Destination California: The Channel Islands

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5 Days
Los Angeles, California


Explore the rocky coasts of the rarely visited Channel Islands National Park by expedition landing craft, kayak and stand-up paddleboard, gliding into sea caves and alongside cliffs speckled with seabirds.
Delve into the curious history of Santa Catalina Island, and tour the island’s natural wonders with a member of the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Take in exhilarating panoramas on hikes with naturalists, and focus on fitness and mindfulness with instructors from the wellness group exhale® through yoga, stretching, and fitness classes.
Search for wildlife including a variety of seals, some 380 birds species, and the endemic Santa Cruz Island fox; and work on your wildlife and landscape photography alongside our certified photography instructor.


Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts – from naturalists to regional specialists – who will share their knowledge and insights the wildlife, landscape and local culture. Select a member of the expedition team below to see their bio and dates.


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.


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!

Meals Included:Dinner


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 led by our exhale® instructors. 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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, 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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


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.

Meals Included:Breakfast


Traveling aboard the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, you’ll enjoy the daily thrill of discovery without sacrificing comfort. Each of our ships provides an inviting home base with superior amenities, personalized service, and a vibrant yet casual onboard atmosphere. Step aboard and you’ll find comfortable cabins, a well-stocked library, and dining rooms serving regionally inspired cuisine with fresh, local ingredients. Expansive decks provide an exceptional vantage point for spotting and photographing wildlife.

Ship Overview

Accommodating just 62 guests in 31 outside cabins, the National Geographic Sea Lion is large enough to operate in remote environments in comfort, yet small enough to enter ports and inlets inaccessible to bigger ships. The ship carries sea kayaks and a fleet of expedition landing crafts, providing easy access to coastlines and other places of interest. All cabins have windows and are attractively and comfortably furnished with lower berths, private bathrooms, reading lights, and individual climate control. The Sea Lion is authorized to operate in the Tongass National Forest under a Forest Service Special Use Permit.


The expedition experience can be tailored to the activity level you choose, whether it’s light or moderate or a little of both. Travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time, and able to get in and out of expedition landing craft. Daily activities may include Zodiac cruises, easy hikes, walking tours, and visits to cultural or historic sites, with options each day for more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, or biking.


Sep 28-Oct 2, 2019
PRICES $2,620 Per Person
SHIP National Geographic Sea Lion

Oct 2-6, 2019
PRICES $2,620 Per Person
SHIP National Geographic Sea Bird

Nov 23-27, 2019
PRICES $3,010 Per Person
SHIP National Geographic Quest

Nov 27-Dec 1, 2019
PRICES $3,010 Per Person
SHIP National Geographic Quest

Dec 3-7, 2019
PRICES $3,010 Per Person
SHIP National Geographic Venture

All trip prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to change without notice and do not include airfare. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars.


Transfers upon arrival/departure for guests booked on recommended group flights
Accommodation aboard the world-class expedition ships of the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet or a luxury chartered ship
Meals as indicated in the itinerary
Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary


Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
Alcoholic beverages