Your Guide to the Channel Islands National Park

photo of a person snorkeling the Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park – General Summary

The Channel Islands National Park is picturesque, pristine, and wildly beautiful collection of islands that were once referred to as Ancient String of Pearls. Located off the coast of California, the national park is a collection of five different islands closely dispersed on the Pacific Ocean. Discovered by Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo along with his Spanish fleet in 1542, the islands were brimming with beautiful foliage, graceful mountain peaks, and marine ecosystems.


Date of Establishment

Before the Channel Islands Archipelago was officially declared as a national heritage site, it was home to the Chumash community. They were natives who inhabited the islands for many years until the European Contact in the 18th Century. The islands were then transformed economically and physically for seal and otter hunting, fishing, and the establishment of European Industries.

All the five national islands were affected by the Second World War, Cold War, and 20th century development. It was finally on the 26th April, 1938 after a series of significant events, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Santa Barbara and Anacapa Islands as part of the Channel Islands Archipelago. The present national park, which comprises five national islands was officially created in 1980.


Popular Season

The national park can be visited all year-round and during any season. However, since it’s essentially a trove of islands, the best time to enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, and snorkeling is usually during Summer and Fall. The ocean temperatures are optimum at 70 degrees and the ocean visibility is as deep as 100 ft. Many people therefore visit the park from early June all the way into September.

The extreme winter and early spring months are typically less frequented by visitors. The islands are beset by high tides, winds, and heavy downpour. However, tourists who love the extreme coastal weather won’t mind it at all. Each season offers a unique experience. For example, visiting in late December all the way to April, is a good time to enjoy gray whale watching. Peak wildflower blooms can also be witnessed after blissful rain showers from January to March. All in all, depending on your preference, anytime is a good time to visit the Channel Islands National Park.


Visitor Center

Like every park in the US, the Channel Islands has an insightful and informational Visitor Centers that are usually a first stop for most tourists and travelers. The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Ventura features a fun bookstore, a tour of the marine aquatic life, and exhibits that display the unique features of each of the five islands. There is also Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center offering the best view of the island, short informational sessions on the national park, and the lovely Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. With so much to see, admire, and be mesmerized by, let’s explore the Channel Islands National Park.


Introduction

The Channel Islands National Park is one of the 61 American national parks being operated under the National Park Service. It comprises five of the eight Channel Islands that are located off the coast of California, USA. As part of the greater Pacific Ocean, these islands have remained relatively isolated. This is one reason why they’re not as densely populated and developed as other national parks in the USA. However, the relatively fewer traces of human footprint have only added to their natural, pure, and untouched beauty. These five islands are as follows:

  • Anacapa Island
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Santa Rosa Island
  • San Miguel Island
  • Santa Barbara Island

Each lusciously beautiful and verdant island is engulfed by the calming Blue Ocean. They are famous attractions for tourists and travelers who want to explore the breathtaking but rare corners of the world. If you live in California, you’re lucky because the islands serve as a wonderful weekend retreat. But, coming from anywhere else around the world will be just as adventurous and exciting a journey.

Every single island is a fascinating world in itself. They have humbly preserved the remaining natural traces of what California once looked like. It can be a little challenging to cover all the attractions as the park encompasses five large islands. However, even if your visit lasts a week, the picturesque beauty will put your heart at peace. Let’s have a look at each of these islands in detail.

Anacapa Island is a rather small volcanic landscape located 11 miles from the coast of Port Hueneme in California. The island comprises three different islets that are each 10 km long and hold enrapturing beauty. These are known as the East, Middle, and West Anacapa. Collectively, they are called the Anacapas. Each islet consists of rare, verdant foliage and precipitous cliffs that gracefully drop off into the sea. Anacapa is actually the smallest from all the Channel Islands archipelago.

Santa Cruz Island is quite safely the largest island in the Channel Islands and all of California. Located off the southwestern coast, Santa Cruz is 35km long and runs as wide as 6 miles. With an official population of somewhere around 2000, this island is originally administered under the Santa Barbara County, California. Covering huge acres, the island is a one-stop tourist spot for families and solotravelers. Here you will find mysteriously beautiful sea caves, steep cliffs, and crystal sandy beaches that are going to renew your love for the ocean.

A flourishing valley divides the island along the Santa Cruz Island Fault. The northern side is famous for its volcanic rocks, while older sedimentary rocks can be found in the south. This volcanic rock was once heavily fractured, which results in the creation of over a hundred sea caves into the resulting faults. Home to the largest sea cave, which is called the Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island is famous for rare endemic species of plants and animals, especially the sneaky but stunning Santa Cruz Island Fox.The island is also known for being home to the highest point called the Devils Peak that stands at an astonishing height of 2,450 ft. Second largest on the listis the Santa Rosa Island. It covers up to 53,195 acres of land. From Santa Barbara coast, it is only 26 miles. The island is known for being inhabited by the Chumash, who were a group of Native Americans during the time of the European contact. The island is historically rich as the century-old human remains in the Americas, known as the Arlington Springs Man, was discovered here. The island has a very intriguing and diverse terrain. The place offers so much more than what meets the eyes— a blue coastal lagoon, deep, adventurous canyons, and a series of rolling hills. The island is home to a rare species of pine trees, which is known as the Torrey Pine. They can be found in two locations of the world. Boasting one of the highest peaks in the region, Santa Rosa is known for the Vail Peak that stands at 1,589 ft. Tourists enjoy numerous activities here including kayaking, hiking, and camping. Here, overnight camping reservations can be made via the Channel Islands National Park office.

San Miguel Island is what heaven would look like on earth. With wind and weather visiting the North Pacific, San Miguel might be known for its extreme climate, but that only adds to the adventure hidden in its natural beauty. The island covers an area of 9,500 acres. Although it’s mainly a plateau that rises to a 500 ft elevation, the island is also home to rounded hills that gracefully emerge from its windswept, picturesque landscape. The lush and verdant vegetation that we see on the landscape today is actually a fraction of what the island was once covered by. Sadly, the greenery succumbed to years of overgrazing and sheep ranching, leaving behind what scientists refer to as a “barren lump of sand”. Here you will find buckwheat, coastal sagebrush, dudleya, locoweed, and giant coreopsis that are one of the finest and ethereal plants to study.

The last and the fifth island is called the Santa Barbara Island, a small landscape of the Channel Islands archipelago in the heart of Southern California. Located 61 km from the landform of Palos Verdes Peninsula, the island covers a total area of 640 acres, making it the smallest of all the eight Channel Islands. Known for its highest peak, Signal Hill that rises as tall asto a height of 634 ft. tThe Santa Barbara Island is a heavenly wonder on earth. The perfect spot for a romantic getaway or a family retreat, this island is part of the Santa Barbara County. It has an insightful and precious marine ecosystem that is maintained under the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Like most of the islands in the scene, this one can be viewed right from the mainland during winters when the sky is exceptionally clear. At Santa Barbara Island, there are a number of tourist activities to indulge in. From hiking and camping to enjoying water sports, fishing, and wildlife viewing, the joy this place offers is endless and unforgettable.

All the five islands under the Channel Island Archipelago are beautiful, unique, and artistic in their own way. Whether you wish to explore the stunning sea caves at Santa Cruz Island, climb the highest peak of Santa Barbara Island, or enjoy the enrapturing wildlife at Anacapa Island, there is so much this place offers. The main route to reach to four of the five islands is by boat. Enjoy the pristine, clear waters as they take you to your designated island. The boat ride to Santa Rosa Island might be longer and more challenging; however, you can always take a flight out of Camarillo Airport. The journey and the destination are both unforgettable, beautiful, and out-of-this-world. It probably won’t matter whether you reach by water or sky, visiting the Channel Iislands National Park is a trip of a life-time. Let’s explore the intriguing history behind these beautifully preserved sites.


