Greetings from Channel Islands National Park

The hidden gem of SoCal, in plain sight of millions of people,  exists quietly nearby and largely unvisited.  We looked at this park for years on our hikes in the hills, from walks on the beach, and while dining in swanky Santa Barbara restaurants.  Then after many passing glances at the channel we figured out that five of the eight Channel Islands were protected in 1980 as a National Park and deserved our attention! So the adventures began. 

Our trips have included snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, sailing, and camping.  Every trip restores our souls, elivens our senses and helps us appreciate the sea, the shore, and the Chumash people that called this place home long before we figured out the boat trip across the channel was worth every minute of planning and every dollar spent on the boat operator.  

Our most recent adventure (see pic) took us from Oxnard to Anacapa Island where we kayaked in sea caves, along the jagged shore face and even a little wave challenge across and ismus  (to be clear ONLY a couple folks tested their skills on the surge the rest of us happy clapped at their success)…and that was before lunch…after lunch we did a snorkel through a kelp forests, along a rock face in constant sight of sea bass and sheepshead. 

Access to any of the islands requires a channel crossing and so for most of us common folks we are connecting with Island Packers, the NPS approved outfitter. Some scheduling, a little extra expense for the trip, and planning for a boat ride may be the reasons this is still an under-visited site….but the under-visited situation means more park, with less people and the magic of being off-the-grid….  We especially appreciate the lack of concession on the islands…. (the opposite experience of Catalina Island, which is a part of the Channel Island archipelago but NOT a part of the CINP so don’t be a judger if that’s your only California Island experience).

It should be noted that getting to the islands is half the fun, so long as you consider a 1 - 4 hour boat ride fun.  The channel crossing often includes watching some of the half million common dolphins that call the Santa Barbara Channel their home.  Other potential sightings include grey whales, humpback whales, and even the world’s largest mammal, Blue ales.   Once you land the endemic Island Fox is the show stopper.  Underwater the bright orange California garibaldi claims the eye-candy prize. Visitors flock to under-water  part of the park because of the one mile off-shore perimeter is the park boundary.  So the world’s most avid scuba divers come to explore shipwrecks and hope for giant grouper sightings.  Their journey has been known to have a face to face experience with some of the many seals and sea lions that make CINP their home.

We are happy that we discovered this serene and lovely place, even if a bit late in our time here.  We are blessed that  this is our “home” park. We hope other NP adventurers will appreciate, enjoy and protect this pristine, quiet, and nuanced park that is restoring our region’s habitat and our souls….

Randy and Joyce Berg Santa Barbara,  California 


Channel Islands National Park

Sometimes referred to as the “Galapagos of North America,” these five islands serve as critical habitat for a variety of vulnerable and recovering animals, including the island night lizard, the threatened Scripps's murrelet, the snowy plover and the park’s distinctive island fox, found nowhere else in the world. The nutrient-rich waters and kelp forests surrounding the park nurture a surprising diversity of marine life as well, including dolphins, whales and exotic-looking starfish. Only accessible by boat or plane, visitors can explore the islands' isolated trails, rocky beaches and pristine coves in relative solitude.

State(s): California

Established: 1938

“Every park adventure restores my soul and we have a task to pass along the benefit and care of the parks to the next generation.”

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