One of five islands that make up the Channel Islands off the coast of Central California, Anacapa, is a small volcanic island about 14 miles off the shores of Oxnard. Named by the Chumash Native American Indians, the Channel Islands are five miles long and made up of 3 islets (East, Middle and West) that are not inaccessible to each other except by boat.
Shells not native to the island prove that the Chumash people camped on the island thousand of years ago. Sea cliffs, natural bridges and sea caves make stunningly beautiful Anacapa a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of city life that is mere miles away. [img_assist|nid=1147|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=188]
Island Packer Tours offers daily departures to the islands. After an hour long boat ride, climb up the spiral stairs, and you are free to walk the designated paths around the island or head to one of the designated camp sites.
Leave nothing but footprints, take only photos it the islands’ motto, as they are dedicated to the preservation of the island and its inhabitants. One of the most noticeable landmarks is the now-deserted lighthouse. Built in 1932, the lighthouse was inspired by the wreck of the S.S. Winfield Scott in 1853 on a sullen and foggy night.
What’s left of the wreck is now part of the Channel Islands National Park. Divers can make out some hull planks and what’s left of the paddle wheel. Head to the visitors’ center and learn about the history of the island and its wildlife. A picnic area out front is a perfect meeting spot or rest area. Other ways to see the sights of Anacapa include snorkeling, diving, kayaking and multi-island tours.
Starting around New Years, the Western Gull starts taking over the island. All the islets are home to the largest breeding colony of Western Gulls in the world. West Anacapa is home to the endangered California Brown Pelicans. By May, the cliffs and hillsides are dotted with white feathery puffs. Each dot is an adult gull (parents share the responsibility of nesting) protecting and sheltering two to three eggs. Out of every three hatched, only one little chick will survive. Even with these numbers, the birds thrive and flourish. From when they hatch to six weeks later, the chicks will be the same size as their parents.
The rocky shores are perfect playgrounds for sea lions and harbor seals. As they play, frolic and bark on the coast you feel an intense bond with nature. If you happen to explore the islands during the months from January to March, you can catch the migration of the pacific gray whale. The Channel Islands share similar flora and fauna to the Galapagos Islands off of the coast of Ecuador. Both exist in isolation and evolution proceeds independently.
What & Where:
Island Packers (Channel Islands Harbor, 3600 Harbor Dr; 805-642-1393)
Tips for visiting the island:
1. Call Island Packers in the morning before your tour to make sure everything is running smoothly. Bad weather or unsafe sea conditions may cause cancellations.
2. Dress comfortably in clothes suitable for outdoor activity. Dress in layers, as the boat ride can be a little chilly.
3. Pack a lunch, snacks and beverages. The island does not have snack bars or running water.