A Brief History

Like other parks in the US, the Channel Islands National Parks had to go through a series of signatures and declarations to acquire public access. With separate islands dispersed across the ocean, the fight in this case was harder. Surfacing over the horizon from the mysterious depths of the Pacific Ocean, the gorgeous peaks and coastal mountains of Channel islandsIslands are a heavenly giveaway. They offer a natural getaway to an ancient past that dates back 12,000 years intoin human history. Considering how most of the islands are sparsely populated, isolated, or largely uninhabited, the raw, untouched natural beauty is what draws most tourists and travelers from around the world.

They can witness what coastal areas and mountains looked like before modern civilizations began exploiting the landscape in the name of “development”. Anyone who wants to see the purity of culture, free wildlife, and pristine natural wonders is going to fall in love with the Channel Islands National Park.

The islands have attracted many scientists, explorers, and historians during the past few centuries. Today, whether you’re a solo traveler, adventuring with your plus one, or going as a family, the Channel islands welcomes you to walk in the shoes where theof century-old European explorers who once landed here, witness the horrific off-shore shipwrecks that truly add to the history of this place, and of course, discover old and new tales of California’s intriguing ranching history.

We’ve already discussed how the northern Channel Islands were home to Chumash communities, who were the native inhabitants of the area. They are one of the oldest traces of human establishments on the islands, and also the most widely studied. The Europeans first arrived during the 16th cCentury, where they discovered a vibrant culture of people heavily dependent on the natural resources. The sea beingsea was their main avenue of sustenance and survival and, these people decided to inhabit the islands soon after. They slowly began settling in the Islands, and it was finally in the 19th century, when the Europeans had officially established their industrial presence. The islands that once served natural resources for the native Chumash communities was were now being used for completely different reasons.

There were spacious cattle and sheep ranches that covered the islands of San Miguel, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa. Considering how the island was a marine sanctuary, the European civilization also used the coastal areas and marine mammals for fishing and livelihood. Each island has a fascinating heritage and historic legend tied to it that is mesmerizingly unforgettable.

The traces of ancient Chumaish villages have been deeply intermingled with military structures that were later developed in the region and historic ranch complexes, which testify to the rich, diverse, and incredibly beautiful first human experiences in the region. For history lovers, the islands are sure a treat!


The Ancient String of Pearls

A string of pearls might be reminiscent of the mysteriously beautiful Titanic. The ship sunk, taking thousands of lives with it under the sea. Nothing could be more tragic yet intriguing then that, right? Well, you might want to rethink. Instead of an actual necklace, the Channel islands themselves are known as the Ancient String of Pearls stretching across the Pacific Ocean.

Hidden deep in the cerulean waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, a Spanish named Juan Rodriquez and his fleet found a beautiful island chain. The fleet had first landed at the San Miguel Iisland in 1542. Since , the Chumash communities had inhabited the northern islands for a long time, Cabrillo’s fleet sought to explore the offshore areas as well as the California mainland. It was this excursion that produced the first account of the ancient Chumash culture, eventually securing the islands for the Spanish Throne. However, over the centuries, as more and more civilizations came by, the area encountered a number of economic transformations. Soon enough, the inhabitants began indulging in fishing, seal hunting, kelp production, and shellfish harvesting. By this time around, the Chumash began emptying the islands and moved towards the mainland.

By the 20th cCentury, after the Mexican Independence from Spain, the state of California witnessed a major liking for livestock ranching. All of the five national parks fully advocated sheep grazing with Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Island with the largest cattle operations in the region. The islands were also affected by the WWII and the Cold War events. One can find numerous shipwrecks that are a testament to historic events, where busy mariners tried to travel across the narrow channels. There is also a fog and lighthouse signal, which was erected by a US Coast Guard in 1932 on the Anacapa Island. It is still operational and admired to this day.

Fast forward to the mid-90s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 26th April,April 1938 decided to declare the Santa Barbara Islands and Anacapa Island as part of the Channel Islands National Monument. The monuments were later expanded to include the one-mile area around the landscape. Through this, the marine life and kelp beds also came under the park’s protection. The present version of Channel Islands National Park that we know today was created in 1980, which includes the official five islands – Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara.


Planning Your Itinerary

Planning the trip will require you to study the itinerary you’ll be taking to reach each park in the area. There are closely located so the most common form of transportation is usually by boat. You can either use a privately-owned vessel or hire the park’s transport called Island Packers. The locally-owned company is immensely popular and is now celebrating its 51st anniversary this year.


How to Get There

Since , the most popular mode of transport isare park concessionaire boats, you can reserve your spot a week before you’re visiting. The availability of the boats depends on the weather conditions and island accessibility. The two main harbors from where the public boats depart are Oxnard, Channel Islands or Ventura Harbor. You can make a reservation on the Island Packers Website for extremely reasonable prices. However, by taking a private boat, you can enjoy more autonomy of time and won’t be needing aneed permits.

If you want to get to the islands quicker and are willing to spend an extra buck, take a 25-minute flight through Channel Islands Aviation that begins at the Camarillo Airport and ends at Santa Rosa Island. TravellingTraveling by flight offers an exceptional aerial view of the entire national park, especially Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands.

However, once you reach the designated island, the only modes of transportation are private boats, kayaks or walkfoot.


Things to Do

There are many exciting activities that make for an unforgettable itinerary at the Channel Islands National Park. The islands with their stunning mountain peaks are a hiker’s dream. Since, there are no motor vehicles allowed, the only way to explore the mountainous landscape is by foot. Meet dirt roads and several trails that traverse the islands. From the rugged, mountainous trails of Santa Rosa to the flat paths of Anacapa, make sure to enjoy the 2-mile trek starting that begins from Anacapa and leads you to the Inspiration Point.

Snorkeling and diving are also two popular pursuits at the national park. While there’s so much to discover on land, the eerie depths of the ocean are intriguing and beautiful as well. Eastern Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Anacapa offer one of the best spots for oceanic adventures. However, it’s important to venture into the coastal areas with a professional guide or a diving group like the Channel Islands Diuve Adventures for a fun-filled yet safe vacation.

The islands also offer a wonderful hiking experience. There are multiple trails dispersed across the islands with more than 2,000 beautiful species of plants and animals to encounter during your journey. You can hike, look for wildlife, and enjoy the pristine views of the ocean as you climb the heights. Santa Cruz has a total of 15 trails, while Anacapa is known for an en enthralling hike, leading up to the lighthouse. The Santa Rosa Island is known for the Lobo Canyon with pygmy mammoth fossils, sandstone formations, and of course, local island foxes.

Whether you’re here for a half a day or wish to spend an entire week, the attractions at the Channel Islands National Park are beyond indescribable. So, without further ado, let’s explore the beautiful vistas, pristine mountain trails, and the coastal bliss of the Channel Islands National Park.


Top Attractions at Channel Islands National Park

The chain of five islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel – are colorful vistas on the Pacific Ocean. Rich, stunning, and verdant with their untouched beauty, these five islands are packed with refreshing attractions. Whether you’re a solo traveler or globe-trotting with family and friends, there are tons of picturesque attractions for everyone at the Channel Islands National Park.

1. Channel Islands Visitor Center:

Like many other parks in the US, your trip will kick-off a stop-over at the Visitor CentersKick start your trip by stopping at the Visitor’s Center. Since, the national park is a collection of different islands, there areis more than one Visitor Center in the area. Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center is located in Ventura, California. Here, you will find an extensive bookstore with books old and new books about the topography, natural wonders, and science behind the Channel Islands National Park.

