The state of California with its beaches, forests, mountains, farmlands and deserts has some very well-known iconic landmarks from north to south. These include Hollywood, Palm Springs and Beverly Hills to name a few. With wineries, museums, theme parks and so much more, one could never get bored. However, for some children who are on the autism spectrum, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.
Parents wishing to expose their kids to a less stimulating; yet still enjoyable experience should consider taking a day trip to Oxnard.The city just north of Los Angeles is a fun place to explore with ethnic restaurants and clean beaches.Furthermore, families who love exploring the outdoors should consider taking a Channel Islands Cruise.
Last month we had the time for just such an outing, and it was with the Island Packers touring company. We took their Vanguard single-hull trip on a three-hour tour around the five islands that have made up the Channel Islands National Park since 1980 – San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara.
What You Will See
We set sail with twenty other passengers from the Oxnard Marina. The boat had a covered indoor area as well as an outside uncovered one on the top. As it was a sunny day, we chose to sit on the upper part.Our guide gave us a thorough explanation of the national park and its important role in the preservation of wildlife in this remote part of the world.
Not long after we left the harbor, we were joined by dozens of dolphins who were swimming alongside us in pods. They gave beautiful displays of jumps, pirouettes, splashes, and dives.Our fellow passengers enthusiastically snapped photos and recorded video clips of these delightful creatures enjoying their swim
The islands are made up of unique rock formations with arches and caves. As they rise out of the sea, they have an otherworldly feel. Even though “California’s Galapagos” is only a few nautical miles off the mainland coast, it has remained untouched for centuries. Therefore, one can find unique fauna and flora from what is found on the continent and anywhere else on earth.
We managed to see beautiful island birds, seals, and even sea lions. It was a real treat. For people who like ancient geography, archeology, birdwatching, hiking and being in nature, there are unique options for landing and spending nights camping, but our tour was a non-landing one. The sights were beautiful, and the tour was educational. We learned so much as we sailed past the lighthouse on Anacapa Island on our return journey after circling the islands.
Location, Hours, and Admission
The Island Packers touring company is based at 1691 Spinnaker Dr. Ventura, CA. One can find Channel Islands National Park itself at 1901 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001.
While one can access the guest services centers on the mainland by car, visitors can only access the islands via park concessionaire boats, planes, or a private boat.
One can access the park between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. Parts of the islands can close due to weather conditions.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Since these tours book fast, parents need to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
- Parents of kids with autism need to stay in communication with the cruise line if any unfavorable weather might cause a delay or cancellation of the tour.
- The cruise line recommends bringing jackets as sometimes the wind comes up over the water and it can get chilly.
- It is critical to listen to the safety announcements given at the start of the tour. The rules are there for the protection of the passengers as well as the preservation of the wildlife.
- Parents should ensure children are seated and that they hold on tightly to the railings as the waves can cause a rough ride.
- Those who suspect their child will need something to eat or drink during the three-hour journey should bring snacks. Crackers or small sandwiches are the best options. Under no circumstances should one throw food overboard.
- Those with children who suffer from motion sickness should make sure everyone takes medication beforehand.
- Bicycles are banned on the islands.