Mama seagulls look up at you from their perch on the green-gray speckled eggs of their lazy nests of matted dry grass among the brambles and blooms beside the walking trail. They seem less aggressive than you’d think, almost more curious at the interlopers who have landed on their isolated island retreat. It almost seems as if they liked you to rest them a spell and tend the eggs so they can fly off to find a snack. What strikes you about Anacapa Island in late spring is the pristine desolateness. The pureness of nature just within distant sight of the California Coast
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of five volcanic rock islands which stretch along the Southern California coast from Oxnard to Santa Barbara, forming the Channel Islands National Park. Anacapa Island, is the nearest to shore, the smallest and easiest to visit about 14 miles from the coast of Ventura. Regular cruises to the island are provided by the Island Packers cruise company based in Oxnard at the Channel Islands Harbor.
A three hour tour to the island begins with a journey by boat from the harbor past the sailing sloops and stacked colorful kayaks awaiting the afternoons sport, dodging massive freight ships plying the channel waters on their way north to San Francisco or south to Long Beach, off-shore oil platforms in the distance, like hives of metal weeds sprouting from a smooth waveless ocean, the occasional nose of a curious harbor seal, brief flashes of frolicking dolphins gliding through the current, with a eye out for a fluke of a migrating gray whale. Its a little late in the season for the annual migration, but soon the mighty giant blue whale will be feeding in the deep shelf beds, so there is always a chance you might spot one. Motoring around the Arch Rock forty foot high needle eye rising from the sea which is the signature of Anacapa Island’s southern tip, you arrive at the deep rock cove of the boat landing to climb the steep steps to the top of a cliff. The steps had recently to be refurbished from the wear of seas and rust of time, but are now renewed new and secure again.
On the island, the only signs of civilization are a small park Visitor Center, a few picnic tables and outhouse style bathrooms and the Anacapa Lighthouse, (the old giant Fresnel lens can be seen the in the visitor's center) with a few buildings once used by the coast guard, the rest is open nature surrounded in all directions by vista views of the sea. The island is virtually ringed by 200 foot cliffs to the ocean below, with the ladder of the landing harbor the only way to reach the water.
There is no walking along the beach on Anacapa, and no shade trees, just California desert chaparral secluded and separated from the mainland by sea, untouched for millions of years. Not even Native American settlements. The Indians fished along the shores by never bothered to try to live here, as there is no natural potable water. Just you, the seagulls and pelicans, and from about late February to the end of April, a rainbow of color provided by a rich mix of native wildflowers, turning to the golden grasses of the long days of warm summer, when the sunflowers and Buckwheat bloom. You have a few hours to explore another world, like a visit to a distant planet, before the inevitable return to the bustle-hustle of modern life.
The cruise to the island can be taken throughout the year with each season offering a different view of the cycles of life on the shore islands. It is possible to camp on Anacapa Island, but you must bring everything you need with you and cart away all your trash when you go. To camp you must make a reservation with the National Park Service. In addition to day cruise excursions to Anacapa Island, the Island Packers offer whale watching cruises from Oxnard. California Gray Whales migrate from late December until March and Pacific Blue Whales appear in the food rich seas off the island channel in the summer months. Nature shore cruises of the islands and sunset dinner cruises of the Channel Islands Harbor are also offered by Island Packers. © Bargain Travel West
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