There’s also an elaborate and mesmerizing display of marine life waiting to be explored. Look for rare underwater species, take pictures, and collect souvenirs for an unforgettable trip. Here, you will also find attractive exhibits that feature and discuss all the unique details about all the parks of the island. Visitors can also have fun watching the 25-minute park movie called “A Treasure in the Sea”, which is exactly what the islands are.

The movie is broadcasted through the day at the auditorium, so even if you’ve missed a few parts, you can always catch up and enjoy an educational session. Since, this is the main Visitor Center, it’s fully accessible from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day of the week. The only two days when it’s not open isare Christmas and Thanksgiving. On the weekend, the ranger guides offer a special program from 11 am – 3 pm that engages and educates visitors with the public resources of the park.

There’s another center in Santa Barbara, California, known as the Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center, which undoubtedly offers the best view of the island. Not only will you enjoy the clear, blue ocean, but you will also love the highs and lows of the landscape. It’s a sight to behold. This Visitor Center also offers tourists and travelers insights on into the national park itself, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the City of Santa Barbara, and the exciting Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. This one opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm. It is closedremains off on every Wednesday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and the first Friday ofin August for Fiesta. So, if you didn’t get a chance to visit the center in Ventura, you have a pretty good chance at this onecan visit here.

2. Anacapa Island:

The Anacapa Island is an adventurous island thriving in green vistas that are surrounded by the blue ocean. If you only have time to visit one island of all theout of the five, then this is itmake sure to visit this one. However, since the island is isolated and located in a remote location, you need to come well-prepared. Since, the only transportation is by either foot or kayak, you can’t afford to have a poorly-planned trip.

Of all the Channel Islands, the tiny Anacapa Iisland is closest to the mainland. It stretches 12 miles out towards the sea that only takes an hour-long boat ride via Island Packers. Since it’s small, it can be easily toured in less than a day, which is also why it’s the most-visited. Anacapa is known for the mysteriously beautiful lighthouse that lets out a mournful horn every once in a while. It was erected in 1932 to drive people away from the dangerous shoreline. Anacapa Island has three tiny islets, and after a 2-mile trail at one of those, the place dramatically overlooks at the Cathedral Cove and the famous Inspiration Point. From the latter, you can actually gaze at the Anacapa islets as well as the humongous Santa Cruz Island that lies beyond the trails.

When it comes to hiking, the Anacapa Island is limited to only two miles of trails;, however, the scenery is unimaginably beautiful. The island has a figure-eight shaped trail system that is easy and flat for hiking. Meander over the gentle slopes that lead you to stunning overlooks of all the other islands and mountainous peaks in the region. The view of the coastal line, however, is the one of the most magnificent sceneries over there. When hiking, be careful of the nesting seabirds and delicate vegetation. Beware of sea-gulls as the beginning of the year is a special time when they mate and concentrate in crowds over the island. For this reason, you should always stay on your designated trail path. The West and Middle Anacapa aren’t open to hiking because this is where the island wildlife dwells, making it unsafe for the visitors. You may only tour Frenchys Cove in West Anacapa via a boat.

If you want to enjoy a light swim on a calm day, the landing cove is a good place to be. However, beaches at East Anacapa are normally not accessible because the cliffs are steep and hundreds of feet high. Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear so that you can meet the giant sea-kelp and the garibaldis during your sea excursions. If you’re travelling with kids, always pack sun-protection like hats and sunscreen as Anacapa is a treeless region.

The islands normally close down if there is a construction project in progress. According to the NPS, the Anacapa Island too will not be accessible from 12-25 November 2019 because of the ongoing Cane Construction.

3. Santa Cruz Island:

Santa Cruz Island is the easiest island to reach for a long overnight camping trip or a one-day trip. Santa Cruz has the best weather hands down, which makes it a wonderful place for summer excursions. Whether you want to take a swim, enjoy a kayaking trip, admire the oceanic wildlife, or camp in the coastal ambiaence, Santa Cruz has it all.

As is the case with all the other islands, you need to prepare well and become as self-reliant as possible. The island doesn’t have many services, so you and your family will have to plan well. For hiking, the island offers a wide stretch of roads and gorgeous trails towards the eastern side. These trails are a combination of relatively flat, well-maintained, and signed trails of the Scorpion Valley that gracefully lead to the mountainous, unmaintained, and rugged routes of the MontanonMontanan area.

However, hiking is only restricted to the national park property. Visitors aren’t allowed to go beyond into the Nature Conservancy property. The property line can be seen. It is, marked by a fence-line between Valley Anchorage and Prisoners Harbor.

Camping is another major pursuit at the Santa Cruz Island. The Scorpion Canyon is the perfect place to enjoy an over-night camping adventure under the star-lit sky. There are 31 sites at the campground that can be reserved for only $15 per night. You only need to arrange the snacks while the picnic table, water, pit toilet, and the food storage box are all provided at the site. Scorpion Canyon is one of the most family-friendly camping spots as it offers a range of convenient services for a fantastic camping night. You can also enjoy back countrybackcountry camping at the Del Norte campsite, located near Prisoner’s Harbor.

When it comes to water-sports, Santa Cruz is nothing short of a wonderland. The island is breathtakingly beautiful; however, an underwater trip is what you truly need to savor the natural coastal beauty. The cobblestone and sand Scorpion Beach is a terrific, world-class vacation spot for swimmers, divers, kayakers, and snorkeling enthusiasts.

The beach access is easy, reasonable with the stunning ocean right in front of you as you enjoy a fun swim. The year-round Island Packers offer quick-and-easy boat transportation to get to the beach in no time. With extensive kelp forests that are sure to take your breath away and sea caves that lead into mysterious vaults, the wonders of Santa Cruz are endless. You also get beach access towards the Prisoner’s Harbor and a bonus hiking adventure at the Smugglers Cove.

As you move Moving west towards Cavern Point and east at theor east toward Scorpion Rock, the places provide a you will enjoyfun spot for kayaking, enjoying great wildlife views, and and scenic sea caves and find some places for kayaking.. To find a kayak guide and outfitting services for your trip, you can refer to the Visitor Services’ list.

Many pristine locations on Santa Cruz Island are also ideal for surfing. During the summer, the south shore offers the best tides for a fun surfing adventure, while winters make the northwest swells of the ocean favorable. However, all the surfing spots are in remote areas, so you’ll be needingneed a private boat. The island’s terrain can get rough and rugged;, therefore, it’s best for a professional guide to accompany youto travel with a professional guide.

4. San Miguel Island:

San Miguel Island isA a gorgeous island located towards the westernmost part of California, San Miguel Island . It is a magical place to spend a camping night at. Although, it’s hard to get to, the island hosts nearly 200 lucky families for an unforgettable camp night. Just Southwest of Santa Barbara and a little further away from Point Conception, San Miguel Island is a quiet, stunning, and relaxing retreat for families.

Island Packers offers exclusive concessions for all boat riders heading to the island. Although, most areas are restricted to protect wildlife and fragile foliage, there are many spectacular hiking opportunities. Explore the stunning 2-mile long Cuyler Harbor Beach, which is a beautiful spot with towering cliffs and breath-taking rock formations. Don’t forget to visit the Prince Island, on your way, whichas it is the only remarkable harbor around the northern tier.

Stop over at Point Bennet towards the extreme western end, and enjoy some of the rarest sights. You will get to of see sea lions, seals, and more species of pinnipeds than anywhere else in the world. The island is beautifully carved over the ocean, making for an enrapturing aerial view. Lighted with a whistle buoy that is visible for 4 miles, visitors can easily navigate their way on the island.

