Planning a Trip to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island

Headed out to Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park? 

Check out Prisoners Harbor! Prisoner’s Harbor is more secluded in comparison to Scorpion Anchorage offering a completely different experience for Channel Islands National Park guests.

Giant Coreopsis flowers bloom along the coastline near Prisoners Harbor in the spring.

Prisoners Harbor is located midway along the North shore of Santa Cruz Island. It is on the border of the Channel Islands National Park and The Nature Conservancy property. 

Channel Islands Adventure Company is excited to announce the new tours being offered at Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. This location has stunning views of both the island and marine environment. Learn about the local history of the island while kayaking with a friendly guide and have a wonderful opportunity to see wildlife such as Garibaldi fish, brown pelicans, seals, sea lions, and even a bald eagle! 

To get to Prisoners Harbor, take the Island Packers Ferry. The ferry takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to cross the channel. Ferries generally leave daily @ 9am from Ventura, CA. Ventura, CA is only 1.5 hours from Los Angeles, CA and 30 minutes from Santa Barbara, CA. Your adventure begins on the Island Packers ferry where hopefully you’ll spot a pod of dolphins during your journey or even whales. 

Be sure to pack food and water for your time on the island. Keep all belongings protected from small animals and birds by packing them in a backpack or small cooler. There are no options for food or water to purchase once on the island. Come prepared to pack out all your trash. #leavenotrace 

Kayaking through a sea arch west of Prisoners Harbor, Santa Cruz Island.

Weather conditions can change rapidly, it is best to bring layers and a jacket regardless of the time of year.

As a reminder, as of November 1st, the Scorpion Anchorage Pier was closed for repairs prohibiting guests to visit the Scorpion Anchorage area except for from December 21st to January 5th during the holidays. 

Our other favorite activities at Prisoner’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island are hiking the Pelican Trail with a trained naturalist from Island Packers or enjoying the wildlife both on the island and in the water (don’t forget to bring a camera!). If you’re interested in doing it all at Prisoner’s Harbor you can camp at Del Norte campground which is a 2-3 mile hike from Prisoner’s Harbor. Reservations can be made online at


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