The Channel Islands, Anacapa Island

A boat ride to Anacapa Island is a great experience for wildlife lovers.  We left from Ventura Beach and saw a humpback whale and sea lions during the one-hour trip.  On the way back, our boat was surrounded by dolphins! 

Anacapa is one of five islands open to the public.  It offers outstanding views of the other islands and there is a working light house at one end.  From the cliffs, you can observe the surrounding kelp forests and watch sea lions on the beaches below or lounging on rocks.  There are no trees on the island.  There is an interesting succulent ground cover that was blooming a pink-purple.

We were on the island for about 3 hours, which was a good amount of time.  It is a small island and the trails are only about two miles long.  The main attraction is nesting birds.  From a distance, the island seems overtaken by noisy soccer balls, but it is hundreds, if not thousands, of Western Gulls.  These are the familiar gulls that have a dark gray back, impeccable white body and a yellow beak dotted with red.  They make a remarkable range of sounds from the familiar laugh to coos to a mewing sound.  They don't seem to mind the people passing by and barely react.  The strangest thing was watching a few juvenile birds bugging the adults for food.  These birds seem to be slightly larger than the adults, but are a speckled gray.  They can fly, but seem to prefer hand-outs, i.e. regurgitated fish from others.

There are many brown pelicans, as well, but they stay well away from people.

The only swimming is from the dock where the boat comes in.  Several people snorkeled in the kelp forest.  There is no shade or food service on the island.  Pit toilets only.  The island is "resplendent" with bird guano (poop), which has a strong smell.  There are also bird bones, lots of feathers and the occasional chick carcass, as well.  This is raw nature, so be prepared.

The fare was $60 roundtrip per person.  Island Packers offers several trips to the Channel Islands.  There are two piers, one in Ventura Beach and one in Oxnard.  The boat ride was very pleasant, but it is very open, so a jacket is a good idea.  There are snacks and restrooms on the boat.



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