Other famous attractions are Nidever Canyon, the Lester Ranch site, and the Cabrillo Monument. However, what you should anticipate the most is the caliche forest. Surrounded by mysticism, the forest comprises consists of rows of calcium-carbonate casts that were once fine green trees.

5. Santa Rosa Island:

This island lies just beyond the Point Conception;, hence, it enjoys coastal weather during most times of the year. Visitors can expect foggy, chilly days even when it’s summer. while w Winds are likely to get high in the evening. The typical landing at Santa Rosa takes place through a pier at Beacher’s Bay.

Stretching 84 square miles, Santa Rosa Island is the second largest in the Channel Island Archipelago. Known for two of the most mesmerizing peaks – the 396-m high Black Mountain running 396m high and the 48-m high Soledad peak—, Santa Rosa Island is nothing short of a wonderland.

Most of the landscape is covered by rolling hills, dramatic and steep canyons like the Water Canyon, and white sandy beaches. There are many exciting trails and roads for adventurous hikers. During the summer, if you’re lucky enough, you can also spot Humpback and Blue Whales near the coast. The island offers a guided hike on the Cherry Canyon trail, which is ranked as moderate. If you’re taking the longer loop trail, which is a 7.5 mile -long, strenuous route, the hike ascends to the top of the grove, leading to spectacular views of the entire island.

6. Santa Barbara Island:

Santa Barbara Island is Tthe smallest and the only southern island in the park. It , Santa Barbara Island has is the smallest of all yet the one with the most beautiful wildlife.. Located 55 miles from the Ventura County, the longer route offers a wonderful chance to catch chirpy seabirds, whales, and dolphins.

Beware, though, the island doesn’t have shade trees or potable water, so make sure you come with an ample supply of both. The island is fairly isolated, which has made it an ideal breeding ground for sea lions and seals. The island may be small, but it’s thriving with native flora like the spring wildflower bloom, which is a radiant and colorful sight for visitors. The island is also known for its highest peak, the Signal Hill – a city situated at the top of a hill.

Island Packers offer a day trip that begins fromat 8 am. Upon reaching the island and encountering flourishing wildlife, a Park naturalist volunteer conducts an orientation at the visitor’s center. After this, you can explore all the natural trails that run five-mile long from the center. Stay on the lookout for Elephant Seal Cove and Webster Point as you hike up the island. Both the points offer amazing marine vistas, giving you a chance to admire sea lions and seals.

Don’t forget to drop by at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum for interesting exhibits, and fun learning sessions on oceanic life!

7. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary:

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary – owing to its incredible diversity and thriving wildlife— - is famously referred to as the “Galapagos of the Northern Hemisphere”. It currently protects over 14,00 square miles of the pristine ocean engulfing the Northern Channel Islands. Located off the Pacific Coast, close to Santa Barbara, the official sanctuary program is regulated by the Natural Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Here you will find sensitive habitats, endangered species, plenty of cultural resources and shipwrecks, to study and admire. The sanctuary preserves the marine wildlife through education, research, stewardship, and conservation.

8. Whale-watching:

With islands that are surrounded by blue, it goes without question that whale-watching is a beloved pursuit at Channel Islands. You can have a look at their official website to catch their guided whale-watching tours. Spotting a Blue whale in the ocean might just be the most memorable part of your oceanic tour.

The ever-changing ocean conditions bring up a lot of nutrient-rich water that has a a greater wealth of food for marine life. This is one reason why you’re likely to spot Gray whales, Orcas, and Finback whales in the pristine waters of this sanctuary. You will also find long-running pods of dolphins, sea lions, and seals, including many, many endangered birds along the coasts of Channel Islands National Park.

Forming a chain of eight glorious islands, the Channel Islands National Park is one of the best places to visit this summer. Let’s move on to the most comfortable lodgings to stay inat with your family near the island.


Best Lodgings

There are many places aAround the Channel Islands National Park, there are many places offeringthat offer comfortable accommodations, scenic views, and impressive amenities, allowing you to enjoy a memorable trip. Let’s get to know some!

1. Amanzi Hotel:

Placing you at a 10-minute stroll from of all the popular spots around Channel Islands National Park, Amanzi Hotel is a great option for families willing to spend more than a week here. With spacious suites and bedrooms, free breakfast and Wi-Fi, and an outdoor pool, you might just want to vacation at the hotel only!

The place serves an excellent fine dining experience, and 119 air-conditioned rooms with coffee makers, refrigerators, and microwaves. You can also enjoy your favorite TV Sshows while you wait to catch a boat ride to the national park.

2. Vagabond Inn Oxnard:

Located within 2 miles of Carnegie Art Museum, this hotel is quite near to the Chandler Vintage Museum of Transportation and Wildlife. A 70-room hotel with modern conveniences, an outdoor pool, and free breakfast and Wi-Fi, Vagabond Inn Oxnard is your next best option.

3. Motel 6 Ventura Beach:

Motel 6 Ventura Beach is located in Pierpont Bay, just 2 miles from all the popular attractions you’d like to see in the city like Ventura Harbor and Ventura Pier. This hotel is known for offering a breath-taking view of the coastal areas. The 200-room motel offers a range of free services, including self-parking, and delicious cuisine during your stay here.

4. Ventura Beach Marriott:

Another famous place to crash in is the Ventura Beach Marriott. Located in Peirpont Bay, the hotel is near Motel 6 Ventura Beach. This one stands out for its picturesque beachside views, beautiful interior and five-star amenities during your stay. An easy boat ride away from Channel Islands National Park, the hotel is budget-friendly for both families and solo -travelers.

5. Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach:

Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach is located in a central, scenic place. The Ventura Pier, for example, is only a 5- minutes away. with oOther popular spots, like Mission San Buenaventura, are only ais a short stroll away. The 235-room hotel welcomes its guests with fine dining, free breakfasts, a 24-hour fitness center, and an arcade room for tourists and travelers. Enjoy your stay here as you venture out every day to explore the Channel Islands National Park.



Safety Travelling Tips

As much as you would like to enjoy your trip toat the Channel Islands National Park, it’s important to follow these tips to ensure both you and your family stay safe and sound.

Always Check the Weather Before You Go:

All the islands enjoy high winds and a chilly coastal weather throughout the year. Therefore, it’s important to check the weather forecast as the beachside can get unpredictable. You don’t want to encounter a stormy evening as you prepare for camping.

Food and Water:

You might not find potable water in most areas of the island;, therefore, always get an ample supply before you start your journey. You can also get water bottles from the visitor center. A service by the name of Channel Island Provisioners is also a great option if you want to enjoy some fine dining at the islands. The head chef will drop off your meals before you depart. Make sure, you have a good supply of fruits, snacks, and satiating meals before you start your journeysetting off to the national park. The island can definitely get dry and hot, requiring you to hydrate yourself constantly.

Hiking Gear:

Both Santa Cruz and Anacapa don’t have trees for shade, which is why it’s extremely important to bring along sun-protection. Wear hats, sunshades and, sunscreen, and make sure your clothing is long and protected. Your hiking shoes should be stout, tough, and built to stand the difficult trails of the national park.

Swimming:

If you’re up for some swimming or snorkeling in the alcoves, make sure to pack your swim suits, and snorkel equipments beforehand. The island doesn’t have manyuch services that provide swimwear. Since the seashore is rocky, it’s important to wear water shoes that don’t stick.



Parting Words

The Channel Islands National Park is a collection of some of the most breath-taking and picturesque vistas. Anyone who has dreamed about a house by the beach will love this place. Stop by at each island and savor the salty air of the stunning seashore. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to see thecatch dolphins, orcas, and sea-lions in their best habitat. So what are you waiting for? With so much to offer, Iit’s time to pack your bags and head out for an oceanic retreat!

Safe Travels!


