Visit Anacapa Island in the springtime to see one of Channel Islands National Park's most brilliant wildflower displays. See marine mammals up close and explore more than 100 sea caves by kayaking along the rugged California coastline.
Anacapa Island is the most visited of the Channel Islands because of its proximity to the mainland. It's only 13 miles from shore, five miles east of Santa Cruz Island. The boat trip from Ventura takes about an hour.
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This 'island' is really a chain of three rocky islets: East, Middle, and West Islands. It is second to Santa Barbara Island as the smallest in the park (find it on the map).
As you approach the island, you'll see the famous Arch Rock. A 40-foot natural bridge and symbol of the Channel Islands National Park.
Visitors are only allowed ashore on East Anacapa. Most of this island is protected as an important natural habitat for many rare seabirds, marine mammals and endemic species.
West Anacapa is home to the largest breeding colony of California Brown Pelicans in the United States.
There are no beaches here. This is an eroded volcanic island, with magnificent sea caves and towering cliff shores.
� Doug Mangum
The rich kelp forests surrounding the island make it one of the best places in the world for snorkeling and SCUBA diving.
There are 130 sea caves around the island to explore by kayak. Because it's not as windy here as it can be on other islands, this is a world-class destination for ocean kayaking!
Waters off the the entire north shore of the island are protected. Fishing is only allowed off the southern coast. No net or trap is allowed in waters less than 20 feet deep.
Visitors may go tidepooling at Frenchy's Cove when the tide is low November through March. This cove is accessible by boat only.
Here's an interesting bit of history...
Frenchy's Cove gets its name from a French fisherman who lived overlooking the cove from 1928 - 1956. Even though Anacapa Island became part of the Channel Islands National Monument in 1938, Frenchy was allowed to stay on as caretaker for as long as he wished.
During Prohibition, Frenchy made money by watching over stockpiles of moonshine hidden in the sea caves. Frenchy was 80 years old when he fell, severely injuring himself, and was forced to leave the island.
Hikers and campers are allowed ashore only on East Anacapa Island. Visits to Middle Anacapa are possible by permit only when accompanied by a park ranger. Call (805) 658-5711 for permit information.
Hikers should be in good physical condition. Access to this volcanic island is 200 feet up the side of a cliff! Once you've climbed to the top, hiking is easy. There are just 1.5 miles of gently-sloping trails on this island. And the scenery is spectacular!
If you hike on Anacapa Island from late January through March, you'll see one of the most brilliant wildflower displays in the Channel Islands. Download this hiking guide, which contains a map and some important safety information.
Baby chicks hatch in May and fly away in July. If you visit here then, be careful where you step! Western Gulls sometimes nest just inches away from island trails.
Inspiration Point reveals an extraordinary view down the length of the island with Santa Cruz Island in the background. It's one of the most photographed sites in the park.
� Robert English
Pinniped Point and Cathedral Cove are great places to observe seals and sea lions in their natural habitat.
And then, there's the historic Lighthouse...
Between 1850 and 1900, at least 33 vessels were shipwrecked in the Santa Barbara Channel. For more information on these shipwrecks, visit the Channel Islands shipwreck database. Finally, in 1911 a temporary beacon was constructed.
� Doug Mangum
Ships continued to run aground, so in 1932 a permanent structure was built. This was the last permanent lighthouse built on the west coast. The lighthouse and fog signal are still in use, operated by the US Coast Guard.
Although you may explore the area around the lighthouse, visitors are not permitted inside.
� Robert English
Most of the other buildings you'll see on the island were also constructed in 1932. The large church-like building protects two redwood water tanks. It was designed to look like a church to deter vandals from shooting holes in the water tanks.
� Doug Mangum
If you ever wanted to camp out on a deserted Island, this is the place!
Anacapa Island campground is at the top of 154 steps and down a half-mile trail. The campsites are on an exposed coastal meadow, above the Landing Dock.
There are 7 campsites available on this island. It costs $15 per night to camp in the National Park and the minimum stay is 3 days (Friday - Sunday).
AFTER making your transportation arrangements, reserve your campsite online or call 877-444-6777 toll free.
Be prepared for adverse conditions. The weather can be hot and sunny or foggy and damp. Campers should bring supplies for an extra day, in case ocean conditions prevent boats from picking you up.
This island habitat was once plagued by non-native black rats, which arrived via shipwreck. These predatory rats attacked sea bird nests, eating eggs and killing young chicks.
Since the eradication of these rats, sea bird and reptile populations are recovering. Learn more about the restoration of Anacapa Island from this Channel Islands video.
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