Anacapa Island Adventure

Anacapa arch

The famous rock arch at Anacapa Island

I finally got to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – visit Anacapa Island! (Anacapa Island is the second smallest Channel Island and it’s part of Channel Islands National Park.) It’s really not that hard to visit the island if you live in Southern California, it’s just a matter of making time for it. And if you get seasick like me, it’s important to allocate at least a day to recover – that motion sickness medicine really knocks a person out, even the non-drowsy formula.

Why have I always wanted to go to Anacapa Island? Every time I’ve seen photos of it, I’m always amazed. It’s so rugged, pristine and spectacular. Thankfully, I was able to go as a guest with a group organized by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. (Just to be clear, I do a lot of work for the Aquarium, but in this case I went as a paying guest. And I’m not getting paid to write this article!)

The trip was on Saturday, May 20 and we all met at Channel Island Harbor in Oxnard, California to board a boat run by Island Packers. This also happened to be the same day as a triathlon and the California Strawberry Festival, so getting around Oxnard was complete insanity and one person almost missed the boat, literally!

Once the boat left the Harbor, we instantly forgot about the traffic. It was a gorgeous day featuring clear skies, calm seas and and an abundance of ocean wildlife. It takes about an hour to get to the Island and on the way we saw California brown pelicans, California sea lions, cormorants and a humpback whale!

While I always love seeing ocean wildlife, for me the best part was seeing Arch Rock come into view as we approached. There’s something about that rock that’s just mesmerizing. It’s a testament to the power of the ocean and the steadfastness of the rock. The ocean has been carving the arch for thousands of years, yet the rock still stands, and the combination is breathtaking. This set against the dark blue of the ocean and the light blue of the sky creates a truly unique and beautiful piece of natural art.

As we arrived at Anacapa Island, we had the chance to see pigeon guillemots darting about, flying from their nests built into the rocky side of the island to landing on the ocean’s surface in search of food. They were so quick, I couldn’t get a decent picture of one. Sometimes you just have to enjoy the show!

When we reached the island, the boat docked and everyone aboard disembarked one at a time. Then we climbed up 153 steps to reach the top of Anacapa. (By the way, I didn’t count the steps, that fun fact was provided in the informational materials prepared by the Aquarium.) At the top, there are amazing views in every direction. But the best part was having the chance to see hundreds of western gulls nesting all over the island. Stay tuned for more details in the next post!

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