Your Channel Islands Crib Notes

Kayaking around the islands

By Visit Ventura

We said we’d keep it short, so we will. There’s no place in the world like Channel Islands National Park.

Five islands. A wondrous world where housecat-size foxes scamper through fields of Seuss-like flowers, and moon and sun shine down on, well, nothing. A world-class outdoor escape, with remote camping, hiking, sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and bird-watching. Happier still, they are also one of America’s least visited National Parks. Island Packers will take you there; the closest islands are only an hour boat ride away. Oh, right. On the ride out, you might see anything (and sometimes everything) from pods of dolphins (sometimes in the hundreds), to, depending on the time of year, Humpback, Gray, or Blue Whales (and sometimes even Orcas).

Here a place where you can stand among dun-colored grasses beneath a wide sky, looking across dark blue water to the silent mainland. A place where poppies bob in the wind, and miniature oaks turn gold in the last gloaming light, and grasses flow up to empty summits as if hurrying to catch the view. A place where birds wheel and shriek, and waves thump against empty shores.

Everyone should have a place like this. Including you.

You can do your own digging here, but here’s what you need to know about the five park islands in a crib notes nutshell.

Anacapa Island Lighthouse
Photo by Dan Harding

One square mile. One light house. One breathtaking place to watch the sunset. Aptly named Inspiration Point.

Santa Cruz Island

The biggest of the Channel Islands. The biggest island off the coast of California. The biggest chance of seeing an island fox, found nowhere else in the world. Your biggest chance to kayak inside a mammoth sea cave.

Santa Barbara Island snorkeling

Thirty-eight miles off the coast of L.A. And hundreds of years away. One square mile of glorious nothing. You could have this one to yourself.

San Miguel Island overlook

Wild. Windswept. One of the largest wildlife gatherings on the planet (that would be pinnipeds). Some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find. Anywhere.

Santa Rosa Ilsand

Lobo Canyon is beautiful beyond words. And the seascape at its end is even better. The night stars will make your head spin.