- Karla Gadea
Channel Islands National Park has a variety of recreational opportunities and a relaxing break from the congestion and busyness of urban life. The park encompasses five islands and their surrounding one mile of the ocean. The park covers 249,561 acres! More than 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world! Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal on earth.
Channel Islands National Park offers a wide variety of recreation activities, kayaking through the Sea Caves being one of the most popular. Day hiking, scuba diving, and spearfishing are among the activities available to visitors. The Channel Islands National Park is renowned for its large number of complex, beautiful Sea Caves. Based on ocean conditions and ferry availability, Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is the most visited area in the park for day and camping visitors. It is recommended that inexperienced visitors use caution when visiting the national park due to changing ocean conditions in this unique ecosystem. The National Park Service authorizes a small number of guide and outfitter services.
Season: Autumn is an excellent time to travel to the park, as well as for diving, as the days are usually sunny, with minimal winds and clear ocean water.
Santa Cruz Island: pristine nature reserve is one of SoCal’s best kept secrets. As California’s largest island, Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands is the perfect little getaway from Los Angeles.
Potato Harbor Trail: To Potato Harbor Overlook is 4.5 miles roundtrip with very easy terrain and only 600 feet of elevation gain. The well-marked trail starts at Scorpion Campground. Potato Harbor is one of the prettiest anchorages on Santa Cruz. Maybe the prettiest. We’re compelled by the grandeur of the cliffs to sail in almost every time we’re in the neighborhood, yet we rarely get to drop the hook in there.
Sea Caves at Santa Cruz Island: One of the largest and deepest sea caves in the world, Painted Cave, is found on the northwest coastline of Santa Cruz. Named because of its colorful rock types, lichens, and algae, Painted Cave is nearly a quarter mile long and 100 feet wide, with an entrance ceiling of 160 feet and a waterfall over the entrance in the spring.
These varied landforms support more than 600 plant species in 10 different plant communities, from marshes and grasslands to chaparral and pine forests. There are 140 landbird and 11 land mammal species; three amphibian and five reptile species; large colonies of nesting seabirds, breeding seals, and sea lions; and other diverse marine animals and plants. Owing to millions of years of isolation, many distinctive plant and animals species have adapted to the island’s unique environment, including the island scrub-jay and eight plant species found only on Santa Cruz and nowhere else in the world.
Anacapa Island: Anacapa has three islets which look like an island of deception or a mirage. Almost five miles long, these islets (appropriately named East, Middle, and West Anacapa Islands) are inaccessible from each other except by boat. They have a total land area of about one square mile (700 acres). Waves have eroded the volcanic island, creating towering sea cliffs, sea caves, and natural bridges, such as forty-foot-high Arch Rock-a symbol of Anacapa and Channel Islands National Park.
Kelp Forest in Anacapa Island: Kelp forests of the Channel Islands experience both warm water currents from the South and cold water currents from the North. This mixing of currents creates a highly productive system and a diversity of organisms that is only found over a much greater area of the California coast. Some examples of warmer water species include Garibaldi, moray eels, and the spiny lobster. Examples of colder water organisms include black rockfish, and the sunflower star. Kelp forests are true forests providing shelter and food for over 1,000 species of animals and plants that live within them.
How long should I stay? 4-5 days
Hiking, Snorkeling, Fishing, Swimming, Nature Walks, Beach, Caves
Additional Logding Options
Best Western Beachside Inn (336 W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101)
Phone: (805) 965-6556
Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara (121 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101)
Phone: (805) 966-6586
West Beach Inn (306 W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101)
Phone: (805) 963-4277