Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park
Best Time to Visit: Spring to Early Summer, by summer, the island becomes dry and less colorful, and the sea gulls have left the island, you are left with only the left-over smell of the gulls.
Closest Major City: Los Angeles, CA. The drive to Oxnard Harbor from Los Angeles is about an hour, and the ferry ride to Anacapa Island is about 45 minutes, plus or minus depending on the conditions.
Sea Arch, Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park
The pictures here I am attaching are not really the best of Anacapa, since when we visited the island, it was already late of June, and the wildflowers were mostly gone :( and most of the gulls that nested on the island probably had gone back to the mainland already.
I first heard of Anacapa Island when the Travel Channel featured the Channel Islands National Park as one of the top ten wonders in the American West. Channel Islands National Park is mostly underwater, and it encompasses 5 islands, and one of them is Anacapa Island. The island is very close to California mainland, just 11 miles off from the harbor in Oxnard, yet it feels worlds apart. Really worlds apart, since this place is overshadowed by what is Los Angeles best known for: Hollywood, Universal Studios and Disneyland. It was not a surprise to me at all when I learned several people I know who have lived long enough in Southern California did not even know of this National Park. I do not know if it is good that not a lot of people know about this (then, nature will be undisturbed). However, I believe that the more we seek nature, the more we feel our relationship to the world we live in and our awareness to take care of our surroundings and our natural world strengthens.
Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park, CA
The island offers the basic element of Southern California living, that is a combination of hiking, rock climbing, and the ocean. The island is probably uplifted from faulting, thus it has lots of beautiful and rugged arch rocks and caves.
Rocky Cliffs, Anacapa Island
What to See in Anacapa Island: The beauty of Anacapa Island and most of Channel Islands National Park is actually under water, not for corals ( American Pacific Coast is too cold and frigid for corals to grow), but for its kelp forest and wildlife. You will be swimming with sea lions,
Swimming Sea Lion
you may spot or swim with some dolphins ( actually, hundreds followed our boat, it is just amazing to see dolphins jumping around, not one, not two, not ten, not even one hundred, but just a lot when we visited the island),
Dolphins Following Boat
and a lot more of other sea life.
However, since I do not dive nor do I kayak ( I hope to learn how to kayak though, just so I can explore more the ocean), I just content myself with terrestrial visit to this island. But the island, is still teeming with wildlife, the most conspicuous are the gulls and brown pelicans.
Gulls and Hikers on Anacapa Island
Anacapa Island is a haven for sea birds, in fact, middle and West Anacapa are closed for hiking. West Anacapa is home to the largest breeding colony of California brown pelicans. Gulls also nest on the island around April, and fluffy chicks hatch by May and June.
A Baby Gull
Thus, if you want to visit at the height of wildflowers and bird viewing, the best time would be May and early June.
A Family of Gulls
Gulls is Warning You, Do not Come Near :)
Gull Staring At You Like A Soldier
I usually do not see gulls with this very strong stare, as if really closely watching you, but I guess, because at this time of the year, they are protecting their young, their protective spirit shows. This scene below, I kind of laughed when I saw it, the gull somehow just knew where to stand to guard her babies.
Gull Protecting Her Young (below the left side of the sign)
I did not get close to these gulls actually, I stayed on the designated trails. I just used a zoom lens, which for wildlife photography, is still not good enough, but for someone like me who is just enjoying nature, it is already good enough.
Anyway, for those who live close to LA and are thinking of a get-away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Anacapa island awaits you. If you are visiting LA, you may want to add to the usual itinerary of visiting Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Universal Studios and Disneyland, a boat ride to Anacap Island, or explore the other beautiful natural sceneries such as Big Sur and the Sierras. Best time to visit to make the most of your experience is April to early June. For reservation, contact the Island Packers (visitation at Anacapa is limited due to the limited boat rides).