Best Island Getaway: Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara County
Leaving San Diego to go to a beach getaway might seem a bit foolish, but if you’re going to venture to shorelines outside the ones offered inside the city, you may as well go for the full monty at Channel Islands National Park.
With a topography and ecology that isn’t really reminiscent of anywhere else in the mainland United States, the five Channel Islands you can access are home to excellent hiking, surfing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, camping, and whale watching. The islands are teeming with wildlife, and a trip to any of them is not only a chance to see thousands of seals and sea lions, but to also take a trip back in time, and see what Pacific islands look like when not exposed to overdevelopment. If you really want to feel like you’re at the end of the world, endure the stomach-churning three hour ferry ride out to San Miguel Island, the westernmost and most wind-battered of all the islands.
How to get there: Drive three hours on I-5 North and US-101 North to Ventura Harbor, then hop on a ferry to one of the five islands that range between one to three hours travel time on the water.