Island Packers, boat concessionaire to the Channel Islands National Park, is offering whale watch gift certificates that can be purchased by phone through the holidays. A half-day whale watch or an all-day trip that lands on Anacapa or Santa Cruz island are available.
Customers can have gift certificates mailed or emailed to themselves or to the gift recipients.
During a winter whale watch, participants can view Pacific gray whales migrating through the Santa Barbara Channel from their feeding grounds in Alaska to their breeding grounds in Baja.
Pacific gray whales are normally sighted in the National Marine Sanctuary near Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands starting mid-December and extending through early April. This mammoth migration of more than 10,000 whales and 6,000 miles is a major attraction in Southern California.
Other possible sightings include humpback, fin whales, and occasionally orcas, all of whom visit the productive waters of the channel to feed on the rich resources found there. Common dolphin are seen year-round, often frolicking with the boat, and riding the bow and stern waves.
Winter whale watching runs Dec. 26 to mid-April. Rates for half-day trips are $40 for adults, $36 for seniors, $29 for children ages 3-12. Children 2 years old and younger ride free. Scheduled winter whale watching excursions from Ventura and Channel Islands Harbor depart at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
All-day trips with landings to Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands are also available year-round. Day-long trips cost $59-$82 per adult.
Camping is also available on the Channel Islands. Prices for camping range $79-$147 per adult depending on the island. Advance reservations are advisable by calling 805-642-1393 or visiting www.islandpackers.com.