A boat ride out 11 miles or so to Anacapa Island can be a lot of fun but only if the channel is calm. Pick a calm day and head over to the island where you will spend the day hiking and taking pictures.
Make sure you bring a lunch and plenty of water as there are no concessions there. What you pack in is what you pack out. Take all trash with you. A hat and sunscreen, believe me you'll want the hat especially when the seagulls take off and fly!
On the boat look for dolphins who like to ride the wake in front of the boat. If you take a trip In February or March that is a great time to whale watch.
Back on land look and see if you can see the arch. Most folk from this area know if you can see the arch then the channel is calm.
Orignally we were going to do the guided tour of the sea caves. But since we were flying on a pass and didn't know exactly when we would get in, I hesitated to make a reservation in advance because there were no refunds. By the time I landed in Los Angelos (it took us four flights to get there from Miami), there were no spots left to do the guided tours.
The National Park information said that sea kayaking should not be attempted by novice or first time kayakers or anyone who is not properly experienced, trained, conditioned and equipped. Our friends had never kayaked before and I didn't regard myself as any kind of expert.
It also said that visitors could kayak on their own and that the park concessionaires, will transport kayaks on their public trips for an extra fee. The concessionaires offer year-round transportation to the islands for day visits and camping trips.
We rented two $55.00 (Double Kayaks) from the rental center right next to Island Packers (805-642-1393) and the rental included life vest and helmet. You have to make the boat reservation first and then rent the kayaks. We had to be there at 7 a.m. to load the boats.
We kayaked through the kelp beds - the weather was calm and nice. After lunch we had a hike on the island. On the way back a whale watching boat picked us up and we saw an enormous school of dolphins
Start your visit at the visitors center located in Ventura near the harbor. Here you can visit a small museum and get maps of the park, informative brochures and ask the rangers any questions you may have. There are also visitors centers, on Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands. Hours for the visitors center in Ventura are: 8:30 AM to 5 PM daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Inside the visitors center in Ventura there is a nice little museum with displays about the islands and the plants and animals that live there. There is also a tide pool with living animals, relief maps and photos of the islands, and information on the history of the area.
Just outside the visitors center is a flight of stairs leading up to an observation tower where you can look out over the harbor and on a clear day, get a view of the islands. There are telescopes there too for a better view.
Anacapa Island is the smallest and closest to shore. The interior of the island is the most rugged, since the island was the result of a volcanic plug that occassional released lava flows that slowly piled up to produce the three islands comprising the single titled Anacapa. Depending on he season, the island may be taken over by nesting seagulls
The water here is cold... about 65 degrees farenhiet, so if you decide to go snorkeling, it is best to wear a wetsuit, although I did see people snorkeling without a wetsuit, if you are tough I suppose you could. Im a sissy.
There a great Kelp forests to snorkel through and a lot of times there is a small seal that hangs out in the kelp. You can see a lot of different fish here including the California state fish Gerabaldi (spelling).
I didn't snokel while I was here because, like I said above, I am a sissy. But I heard quite a few people say that it is really pretty.
You have to rent the Kayaks from the mainland and bring it with you to the islands. The Kayaking is Great, there are some beautiful sea caves that you can snorkel through, and the water reflecting off the walls of these caves is so pretty, I can't describe how happy I was to see it. There are a couple of little bays that you can beach your kayak at and hang out on a lone beach to the south (?) of scorpion bay. I truely enjoyed Kayaking. Getting the Kayak there is a hassle, but it was worth it in the long run.
I'm not much of a hiker.. but for some reason, I really enjoyed the trails here. The views were absolutely spectacular! If you have the energy, take a hike. It is definately worth it! There is a map infront of the campground and I think one right by the pier too. There are a few trails that you can hike and one of them is rather long.. I wanted to take that trail, but we didn't have enough time. (one more reason why I need to go back! )
The visitor center on the mainland is located in Ventura by the harbor. Included in the island exhibits are wildlife displays, and a tidepool with live sea creatures. There are also relief maps, photos, & the history of the islands. There is a gift shop & book store. On clear days you can see the islands from the observation tower.
There are 2 more visitor's centers, on Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands.
The mainland facility is open:
Memorial Day - Labor Day
Labor Day - Memorial Day
A picnic area overlooks the harbor.
Sea Gulls breed on Anacapa Island, and if it is during the spring you might not be welcome as the walkways come close to the nest of the gulls. a reminder to stay on the boardwalk. All the same, quite interesting.
What to do while you're on the island: Swim, snorkel, hike, camp, watch wildlife, kayak the sea caves that line the base of the island.
The Channel Islands are a prime kayaking spot. Many companies offer tours with equipment provided or you can have a personal kayak brought over for a fee.
The islands have many scenic hiking trails ranging from a few mile easy hikes to multi day cross island hikes.
The main visitor's center is at the Ventura harbor. There is a smaller visitor center on Santa Cruz Island