Channel Islands

Californian Channel Islands map en.png


  • The Channel Islands are called the “Galapagos Islands of North America” and for good reason. About 145 of flora and fauna varieties found on the Channel Islands are endemic – they are found nowhere else on Earth! Right here in California – easily accessible from LA!
  • The excellent NPS website – and wikipedia
  • Channel Islands National Park is made up of 5 individual islands: Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel
  • The last 4 islands were actually one big island called Santarosae about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago during the last ice age when sea level were about 400 feet lower than the current levels.
  • The other islands in the Santa Barbara Channel, but that are not part of the Channel Islands National Park are: San Nicolas, San Clemente and the popular Santa Catalina Island (you cannot visit San Nicolas and San Clemente islands because they are owned by the US Navy)
  • Choose an Island to visit: Anacapa, Santa Cruz or Santa Rosa (San Miguel is closed as of this writing and Santa Barbara is too small, and too far – its closer to Catalina Island than to the rest of the Channel Islands)
  • The Channel Islands are VERY different from Catalina Island. There are NO hotels/restaurants/pubs/shops on the Channel Islands. The only way to spend a night on the Islands is to camp there. Otherwise, you visit the Islands for a day trip. There is only 1 company that has permission to run boats to the Islands: Island Packers (hideous 90s website alert!). Island Packers boats can be boarded from Oxnard or Ventura. You can only do Mainland-Channel Islands-Mainland. There are no options to “island hop”.
  • You have to bring all your food, water, etc and have to take back all your trash to the mainland.
  • If you are into snorkeling or kayaking, you can reserve a guided tour, also through Island Packers.
  • Santa Cruz Island is an odd place – once you go away from the landing / campsite area, there are no trees, no structures, no shade, no nothing but barren open land. There only are shrubs that are knee-high to waist-high. You realize this when you get tired of hiking and just want to sit down in some shade – there is none. Or, if you want to relieve yourself – there’s no tree to go behind!

Must See/Do

  • Hiking
  • Look for Island foxes: these house-cat sized foxes are endemic to the Channel Islands – these animals and not found anywhere else on earth. These Island foxes have no natural predators on the Channel Islands. So they never learnt that they were supposed to only hunt in the dark. As a result, the Island Foxes are fearless and you will see them freely roaming around the campgrounds, close to humans. Ignorance is bliss, in this case.
  • Kayak
  • See the painted cave (Included in your boat fare if you go to Santa Rosa – on the way back to the mainland)

Scorpion Landing Hiking Trail

Channel Island National Park
Pictures taken with a Canon T3I (18-55 kit lens) and a crusty old iPhone 4S. No filters were used. No post-processing was done.