During one of the longish weekends late 2019, we made an impromptu drive down to Santa Barbara. The plan was to rest the night, and then drive onwards to Oxnard to reach the Channel Islands. I decided to just grab my trusty old Nikon FM2 with a couple of rolls of Kodak Gold 200 film, and relied completely on the iPhone for all things digital. The 5-6 hour drive was uneventful, save for the beautiful sunset. We got off the freeway to take some pictures.
The Channel Islands consists of 8 islands, but only 5 islands are part of the Channel Islands National Park: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. At roughly 699 acres, Anacapa is the smallest of Channel Islands. It is just made up of 3 small islets. Boats usually travel only to East Anacapa, but I have heard that they arrange special trips to West Anacapa. Boats to reach Anacapa leave from Oxnard, and boats to the other 4 islands leave from Ventura. The boat ride took about an hour, and we spotted many dolphins which swam up our boat to catch the current. As the dolphins kept everyone on the boat busy, a faint outline of the island appeared in the far distance. One hour went by quickly.
The boat docked in a cove. We disembarked and climbed about 150 steps to reach the top of the island. Everyone was busy clicking pictures of a Seagull right at the top of the stairs, thus crowding the entrance. It was funny though because if anyone had cared to turn around, there were birds, EVERYWHERE. And there was bird poop too, EVERYWHERE.
Thousands of seabirds use these islands as a nesting area, and they thrive due to the relative lack of predators. The steep cliffs of West Anacapa are home to the largest breeding colony of endangered California brown pelicans, all the islets of Anacapa host the largest breeding colony of western gulls in the world.
With only about 2 miles of trails, and 5 hours until the boat left, we walked around the island and spent plenty of time at each spot. The National Park visitor center had some exhibits, and there were some picnic tables with wind-dials right outside to keep the birds away.
We started walking on the trail and stopped at the Cathedral Cove viewpoint on the north side of the island (the featured image) from where we could spot some sea lions. The next stop was probably the best viewpoint at Anacapa islands called Inspiration point. Sadly, the 50mm f/1.8 E-series lens I was carrying on my Nikon FM2 was not up to the task of capturing that view. The iPhone clicketh away.
After a couple of short stops to look at old buildings, we returned to the visitor center. About a quarter mile from the visitor center is the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed to the public due to the Foghorn which could cause permanent hearing loss. The birds did not seem to care and there were plenty of nests close to the lighthouse and on the trail.
The harsh sun, the stench and the extra time we had to spend on the island irked a couple of people in the group. It seemed like time passed at a much slower rate here. When they finally announced the boat departing, there were happy faces all around. Anacapa is not the fanciest of the Islands, but the size of the island makes for a nice day trip. While I enjoyed the day, it is definitely a one-time-visit kind of place. I do not need to go back.
Thanks for reading.