We try to make a San Miguel run every year. Our favorite spot to overnight is Cuyler Harbor, but we’ve also explored most of the other anchorages as well as kayaked many of the little bays. Mouse over the San Miguel chart near the name Cuyler Harbor and you’ll go right to our favorite spot.
You’ll find a chart that is as current as the date at the top (pretty darned current) and pictures of landmarks that you can use to wend your way to the heart of anchorage in safety.
San Miguel is “way the hell out there,” but well worth the trip … but make sure you’ve got a good handle on the weather forecasts and have a bail out plan just in case it turns nasty. Fall is the consensus best time to visit, but we had a fantastic stretch of super fine (swim trunks and T-shirts) weather in February 2011.
Cuyler is the one place that almost everyone agrees can be a challenge. Even though it is well protected from westerlies by enormous cliffs, intense winds can climb right up the back side of those cliffs and come roaring down into the harbor. We’re so goosey on the subject that we use 7:1 on all chain rode, set the anchor alarm and check on conditions every couple of hours.
It can also be absolutely gorgeous and a fabulous experience.
Be not deterred by those who refer to the area near Pt. Bennett as Shark Park. The big danger up there is the shoal water. Of course, if you decide to swim with the seals, you might find where the “Park” got its name.
Over the last couple of years, the Elephant Seal population has incresed markedly as have all the pinniped families that call San Miguel home. Certain areas of he island are closed to protect the critters. See National Park Service Info for restrictions.
NPS rules state: “Overnight anchorages are restricted to Cuyler Harbor and Tyler Bight. Visitors may land only on the beach at Cuyler Harbor. Visitors may walk the beach at Cuyler Harbor and hike up Nidever Canyon to the ranger station. To hike beyond the ranger station, visitors must be escorted by a ranger and have a permit. Call (805) 658-5711 prior to mainland departure to obtain a permit.”
Download the trail guide for further info.