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Your Guide to the Channel Islands National Park

Book AuthorGoglides
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Your Guide to the Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park – General Summary

The Channel Islands National Park is picturesque, pristine, and wildly beautiful collection of islands that were once referred to as Ancient String of Pearls. Located off the coast of California, the national park is a collection of five different islands closely dispersed on the Pacific Ocean. Discovered by Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo along with his Spanish fleet in 1542, the islands were brimming with beautiful foliage, graceful mountain peaks, and marine ecosystems.


Date of Establishment

Before the Channel Islands Archipelago was officially declared as a national heritage site, it was home to the Chumash community. They were natives who inhabited the islands for many years until the European Contact in the 18th Century. The islands were then transformed economically and physically for seal and otter hunting, fishing, and the establishment of European Industries.

All the five national islands were affected by the Second World War, Cold War, and 20th century development. It was finally on the 26th April, 1938 after a series of significant events, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Santa Barbara and Anacapa Islands as part of the Channel Islands Archipelago. The present national park, which comprises five national islands was officially created in 1980.


Popular Season

The national park can be visited all year-round and during any season. However, since it’s essentially a trove of islands, the best time to enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, and snorkeling is usually during Summer and Fall. The ocean temperatures are optimum at 70 degrees and the ocean visibility is as deep as 100 ft. Many people therefore visit the park from early June all the way into September.

The extreme winter and early spring months are typically less frequented by visitors. The islands are beset by high tides, winds, and heavy downpour. However, tourists who love the extreme coastal weather won’t mind it at all. Each season offers a unique experience. For example, visiting in late December all the way to April, is a good time to enjoy gray whale watching. Peak wildflower blooms can also be witnessed after blissful rain showers from January to March. All in all, depending on your preference, anytime is a good time to visit the Channel Islands National Park.


Visitor Center

Like every park in the US, the Channel Islands has an insightful and informational Visitor Centers that are usually a first stop for most tourists and travelers. The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Ventura features a fun bookstore, a tour of the marine aquatic life, and exhibits that display the unique features of each of the five islands. There is also Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center offering the best view of the island, short informational sessions on the national park, and the lovely Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. With so much to see, admire, and be mesmerized by, let’s explore the Channel Islands National Park.


Introduction

The Channel Islands National Park is one of the 61 American national parks being operated under the National Park Service. It comprises five of the eight Channel Islands that are located off the coast of California, USA. As part of the greater Pacific Ocean, these islands have remained relatively isolated. This is one reason why they’re not as densely populated and developed as other national parks in the USA. However, the relatively fewer traces of human footprint have only added to their natural, pure, and untouched beauty. These five islands are as follows:

  • Anacapa Island
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Santa Rosa Island
  • San Miguel Island
  • Santa Barbara Island

Each lusciously beautiful and verdant island is engulfed by the calming Blue Ocean. They are famous attractions for tourists and travelers who want to explore the breathtaking but rare corners of the world. If you live in California, you’re lucky because the islands serve as a wonderful weekend retreat. But, coming from anywhere else around the world will be just as adventurous and exciting a journey.

Every single island is a fascinating world in itself. They have humbly preserved the remaining natural traces of what California once looked like. It can be a little challenging to cover all the attractions as the park encompasses five large islands. However, even if your visit lasts a week, the picturesque beauty will put your heart at peace. Let’s have a look at each of these islands in detail.

Anacapa Island is a rather small volcanic landscape located 11 miles from the coast of Port Hueneme in California. The island comprises three different islets that are each 10 km long and hold enrapturing beauty. These are known as the East, Middle, and West Anacapa. Collectively, they are called the Anacapas. Each islet consists of rare, verdant foliage and precipitous cliffs that gracefully drop off into the sea. Anacapa is actually the smallest from all the Channel Islands archipelago.

Santa Cruz Island is quite safely the largest island in the Channel Islands and all of California. Located off the southwestern coast, Santa Cruz is 35km long and runs as wide as 6 miles. With an official population of somewhere around 2000, this island is originally administered under the Santa Barbara County, California. Covering huge acres, the island is a one-stop tourist spot for families and solotravelers. Here you will find mysteriously beautiful sea caves, steep cliffs, and crystal sandy beaches that are going to renew your love for the ocean.

A flourishing valley divides the island along the Santa Cruz Island Fault. The northern side is famous for its volcanic rocks, while older sedimentary rocks can be found in the south. This volcanic rock was once heavily fractured, which results in the creation of over a hundred sea caves into the resulting faults. Home to the largest sea cave, which is called the Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island is famous for rare endemic species of plants and animals, especially the sneaky but stunning Santa Cruz Island Fox.The island is also known for being home to the highest point called the Devils Peak that stands at an astonishing height of 2,450 ft. Second largest on the listis the Santa Rosa Island. It covers up to 53,195 acres of land. From Santa Barbara coast, it is only 26 miles. The island is known for being inhabited by the Chumash, who were a group of Native Americans during the time of the European contact. The island is historically rich as the century-old human remains in the Americas, known as the Arlington Springs Man, was discovered here. The island has a very intriguing and diverse terrain. The place offers so much more than what meets the eyes— a blue coastal lagoon, deep, adventurous canyons, and a series of rolling hills. The island is home to a rare species of pine trees, which is known as the Torrey Pine. They can be found in two locations of the world. Boasting one of the highest peaks in the region, Santa Rosa is known for the Vail Peak that stands at 1,589 ft. Tourists enjoy numerous activities here including kayaking, hiking, and camping. Here, overnight camping reservations can be made via the Channel Islands National Park office.

San Miguel Island is what heaven would look like on earth. With wind and weather visiting the North Pacific, San Miguel might be known for its extreme climate, but that only adds to the adventure hidden in its natural beauty. The island covers an area of 9,500 acres. Although it’s mainly a plateau that rises to a 500 ft elevation, the island is also home to rounded hills that gracefully emerge from its windswept, picturesque landscape. The lush and verdant vegetation that we see on the landscape today is actually a fraction of what the island was once covered by. Sadly, the greenery succumbed to years of overgrazing and sheep ranching, leaving behind what scientists refer to as a “barren lump of sand”. Here you will find buckwheat, coastal sagebrush, dudleya, locoweed, and giant coreopsis that are one of the finest and ethereal plants to study.

The last and the fifth island is called the Santa Barbara Island, a small landscape of the Channel Islands archipelago in the heart of Southern California. Located 61 km from the landform of Palos Verdes Peninsula, the island covers a total area of 640 acres, making it the smallest of all the eight Channel Islands. Known for its highest peak, Signal Hill that rises as tall asto a height of 634 ft. tThe Santa Barbara Island is a heavenly wonder on earth. The perfect spot for a romantic getaway or a family retreat, this island is part of the Santa Barbara County. It has an insightful and precious marine ecosystem that is maintained under the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Like most of the islands in the scene, this one can be viewed right from the mainland during winters when the sky is exceptionally clear. At Santa Barbara Island, there are a number of tourist activities to indulge in. From hiking and camping to enjoying water sports, fishing, and wildlife viewing, the joy this place offers is endless and unforgettable.

All the five islands under the Channel Island Archipelago are beautiful, unique, and artistic in their own way. Whether you wish to explore the stunning sea caves at Santa Cruz Island, climb the highest peak of Santa Barbara Island, or enjoy the enrapturing wildlife at Anacapa Island, there is so much this place offers. The main route to reach to four of the five islands is by boat. Enjoy the pristine, clear waters as they take you to your designated island. The boat ride to Santa Rosa Island might be longer and more challenging; however, you can always take a flight out of Camarillo Airport. The journey and the destination are both unforgettable, beautiful, and out-of-this-world. It probably won’t matter whether you reach by water or sky, visiting the Channel Iislands National Park is a trip of a life-time. Let’s explore the intriguing history behind these beautifully preserved sites.


A Brief History

Like other parks in the US, the Channel Islands National Parks had to go through a series of signatures and declarations to acquire public access. With separate islands dispersed across the ocean, the fight in this case was harder. Surfacing over the horizon from the mysterious depths of the Pacific Ocean, the gorgeous peaks and coastal mountains of Channel islandsIslands are a heavenly giveaway. They offer a natural getaway to an ancient past that dates back 12,000 years intoin human history. Considering how most of the islands are sparsely populated, isolated, or largely uninhabited, the raw, untouched natural beauty is what draws most tourists and travelers from around the world.

They can witness what coastal areas and mountains looked like before modern civilizations began exploiting the landscape in the name of “development”. Anyone who wants to see the purity of culture, free wildlife, and pristine natural wonders is going to fall in love with the Channel Islands National Park.

The islands have attracted many scientists, explorers, and historians during the past few centuries. Today, whether you’re a solo traveler, adventuring with your plus one, or going as a family, the Channel islands welcomes you to walk in the shoes where theof century-old European explorers who once landed here, witness the horrific off-shore shipwrecks that truly add to the history of this place, and of course, discover old and new tales of California’s intriguing ranching history.

We’ve already discussed how the northern Channel Islands were home to Chumash communities, who were the native inhabitants of the area. They are one of the oldest traces of human establishments on the islands, and also the most widely studied. The Europeans first arrived during the 16th cCentury, where they discovered a vibrant culture of people heavily dependent on the natural resources. The sea beingsea was their main avenue of sustenance and survival and, these people decided to inhabit the islands soon after. They slowly began settling in the Islands, and it was finally in the 19th century, when the Europeans had officially established their industrial presence. The islands that once served natural resources for the native Chumash communities was were now being used for completely different reasons.

There were spacious cattle and sheep ranches that covered the islands of San Miguel, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa. Considering how the island was a marine sanctuary, the European civilization also used the coastal areas and marine mammals for fishing and livelihood. Each island has a fascinating heritage and historic legend tied to it that is mesmerizingly unforgettable.

The traces of ancient Chumaish villages have been deeply intermingled with military structures that were later developed in the region and historic ranch complexes, which testify to the rich, diverse, and incredibly beautiful first human experiences in the region. For history lovers, the islands are sure a treat!


The Ancient String of Pearls

A string of pearls might be reminiscent of the mysteriously beautiful Titanic. The ship sunk, taking thousands of lives with it under the sea. Nothing could be more tragic yet intriguing then that, right? Well, you might want to rethink. Instead of an actual necklace, the Channel islands themselves are known as the Ancient String of Pearls stretching across the Pacific Ocean.

Hidden deep in the cerulean waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, a Spanish named Juan Rodriquez and his fleet found a beautiful island chain. The fleet had first landed at the San Miguel Iisland in 1542. Since , the Chumash communities had inhabited the northern islands for a long time, Cabrillo’s fleet sought to explore the offshore areas as well as the California mainland. It was this excursion that produced the first account of the ancient Chumash culture, eventually securing the islands for the Spanish Throne. However, over the centuries, as more and more civilizations came by, the area encountered a number of economic transformations. Soon enough, the inhabitants began indulging in fishing, seal hunting, kelp production, and shellfish harvesting. By this time around, the Chumash began emptying the islands and moved towards the mainland.

By the 20th cCentury, after the Mexican Independence from Spain, the state of California witnessed a major liking for livestock ranching. All of the five national parks fully advocated sheep grazing with Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Island with the largest cattle operations in the region. The islands were also affected by the WWII and the Cold War events. One can find numerous shipwrecks that are a testament to historic events, where busy mariners tried to travel across the narrow channels. There is also a fog and lighthouse signal, which was erected by a US Coast Guard in 1932 on the Anacapa Island. It is still operational and admired to this day.

Fast forward to the mid-90s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 26th April,April 1938 decided to declare the Santa Barbara Islands and Anacapa Island as part of the Channel Islands National Monument. The monuments were later expanded to include the one-mile area around the landscape. Through this, the marine life and kelp beds also came under the park’s protection. The present version of Channel Islands National Park that we know today was created in 1980, which includes the official five islands – Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara.


Planning Your Itinerary

Planning the trip will require you to study the itinerary you’ll be taking to reach each park in the area. There are closely located so the most common form of transportation is usually by boat. You can either use a privately-owned vessel or hire the park’s transport called Island Packers. The locally-owned company is immensely popular and is now celebrating its 51st anniversary this year.


How to Get There

Since , the most popular mode of transport isare park concessionaire boats, you can reserve your spot a week before you’re visiting. The availability of the boats depends on the weather conditions and island accessibility. The two main harbors from where the public boats depart are Oxnard, Channel Islands or Ventura Harbor. You can make a reservation on the Island Packers Website for extremely reasonable prices. However, by taking a private boat, you can enjoy more autonomy of time and won’t be needing aneed permits.

If you want to get to the islands quicker and are willing to spend an extra buck, take a 25-minute flight through Channel Islands Aviation that begins at the Camarillo Airport and ends at Santa Rosa Island. TravellingTraveling by flight offers an exceptional aerial view of the entire national park, especially Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands.

However, once you reach the designated island, the only modes of transportation are private boats, kayaks or walkfoot.


Things to Do

There are many exciting activities that make for an unforgettable itinerary at the Channel Islands National Park. The islands with their stunning mountain peaks are a hiker’s dream. Since, there are no motor vehicles allowed, the only way to explore the mountainous landscape is by foot. Meet dirt roads and several trails that traverse the islands. From the rugged, mountainous trails of Santa Rosa to the flat paths of Anacapa, make sure to enjoy the 2-mile trek starting that begins from Anacapa and leads you to the Inspiration Point.

Snorkeling and diving are also two popular pursuits at the national park. While there’s so much to discover on land, the eerie depths of the ocean are intriguing and beautiful as well. Eastern Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Anacapa offer one of the best spots for oceanic adventures. However, it’s important to venture into the coastal areas with a professional guide or a diving group like the Channel Islands Diuve Adventures for a fun-filled yet safe vacation.

The islands also offer a wonderful hiking experience. There are multiple trails dispersed across the islands with more than 2,000 beautiful species of plants and animals to encounter during your journey. You can hike, look for wildlife, and enjoy the pristine views of the ocean as you climb the heights. Santa Cruz has a total of 15 trails, while Anacapa is known for an en enthralling hike, leading up to the lighthouse. The Santa Rosa Island is known for the Lobo Canyon with pygmy mammoth fossils, sandstone formations, and of course, local island foxes.

Whether you’re here for a half a day or wish to spend an entire week, the attractions at the Channel Islands National Park are beyond indescribable. So, without further ado, let’s explore the beautiful vistas, pristine mountain trails, and the coastal bliss of the Channel Islands National Park.


Top Attractions at Channel Islands National Park

The chain of five islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel – are colorful vistas on the Pacific Ocean. Rich, stunning, and verdant with their untouched beauty, these five islands are packed with refreshing attractions. Whether you’re a solo traveler or globe-trotting with family and friends, there are tons of picturesque attractions for everyone at the Channel Islands National Park.

1. Channel Islands Visitor Center:

Like many other parks in the US, your trip will kick-off a stop-over at the Visitor CentersKick start your trip by stopping at the Visitor’s Center. Since, the national park is a collection of different islands, there areis more than one Visitor Center in the area. Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center is located in Ventura, California. Here, you will find an extensive bookstore with books old and new books about the topography, natural wonders, and science behind the Channel Islands National Park.

There’s also an elaborate and mesmerizing display of marine life waiting to be explored. Look for rare underwater species, take pictures, and collect souvenirs for an unforgettable trip. Here, you will also find attractive exhibits that feature and discuss all the unique details about all the parks of the island. Visitors can also have fun watching the 25-minute park movie called “A Treasure in the Sea”, which is exactly what the islands are.

The movie is broadcasted through the day at the auditorium, so even if you’ve missed a few parts, you can always catch up and enjoy an educational session. Since, this is the main Visitor Center, it’s fully accessible from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day of the week. The only two days when it’s not open isare Christmas and Thanksgiving. On the weekend, the ranger guides offer a special program from 11 am – 3 pm that engages and educates visitors with the public resources of the park.

There’s another center in Santa Barbara, California, known as the Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center, which undoubtedly offers the best view of the island. Not only will you enjoy the clear, blue ocean, but you will also love the highs and lows of the landscape. It’s a sight to behold. This Visitor Center also offers tourists and travelers insights on into the national park itself, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the City of Santa Barbara, and the exciting Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. This one opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm. It is closedremains off on every Wednesday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and the first Friday ofin August for Fiesta. So, if you didn’t get a chance to visit the center in Ventura, you have a pretty good chance at this onecan visit here.

2. Anacapa Island:

The Anacapa Island is an adventurous island thriving in green vistas that are surrounded by the blue ocean. If you only have time to visit one island of all theout of the five, then this is itmake sure to visit this one. However, since the island is isolated and located in a remote location, you need to come well-prepared. Since, the only transportation is by either foot or kayak, you can’t afford to have a poorly-planned trip.

Of all the Channel Islands, the tiny Anacapa Iisland is closest to the mainland. It stretches 12 miles out towards the sea that only takes an hour-long boat ride via Island Packers. Since it’s small, it can be easily toured in less than a day, which is also why it’s the most-visited. Anacapa is known for the mysteriously beautiful lighthouse that lets out a mournful horn every once in a while. It was erected in 1932 to drive people away from the dangerous shoreline. Anacapa Island has three tiny islets, and after a 2-mile trail at one of those, the place dramatically overlooks at the Cathedral Cove and the famous Inspiration Point. From the latter, you can actually gaze at the Anacapa islets as well as the humongous Santa Cruz Island that lies beyond the trails.

When it comes to hiking, the Anacapa Island is limited to only two miles of trails;, however, the scenery is unimaginably beautiful. The island has a figure-eight shaped trail system that is easy and flat for hiking. Meander over the gentle slopes that lead you to stunning overlooks of all the other islands and mountainous peaks in the region. The view of the coastal line, however, is the one of the most magnificent sceneries over there. When hiking, be careful of the nesting seabirds and delicate vegetation. Beware of sea-gulls as the beginning of the year is a special time when they mate and concentrate in crowds over the island. For this reason, you should always stay on your designated trail path. The West and Middle Anacapa aren’t open to hiking because this is where the island wildlife dwells, making it unsafe for the visitors. You may only tour Frenchys Cove in West Anacapa via a boat.

If you want to enjoy a light swim on a calm day, the landing cove is a good place to be. However, beaches at East Anacapa are normally not accessible because the cliffs are steep and hundreds of feet high. Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear so that you can meet the giant sea-kelp and the garibaldis during your sea excursions. If you’re travelling with kids, always pack sun-protection like hats and sunscreen as Anacapa is a treeless region.

The islands normally close down if there is a construction project in progress. According to the NPS, the Anacapa Island too will not be accessible from 12-25 November 2019 because of the ongoing Cane Construction.

3. Santa Cruz Island:

Santa Cruz Island is the easiest island to reach for a long overnight camping trip or a one-day trip. Santa Cruz has the best weather hands down, which makes it a wonderful place for summer excursions. Whether you want to take a swim, enjoy a kayaking trip, admire the oceanic wildlife, or camp in the coastal ambiaence, Santa Cruz has it all.

As is the case with all the other islands, you need to prepare well and become as self-reliant as possible. The island doesn’t have many services, so you and your family will have to plan well. For hiking, the island offers a wide stretch of roads and gorgeous trails towards the eastern side. These trails are a combination of relatively flat, well-maintained, and signed trails of the Scorpion Valley that gracefully lead to the mountainous, unmaintained, and rugged routes of the MontanonMontanan area.

However, hiking is only restricted to the national park property. Visitors aren’t allowed to go beyond into the Nature Conservancy property. The property line can be seen. It is, marked by a fence-line between Valley Anchorage and Prisoners Harbor.

Camping is another major pursuit at the Santa Cruz Island. The Scorpion Canyon is the perfect place to enjoy an over-night camping adventure under the star-lit sky. There are 31 sites at the campground that can be reserved for only $15 per night. You only need to arrange the snacks while the picnic table, water, pit toilet, and the food storage box are all provided at the site. Scorpion Canyon is one of the most family-friendly camping spots as it offers a range of convenient services for a fantastic camping night. You can also enjoy back countrybackcountry camping at the Del Norte campsite, located near Prisoner’s Harbor.

When it comes to water-sports, Santa Cruz is nothing short of a wonderland. The island is breathtakingly beautiful; however, an underwater trip is what you truly need to savor the natural coastal beauty. The cobblestone and sand Scorpion Beach is a terrific, world-class vacation spot for swimmers, divers, kayakers, and snorkeling enthusiasts.

The beach access is easy, reasonable with the stunning ocean right in front of you as you enjoy a fun swim. The year-round Island Packers offer quick-and-easy boat transportation to get to the beach in no time. With extensive kelp forests that are sure to take your breath away and sea caves that lead into mysterious vaults, the wonders of Santa Cruz are endless. You also get beach access towards the Prisoner’s Harbor and a bonus hiking adventure at the Smugglers Cove.

As you move Moving west towards Cavern Point and east at theor east toward Scorpion Rock, the places provide a you will enjoyfun spot for kayaking, enjoying great wildlife views, and and scenic sea caves and find some places for kayaking.. To find a kayak guide and outfitting services for your trip, you can refer to the Visitor Services’ list.

Many pristine locations on Santa Cruz Island are also ideal for surfing. During the summer, the south shore offers the best tides for a fun surfing adventure, while winters make the northwest swells of the ocean favorable. However, all the surfing spots are in remote areas, so you’ll be needingneed a private boat. The island’s terrain can get rough and rugged;, therefore, it’s best for a professional guide to accompany youto travel with a professional guide.

4. San Miguel Island:

San Miguel Island isA a gorgeous island located towards the westernmost part of California, San Miguel Island . It is a magical place to spend a camping night at. Although, it’s hard to get to, the island hosts nearly 200 lucky families for an unforgettable camp night. Just Southwest of Santa Barbara and a little further away from Point Conception, San Miguel Island is a quiet, stunning, and relaxing retreat for families.

Island Packers offers exclusive concessions for all boat riders heading to the island. Although, most areas are restricted to protect wildlife and fragile foliage, there are many spectacular hiking opportunities. Explore the stunning 2-mile long Cuyler Harbor Beach, which is a beautiful spot with towering cliffs and breath-taking rock formations. Don’t forget to visit the Prince Island, on your way, whichas it is the only remarkable harbor around the northern tier.

Stop over at Point Bennet towards the extreme western end, and enjoy some of the rarest sights. You will get to of see sea lions, seals, and more species of pinnipeds than anywhere else in the world. The island is beautifully carved over the ocean, making for an enrapturing aerial view. Lighted with a whistle buoy that is visible for 4 miles, visitors can easily navigate their way on the island.

Other famous attractions are Nidever Canyon, the Lester Ranch site, and the Cabrillo Monument. However, what you should anticipate the most is the caliche forest. Surrounded by mysticism, the forest comprises consists of rows of calcium-carbonate casts that were once fine green trees.

5. Santa Rosa Island:

This island lies just beyond the Point Conception;, hence, it enjoys coastal weather during most times of the year. Visitors can expect foggy, chilly days even when it’s summer. while w Winds are likely to get high in the evening. The typical landing at Santa Rosa takes place through a pier at Beacher’s Bay.

Stretching 84 square miles, Santa Rosa Island is the second largest in the Channel Island Archipelago. Known for two of the most mesmerizing peaks – the 396-m high Black Mountain running 396m high and the 48-m high Soledad peak—, Santa Rosa Island is nothing short of a wonderland.

Most of the landscape is covered by rolling hills, dramatic and steep canyons like the Water Canyon, and white sandy beaches. There are many exciting trails and roads for adventurous hikers. During the summer, if you’re lucky enough, you can also spot Humpback and Blue Whales near the coast. The island offers a guided hike on the Cherry Canyon trail, which is ranked as moderate. If you’re taking the longer loop trail, which is a 7.5 mile -long, strenuous route, the hike ascends to the top of the grove, leading to spectacular views of the entire island.

6. Santa Barbara Island:

Santa Barbara Island is Tthe smallest and the only southern island in the park. It , Santa Barbara Island has is the smallest of all yet the one with the most beautiful wildlife.. Located 55 miles from the Ventura County, the longer route offers a wonderful chance to catch chirpy seabirds, whales, and dolphins.

Beware, though, the island doesn’t have shade trees or potable water, so make sure you come with an ample supply of both. The island is fairly isolated, which has made it an ideal breeding ground for sea lions and seals. The island may be small, but it’s thriving with native flora like the spring wildflower bloom, which is a radiant and colorful sight for visitors. The island is also known for its highest peak, the Signal Hill – a city situated at the top of a hill.

Island Packers offer a day trip that begins fromat 8 am. Upon reaching the island and encountering flourishing wildlife, a Park naturalist volunteer conducts an orientation at the visitor’s center. After this, you can explore all the natural trails that run five-mile long from the center. Stay on the lookout for Elephant Seal Cove and Webster Point as you hike up the island. Both the points offer amazing marine vistas, giving you a chance to admire sea lions and seals.

Don’t forget to drop by at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum for interesting exhibits, and fun learning sessions on oceanic life!

7. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary:

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary – owing to its incredible diversity and thriving wildlife— - is famously referred to as the “Galapagos of the Northern Hemisphere”. It currently protects over 14,00 square miles of the pristine ocean engulfing the Northern Channel Islands. Located off the Pacific Coast, close to Santa Barbara, the official sanctuary program is regulated by the Natural Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Here you will find sensitive habitats, endangered species, plenty of cultural resources and shipwrecks, to study and admire. The sanctuary preserves the marine wildlife through education, research, stewardship, and conservation.

8. Whale-watching:

With islands that are surrounded by blue, it goes without question that whale-watching is a beloved pursuit at Channel Islands. You can have a look at their official website to catch their guided whale-watching tours. Spotting a Blue whale in the ocean might just be the most memorable part of your oceanic tour.

The ever-changing ocean conditions bring up a lot of nutrient-rich water that has a a greater wealth of food for marine life. This is one reason why you’re likely to spot Gray whales, Orcas, and Finback whales in the pristine waters of this sanctuary. You will also find long-running pods of dolphins, sea lions, and seals, including many, many endangered birds along the coasts of Channel Islands National Park.

Forming a chain of eight glorious islands, the Channel Islands National Park is one of the best places to visit this summer. Let’s move on to the most comfortable lodgings to stay inat with your family near the island.


Best Lodgings

There are many places aAround the Channel Islands National Park, there are many places offeringthat offer comfortable accommodations, scenic views, and impressive amenities, allowing you to enjoy a memorable trip. Let’s get to know some!

1. Amanzi Hotel:

Placing you at a 10-minute stroll from of all the popular spots around Channel Islands National Park, Amanzi Hotel is a great option for families willing to spend more than a week here. With spacious suites and bedrooms, free breakfast and Wi-Fi, and an outdoor pool, you might just want to vacation at the hotel only!

The place serves an excellent fine dining experience, and 119 air-conditioned rooms with coffee makers, refrigerators, and microwaves. You can also enjoy your favorite TV Sshows while you wait to catch a boat ride to the national park.

2. Vagabond Inn Oxnard:

Located within 2 miles of Carnegie Art Museum, this hotel is quite near to the Chandler Vintage Museum of Transportation and Wildlife. A 70-room hotel with modern conveniences, an outdoor pool, and free breakfast and Wi-Fi, Vagabond Inn Oxnard is your next best option.

3. Motel 6 Ventura Beach:

Motel 6 Ventura Beach is located in Pierpont Bay, just 2 miles from all the popular attractions you’d like to see in the city like Ventura Harbor and Ventura Pier. This hotel is known for offering a breath-taking view of the coastal areas. The 200-room motel offers a range of free services, including self-parking, and delicious cuisine during your stay here.

4. Ventura Beach Marriott:

Another famous place to crash in is the Ventura Beach Marriott. Located in Peirpont Bay, the hotel is near Motel 6 Ventura Beach. This one stands out for its picturesque beachside views, beautiful interior and five-star amenities during your stay. An easy boat ride away from Channel Islands National Park, the hotel is budget-friendly for both families and solo -travelers.

5. Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach:

Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach is located in a central, scenic place. The Ventura Pier, for example, is only a 5- minutes away. with oOther popular spots, like Mission San Buenaventura, are only ais a short stroll away. The 235-room hotel welcomes its guests with fine dining, free breakfasts, a 24-hour fitness center, and an arcade room for tourists and travelers. Enjoy your stay here as you venture out every day to explore the Channel Islands National Park.



Safety Travelling Tips

As much as you would like to enjoy your trip toat the Channel Islands National Park, it’s important to follow these tips to ensure both you and your family stay safe and sound.

Always Check the Weather Before You Go:

All the islands enjoy high winds and a chilly coastal weather throughout the year. Therefore, it’s important to check the weather forecast as the beachside can get unpredictable. You don’t want to encounter a stormy evening as you prepare for camping.

Food and Water:

You might not find potable water in most areas of the island;, therefore, always get an ample supply before you start your journey. You can also get water bottles from the visitor center. A service by the name of Channel Island Provisioners is also a great option if you want to enjoy some fine dining at the islands. The head chef will drop off your meals before you depart. Make sure, you have a good supply of fruits, snacks, and satiating meals before you start your journeysetting off to the national park. The island can definitely get dry and hot, requiring you to hydrate yourself constantly.

Hiking Gear:

Both Santa Cruz and Anacapa don’t have trees for shade, which is why it’s extremely important to bring along sun-protection. Wear hats, sunshades and, sunscreen, and make sure your clothing is long and protected. Your hiking shoes should be stout, tough, and built to stand the difficult trails of the national park.

Swimming:

If you’re up for some swimming or snorkeling in the alcoves, make sure to pack your swim suits, and snorkel equipments beforehand. The island doesn’t have manyuch services that provide swimwear. Since the seashore is rocky, it’s important to wear water shoes that don’t stick.



Parting Words

The Channel Islands National Park is a collection of some of the most breath-taking and picturesque vistas. Anyone who has dreamed about a house by the beach will love this place. Stop by at each island and savor the salty air of the stunning seashore. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to see thecatch dolphins, orcas, and sea-lions in their best habitat. So what are you waiting for? With so much to offer, Iit’s time to pack your bags and head out for an oceanic retreat!

Safe Travels!