Remote Santa Barbara Island is the loneliest island in Channel Islands National Park. Located far to the south, it’s a tiny, isolated bit of land poking from the wraparound blue. Yet it touts a respectable 5.5 miles/8.8 km of hiking trails that travel through its gently rolling grasslands. The most popular is the 3.3-mile/5.3-km Signal Peak Trail, which loops over the island’s south half and visits the summit of Signal Peak, the highest point on the island at 634 feet/193 meters. Since this island is so tiny, the peak’s view is dramatic—a full 360 degrees of blue Pacific as far as the eye can see. The path also offers fine views of Sutil Island, an even smaller island just offshore to the southwest. Both Santa Barbara and Sutil Island provide nesting habitat for Scripps’s murrelets, a rare seabird.
Much like Anacapa Island, Santa Barbara Island is grass-covered and treeless. Be sure to bring a sun hat and lots of water with you. Getting to Santa Barbara Island requires a 2½ - or 3-hour boat ride, and Island Packers runs only about a dozen trips each year (April to October). If you come here, you’re part of a very select club.