Visiting the Channel Islands has been on my bucket list for 2016, and I finally found a way to put it into my busy schedule, and as luck would have it, right around a holiday weekend. I not only booked an overnight camping spot on Santa Cruz Island (the largest of the 5 islands) but also went for a day trip, here on Anacapa Island.
I, Nicole, am really one to do my research before traveling or hiking anywhere. But, when trying to find in depth details on Anacapa, there wasn’t much out there. So, I am hoping my write up will help others in deciding, planning and visiting Anacapa Island. Anacapa is the closest to the mainland here in SoCal, and can be visited by booking a seat on the boat through Island Packers. Island Packers also does trips to Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa. I was actually quite impressed with the efficiency, professionalism and knowledge of the team and recommend them for travel.
Having done two trips with them now, the boat to Anacapa is quite small which if you do, you will have more of a chance of getting sea sick. I have never experienced sea sickness and felt quite a bit of it on this ride. You have been warned… to counteract sea sickness, take a motion sickness drug 1-2 hours beforehand or take along ginger chews for the ride.
Upon arriving to Anacapa (just less than an hour ride), you will be briefed by a National Parks employee. There, she only wanted to talk about one thing: the gulls. Apparently, I was visiting during the height of hatching season. This was definitely not something that can be read about anywhere online. After the briefing, you climb three flights of stairs up from the dock and there you are… on the beautiful island of Anacapa. Upon my arrival, it was much clouded in but two hours later, we had bright blue clear skies.
There is a marked trail that leads all the way to the much celebrated, Inspiration Point. