4 Channel Islands National Park Adventures
(Photos: Channel Islands National Park / Facebook)
Channel Islands National Park shelters a remote and utterly magical ocean sanctuary. It protects a wide array of animals and plants at a stunning level of biodiversity that cannot be found elsewhere. There are five Channel Islands that make up the national park: Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel Islands. Most Californians forget about these islands off the coast, each beautiful and unique in their own way, and all within a short boat ride through the Channel.
The islands offer a fun escape from busy urban life, and are full of scenic hikes. There are a ton of fun activities that the islands offer, from kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, boating, and tide pooling, to bird, whale, seal, and sea lion watching. And, of course, they are perfect for backcountry camping and picnicking. Here are four outdoor adventures perfect for the Islands.
Boat Ride to Anacapa Island
Anacapa Island is the easiest to reach, and only an hour-long boat ride away from the mainland. Although it’s the closest Island, getting there is still an amazing experience, mainly because of the high chances of marine wildlife sightings (especially dolphins). Once on the Island, be sure to make your way towards the west coast’s oldest operating lighthouse, the Anacapa Island Light Station, which has been on since 1932. It’s also always fun to sit back and bird watch -- the islands support one of the largest breeding colonies of seabirds on the west coast.
Hikes on Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is California’s largest island and the most visited of the Channel Islands. It usually has fantastic weather, and always has stunning landscapes. An abundance of wildlife fills its deep valleys, springs, peaks, and beautiful stretches of beach. Hiking is very popular on Santa Cruz, since it is littered with stunning view points and rugged trails. Don't worry, there are trails for all skill levels. The 4.5-mile Scorpion Canyon Loop trail is always a good place to start, allowing for more casual hiking on maintained trails.
Camping on Santa Cruz
Camping is available year round on all five islands in the National Park, but Santa Cruz’s amazing weather and views make it a top pick. The established campground on Santa Cruz is Scorpion Ranch, which also happens to be one of the best developed. Advanced reservations are required, so make sure to plan ahead. Make sure to check out Cavern Point overlook while you’re there!
Perhaps the most notable of all activites on the islands, cave kayaking offers visitors a chance to explore a entirely new world. The many coves at Santa Cruz Island make it the most popular destination for sea kayaking. Some of the best wildlife views can be found in and around these caves, which are home to seals, sea lions, kelp communities, and exotic seabirds of all kinds. Find a good guide for the day and enjoy what may be one of the best experiences of your life!