Anacapa Island is five miles long and the closest island to the mainland. It is made up of small islets with towering sea cliffs, sea caves, and stunning rock formations like Arch Rock, a 40-foot high natural bridge. The trails on Anacapa are an easy short stroll that allows visitors to experience the island’s native vegetation, wildlife, and cultural history. The island’s beauty is most obvious each spring after winter rains transform the landscape with vivid colors. Yellow coreopsis, red paintbrush, island morning glory, and pale buckwheat, bring a colorful palette to the island’s plateaus.
Anacapa Island is also home to thousands of nesting seabirds who enjoy the lack of predators on the island. In fact, the islets of Anacapa are home to the largest breeding colony of western gulls in the world and can be seen arriving on the island to build their nests in April, often inches from hiking trails. Chicks hatch in late spring giving visitors a chance to admire their fluffy wings before flying away in July. Large colonies of endangered California brown pelicans can also be spotted on the island. The islets’ shores are also resting and breeding areas of choice for playful California sea lions and harbor seals. They show off their barks to visitors observing from Cathedral Cove and Pinniped Point. The rich kelp forests in the waters surrounding Anacapa Island also attract lots of other marine life providing visitors the opportunity to meet them up close.
Shell remnants atop the hills of Anacapa Island also indicate a rich human history when Chumash peoples settled on the island thousands of years ago. More recently, a light station was built on the island in 1932 complete with a lighthouse, fog signal building, keeper’s quarters, a water tank building, and other mission revival style buildings that can be viewed by visitors.