and Recap, a presentation or two, and dinner.
After breakfast onboard, set out for a day of adventure. Weather permitting, explore tide pools or go kayaking, or hike one of the many trails that wind through canyons and grasslands. Join our naturalists for a more vigorous hike to a grove of rare Torrey pines, one of only two naturally occurring groves in the world.
As the sun sinks to the horizon, ease into evening with a yoga session on deck, followed by a cocktail party as we cruise around San Miguel Island. The island is home to prolific populations of pinnipeds, including five seal species that that can be seen hauled out on the shore.
Spend the day discovering the colorful history and natural wonders of Catalina Island, one of the three Channel Islands that is not part of the national park, and the only island with a permanent population. Once a haunt of smugglers and gold diggers, the island was transformed into a resort destination by chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley, Jr. in the 1920s. Some 50 years later, the Wrigley family established the Catalina Island Conservancy, protecting nearly 90 percent of the island. Meet with a member of the Conservancy to learn about their work on the island before heading out on the trail for spectacular views of the coastline and the Catalina backcountry. With luck, we may catch a glimpse—or a photo—of the elusive fox endemic to the island. Head for the water to kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
After lunch, the ship drops anchor in Avalon Harbor, where you’ll have time to explore on your own. Ride a bike through Avalon, a town of less than 5,000, or hike up to Avalon Canyon for spectacular views and a visit to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. Here, see Ada Wrigley's original desert exotica collection as well as a collection of plants endemic to the Channel Islands. Or take a tour of an architectural gem: the art deco Catalina Casino, built by William Wrigley, Jr. in 1929. Certified scuba divers may go for a dive (at additional cost) for a chance to see bright orange Garibaldi damselfish or swim with sea lions. Return to the ship for sunset yoga on deck, a farewell dinner, and a last evening at sea.
Awaken dockside in the bustling Port of Los Angeles, one of the world’s largest ports. After a final breakfast on board, disembark and transfer to the airport or head into town, refreshed by your getaway.