Santa Cruz Island

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Santa Cruz Island is the largest and most diverse of the eight Channel Islands and has a long and varied history that is closely linked to its landscape. Its coastal scrub vegetation, vast grasslands, oak woodlands, and rich coastline sustained the sea-going Chumash people for about 9,000 years. During the nineteenth century, hunters and fishermen exploited the marine life, and mariners found shelter in its coves. Later the island was home to immigrant ranchers, and, in later years, the military took advantage of the island’s strategic location. With such a rich and varied history, visitors are sure to find plenty to explore in addition to the island's stunning natural beauty.

To learn more about Santa Cruz Island, visit the park's website.


Mountain biking is not allowed on Santa Cruz Island.

Visiting Tips

Santa Cruz Island is only accessible via boat. Island Packers offers trips year round. Travel time is one-hour, landing at either Scorpion Anchorage or Prisoners Harbor. Landing is via a pier at both locations. For more information on transportation options, click here.

Camping and Lodging

Primitive camping is available at the Scorpion Ranch Campground. There are 31 sites available for $15 per night per site, and reservations are required. Water, picnic tables, food storage boxes, and pit toilets are provided.

Food and Drink

There are no goods, services, or accommodations available on the island. Visitors must bring all their own food and supplies. Water is available at Scorpion Anchorage but not at Prisoners Harbor.

Other Activities

The mixed sand and cobblestone Scorpion Beach is a world-class destination for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. With easy beach access, clear ocean waters, nearby camping, amazing kelp forests, and a spectacular shoreline with sea caves to explore, this is a great option for those looking to enjoy the area. No fishing is allowed within the marine reserves located around the island. Fishing is allowed outside of these areas with a valid California state fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp.
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