They’re right off the coast, and they make our Santa Barbara ocean view incredible and unique. But if looking at them isn’t enough, there are plenty of things to do and ways to explore the Channel Islands.
For the non-camping/adventure set, there are whale-watching boats that take you near the islands to see grey, blue and humpback whales, depending on the season. This is a popular pastime for both residents and visitors. You can also attend the “From Shore to Sea” lecture series without even getting on a boat. They’re held at the Park’s Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center in Ventura Harbor, and are free and open to the public.
But for the set that always have their hiking boots on or wetsuits at the ready, the Channel Islands National Park has activities for days, from kayaking to climbing and diving to camping. There are guided hikes on the islands, and many birdwatching opportunities, as well as tidepooling.
The Channel Islands National Park contains five islands: Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. Even though the islands span more than 12,000 years of human history, they have still been left to their own devices. This makes them an unusually rich source of flora and fauna, similar to the Galapagos Islands, but much easier to access!
The Chumash Indians were the initial settlers of the Channel Islands, and they have wonderful myths associated with the islands. One myth talks about how Hutash, their Earth Mother, made a rainbow bridge from the Islands to the mainland. During the crossing, some Chumash fell into the water. To prevent them from drowning, Hutash turned them into dolphins. That’s why the Chumash call dolphins their brothers and sisters.
For more Chumash myths, historical facts, and practical information on the Channel Islands National Park, including access and activities, visit their website.