The Channel Islands of California extend 160 miles from San Clemente Island in the southeast to San Miguel Island in the northwest. Consider a few “big picture” rules of thumb in planning your swim attempt:
- The Channel Islands can be swum any time of year, even mid-winter. However, the warmest and calmest swimming conditions are often seen mid-August through early November.
- The sea temperature of an Anacapa Island swim is, on average, 1-2 degrees (F) cooler than a Catalina Channel swim on the same day.
- Generally, the further northwest in the Channel Islands region you go (toward San Miguel Island), the more difficult swimming conditions you will experience – i.e., colder, windier, and choppier.
- Winds in the Channel Islands region often pick up in early afternoon, intensify into the early evening, and then lay down at night. For this reason, the SBCSA recommends starting your swim early enough that you finish before 2pm.
- Winds are predominantly from the West or Northwest. The phenomenon of winds being funneled around Point Conception and across the northern coasts of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz Islands in a narrow 6-mile wide band is known as the “windy lane.”