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Anacapa Island - Channel Islands National Park - California Islands
channel island flowers
Pictured above are images from Anacapa Island and Oxnard's Channel Islands Harbor


ANACAPAAnacapa Island

Anacapa Island is 12 miles from the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Even though it is the closest island to the mainland, travel time still takes just under one hour. Most tour boat departures through the officially-licensed charter, Island Packers, depart Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard to East Anacapa Island.

Anacapa Island includes three small islets with beaches and coves. East, Middle and West Islets.  


Anacapa Landing Cove
Visitors arriving at Anacapa Landing Cove must step onto a ladder requiring climing several rungs to a wooden dock. From the dock there is a winding set of over 150 stairs that take you to the island plateau about 200 feet above see level for spectacular coastal views. On the plateau there's a small visitor center with a picnic area and outhouse style restrooms. A historic lighthouse still operates on the island, and the buildings once used to house Coastguard personnel have been converted into facilities for the National Park Service. There are no shade trees on east Anacapa Island though some shade is provided by the building that houses the visitor’s center. There is no water on the island so visitors need to bring an ample supply of water.


Exploration is permitted on the East islet accessed by the Landing Cove, and a small beach on the West islet called Frenchy’s Cove. The middle islet and most of the western islet remain a wilderness area set aside for the endangered California brown pelican and other nesting birds. Tours are offered through

The Channel Islands are the most important nesting grounds for seabirds on the West Coast. Though damaged by decades of cattle and sheep ranching, the islands still sport an impressive array of native plant life. Whales, orcas, and dolphins pass offshore. Tide pools, a vanishing habitat on the mainland, are doing well on Channel Islands.

The national park occupies five of the eight islands in the chain, as well as much of its offshore waters. The islands are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. Each island has its own character. Anacapa is the entry point, tiny, popular, and closest to shore. Santa Cruz is the largest and most biologically diverse; it is largely owned by the nonprofit The Nature Conservancy. Santa Rosa is the most historically interesting, and the most wide open of the larger islands for those who want to do some independent exploring. San Miguel has (arguably) the best hiking as well as terrific wildlife. Tiny Santa Barbara is the most isolated, a place to go to be alone in a wild, windy ocean.

Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands are accessible by booking seats on chartered boats departing daily from Ventura and Santa Barbara or other coastal cities which offer scuba, fishing and excursion charters. If you are short on time, half-day non land excursions are also available in Ventura on the Whale Watching trips. But the good news is that if the whales are migrating, the captain of your day-trip charter will stop to watch and take photos. California's natural splendor is what you'll discover on a trip to the islands where you may view cormorants, seals, sea lions and endangered California brown pelicans near a giant kelp forests shelter with more than 1,000 species of ocean life.


For information, write: Superintendent, Channel Islands National Park, 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA  93001-4354 or call, 805-658-5730. Request the brochure: Channel Islands National Park California, produced by National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior


Rangers conduct walks on San Miguel, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. Call (805) 658-5711 for tour information or (805) 964-7839 for Santa Cruz island. 


Visitor Center in Channel Island Harbor, 1901 Spinnaker Drive, contains the park headquarters, featuring exhibits, hands on displays and slide and film shows about the islands.  Mon.- Fri. 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Sat.&Sun. 8 am - 5 pm (805) 658-5730


Channel Islands Length X Width Travel Time (approx.)/ Distance Camping
Anacapa Island 5 miles X  55 min. to 1 hour / 12 miles 805-658-5730 
Santa Cruz Island 24 miles X  1 hour / 20 miles 800-365-2267
Santa Rosa Island 15 miles X 10 miles 2.5 to 3 hours / 46 miles 800-365-2267
San Miguel Island 8 miles X 4 miles 3.5 to 4 hours / 58 miles 800-365-2267
Santa Barbara Island 0.25 miles X 2.5 to 3 hours / 55 miles 805-658-5730