Condor Express Whale Watching, based in Santa Barbara Harbor, is one of the few companies offering year-round whale watching and a whale watch guarantee. The Condor Express is an eco-friendly, 75’, quad-jet catamaran that provides a stable and comfortable ride. The Condor Express is specially designed to allow marine mammals to visit up close without endangering them with a spinning propeller.
Island Packers, a family-run business since 1968, is the official boat concessionaire to the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Four boats run daily trips to the closest islands, Anacapa and Santa Cruz, and to the outer islands, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara, from early spring to November. Depending on the time of year, trips can view migratory grey whales, humpbacks, blue whales, and fin whales.
Channel Islands Expedition
Channel Islands Expedition is owned by its guides, with a mission to provide outstanding outdoor experiences. Its philosophy is to take advantage of every moment on this planet and take care of home to pass it to future generations better than we found it. With three boats, it offers liveaboard excursions to the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary alongside kayaking and whale-watching trips.
Santa Barbara’s Sailing Center
Santa Barbara Sailing Center's Double Dolphin catamaran offers whale watching, coastal cruises, and various on-the-water events. It is also a world-class ASA sailing school, providing beginner-to-expert sailing instruction and certifications. Boat, kayak, and paddleboard rentals are available, too. Green Business Certified, The Sailing Center aims to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and exceed environmental regulatory requirements.
Santa Barbara Whale Watch
Santa Barbara Whale Watch (SBWW) specializes in guided whale watching tours, with a spacious deck area for photography and optimal viewing.
SBWW follows strict guidelines and regulations, ensuring that their tours are eco-friendly and do not interfere with the whales' natural behavior.
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
A group of fishermen, divers, and sailors founded this interactive museum embedded in the local community. The founders envisioned it as a place where the public could experience maritime culture without leaving the harbor. Through interactive learning, the museum brings to life the Santa Barbara coastal community, its strong maritime history, and plentiful wildlife. One of the museum's newest permanent exhibits is 'Whales are Superheroes', highlighting whales' powerful and positive influence on the planet.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center
Newly renovated in 2018, this museum boasts state-of-the-art interactive exhibits for all ages, paired with the Central Coast's only planetarium. Visitors learn about the region's diverse natural history inside and then head into the 17-acre woodland to explore nature in the museum's backyard. In 1986, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History opened the Sea Center. This small aquarium and marine education facility offers guests hands-on encounters with life from the Santa Barbara Channel.
The Robert J. Lagomarsono Vistor Center
This visitor center features a bookstore, a display of marine aquatic life, and exhibits featuring the unique character of each park island. Visitors can also enjoy a 25-minute movie, “A Treasure in the Sea,” shown throughout the day in the auditorium. The fully accessible visitor center is open daily and offers a variety of free public programs about the resources of the park.
Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center
Located in the Waterfront Center of Santa Barbara's working harbor, the Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center offers some of the city's best views, beaches, harbor, mountains, wharf, and nearby Channel Islands. The inside is spectacular, with illustrations and mosaics of the local biodiversity. The center's well-informed volunteer staff can provide more information about the Channel Islands and whale watching trips.