These islands off the coast of California are home to one of the most unique national parks in America.
Just off the coast of Southern California along the Santa Barbara Channel are a chain of eight islands called the Channel Islands. The islands are home to Channel Islands National Park, which has been called the ‘Galapagos Islands of North America.’ It is one of the most unique national parks in America, yet many people don’t know about it. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of California, Channel Islands National Park is a perfect backdrop for quiet, uninterrupted time with family and friends.
Outdoor adventure is readily available, including hiking, camping, snorkeling, birdwatching or simply taking in the natural beauty that surrounds these pristine islands. The five islands in the chain make up the Marine Sanctuary where rare animals, plants and archaeological resources can be found.
Kayakers can paddle through sea caves on both Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island, allowing for an amazing sea experience. And those who opt for snorkeling or diving will encounter the Park’s rich kelp forests with its deep blue, clear waters and incredible visibility.
We wanted to learn more about Channel Islands National Park, so we went to the local experts with our questions. Here’s what they had to say.
Q: FIRST OFF, WHERE ARE THE CHANNEL ISLANDS?
A: The Channel Islands National Park consists of five islands that span 160 miles off the coast of southern California. The islands are just 11 miles offshore from Oxnard, California.
Q: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO REACH THE CHANNEL ISLANDS?
A: The best way is to go by boat. The official concessionaire for Channel Islands National Park is Island Packers. They run daily trips to all five islands.
Q: WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS?
A: Visitors will see all types of plant and sea life. They can hike, kayak through the caves, snorkel or just take in the amazing beauty. There are also two whale watching seasons – the Pacific Gray Whales are seen from December 26 through mid April and the Blue Whales come starting June through September.
Q: WHAT’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT?
A: Trips are offered all year long. The whale watching seasons are a good time to go out. And, if rainfall is good during the year, the spring is a great time to see wildflowers, such as the Coreopsis that bloom on Anacapa Island.
Q: WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THE REGION?
A: They may not know about the offshore islands themselves, in addition to the fact that Oxnard is a coastal city and has some amazing beaches and beautiful shoreline. There are many opportunities for water activities within the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, including kayaking, jet skis, electric boats and more. Plus, great restaurants, museums and rich agricultural land.
Another fun fact? The Channel Islands are home to the oldest dated human remains in North America. The remains of Arlington Springs Man were discovered here (13,000 BP).