Blogs from Channel Islands National Park, California, United States, North America


Six thousand Western Gulls squawked across the heat baked crust of cliffs that was Anacapa. The day-trippers were leaving the island as we labored with our tent amid the relentless heat without a single shade tree. The island was less than a one hour boat ride from the Ventura coast, yet California seemed hazy and distant, a blurry line of something vague, somewhere we had been in the distant past. Anacapa was a small sliver of land, actually a set of four islets and a dozen smaller rocks on the way to the main islands. Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa stole the show, each easily fifty times the size of small Anacapa and boasting ranges of diminutive mountains, friendly island foxes, miles upon miles of hiking and long sandy beaches. But Anacapa was the gateway, the ... read more
Desolate Beaches
Island Steaks

Here are some videos from our boat ride (Sorry, the cinematography isn't amazing): ... read more

My legs would have given out long before the trail did, nearly ten miles into what would eventually prove a total of thirty, hiking across Santa Rosa’s girth of over fifty thousand acres. From Mount Soledad, marked by a copper plate from the US Coastal and Geological Survey, we descended a precarious path slick with marble shaped rocks, a vast and distant vista filled by the deep blue channel separating our island from its sister Santa Cruz. The copious mist of the early morning had evaporated as we passed along the spine of a hill bisecting striated rock face cliffs and barren rolling hills. We had arrived via an Island Packers catamaran the day before, three hours from Ventura Harbor with a stop at Santa Cruz Island we crossed south to avoid the violent swells stirred ... read more
Black Mountain
At the end of Lobo Canyon
Bechers Bay

Charging eighty miles an hour through Los Angeles is on the norm a more than difficult task. At four AM the city transforms from bloated arteries doused by heat to empty byways and skyscraping illumination. Our group of eight met at the Ventura harbor just as the Sun was tattooing the western sky with blasts of orange and red. Stomachs full of Starbucks coffee and breakfast sandwiches we set off on an Island Packers boat towards the eastern horizon. The catamaran paused a slightly too long at a buoy barnacled by sea lions and then picked up the pace towards Santa Cruz Island. The cragged cliff face speckled with caves transformed from the haze of early morning mist. More something of a lost-to-time monster island rather than a National Park, Santa Cruz rose from the channel ... read more
Del Norte
Setting sun at Del Norte
Island Foxes

I took the early morning Amtrak ( from my home in Orange County, connected at Union Station in Los Angeles and continued on to Ventura. The coastal city lies right where the 101 freeway hits the ocean and then turns north towards Santa Barbara. Upon arrival I grabbed a prearrange cab ride to the Island Packers headquarters located in Ventura Harbor. Island Packers ( is the sole way out to all five of the Channel Islands (minus your own boat). Check-in was quick and easy and thirty minutes later I was aboard the Island Adventure, a two story catamaran that operates off of bio-diesel. The captain came over the loud speaker with a series of safety instructions, facts and jokes as we made for open ocean. On a normal day, one can spot Santa Cruz and ... read more
Snorkel Prep
Lunch Time
Island Fox

The ship dropped anchor at Santa Catalina Island sometime before 7:30 a.m. I know this for a fact because from where we were it sounded like we had run into something. I really don’t mind noises on the ship, in fact I actually like all the different sounds you hear. Besides, dropping anchor makes for a great wake-up call. So does ordering breakfast from room service the night before. Right around 8 a.m. we received a much-welcomed knock on the door and lo and behold *key the grand music* there was breakfast. A word of caution - every number you place by a food item on the room service order form produces a covered plate. We had seven covered plates ... most of which was fruit! I wish I had taken a photo of the breakfast ... read more
Carnival Paradise
Who's watching the road?
Casino in Catalina

Once back on the ship from our day in Catalina we headed up to the Lido Buffet for lunch then off to see what was happening on deck. Boy, there was a lot going on both on the ship and off! On the ship, the water slide was in full use and the kids looked like they were having a great time. The hot tubs were filled to the brim with sun-worshipping cruisers. Security was working overtime enforcing the 'no kids in this hot tub ... they can only be in that hot tub' rule. And all the while, onlookers were enjoying the show ... like us! We were still anchored and Catalina proved to be a luscious backdrop for all of the afternoon's activities. Off the ship, we watched parasailers being pulled by like ... read more
Tenders to Catalina
Sea Gulls on Carnival Paradise
Carnival Paradise Slide

Shea and I took a quick day trip out to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park to do a little whale watching. We were searching for the migrating Gray Whales which can be seen in the Santa Barabara Channel at this time of year as they make their migration from Alaska to Mexico. For $32 dollars, we reserved spots on a 3 hour boat trip with Island Packers, a local outfitter in Ventura Harbor. We left Ventura Harbor at 9:30am and the crossing to Anacapa Island took about an hour. Along the way, we saw sea lions, pelicans, and other marine birds. However, the most abundant animal seen were the dolphins. For almost the entire duration of the crossing, it was as if the dolphins were constantly following us. Wherever you looked; towards the ... read more
Arch Rock
Lighthouse on Anacapa Island

The story before the trip: Weighing out our options on winter travel, we picked out Channel Islands as a top possibility. Now, if you were following our blog for a while, you will be smart enough not to believe what I just wrote. The truth remains that we have visited every place we know & Channel Islands seemed a better option than yet another drive down to LA. Channel islands on wiki Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth... read more
Ventura harbor
sand castle
Paati enjoying time alone

On 10/15 at 0930, Ansa and Echo checked out of Marina del Rey and set sail for Avalon on Catalina Island. At first there was no wind, but then it came up to about five or six knots on the nose. I dragged the traveler over and wind in the main gave me enough power to reduce the engine rpm from 2800 to 2000 and still maintain six plus knots of speed. Still later, we changed course to more of a reach and I unfurled the jib. Still motorsailing but a lot nicer ride with less rolling. Waves were maybe two or three feet and it was warm. Its amazing how much warmer it is south of Santa Barbara. Because this is the off season, we were able to moor in Avalon harbor. The last time ... read more
Fending off in Avalon
Bonnie working on her journal
Dick taking a break

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