One of Ventura's most wondrous attractions lies 14 miles out to sea. Channel Islands National Park, established by Congress in 1980, comprises five of the eight Channel Islands off the Southern California coast: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and, so far away it is rarely visible from the mainland, Santa Barbara Island. In addition, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the area within six nautical miles of the islands; managed jointly by the National Park Service and the National Marine Sanctuary.
The Channel Islands are accessible for day trips or a multi-day camping experience. The boat ride out to the islands can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in itself, since travelers are often treated to sights of surfing dolphins and spouting whales. Once visitors reach the islands, recreational options abound, including hiking, camping, sailing, boating, diving, snorkeling, surfing, and kayaking. Each island's network of nature trails showcases its particular flora and fauna, and long stretches of white sand remain unspoiled.
Anacapa, just 14 miles from Ventura Harbor, is the most accessible and therefore most visited island. It's a great choice for a first visit. Both Anacapa and Santa Cruz, the largest island in the chain, offer excellent kayaking, snorkeling and diving near sea caves, hidden coves, and rocky reefs. Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands lie farther away and are excellent choices for more remote wilderness experiences, especially if you can spend several days camping and exploring.
Island Packers (1867 Spinnaker Drive) is the Ventura area's official concessionaire for the national park. They provide daily boat transportation to Anacapa Island and frequent trips to East Santa Cruz Island year-round, as well as trips to Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands from April through November. For recorded information call 642-7688; for reservations call 642-1393. Visitors can also fly from Camarillo to Santa Rosa Island with Channel Islands Aviation, 987-1301. Much of Santa Cruz Island is privately owned by The Nature Conservancy. For information on limited access to the private portions of this island, call 962-9111.
This magnificent nature preserve is often referred to as the "American Galapagos" because it is home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals-145 of which are unique to the islands and found nowhere else on earth. Experts as well as tourists from around the world visit the islands to observe nature in its most spectacular form. The waters of the Channel are also teeming with life, including dolphins, whales, seals, and thousands of sea birds.
Credit / Author: National Park Service and Aperture Films
Date Created: 2011-03-22
Narrated by Kevin Costner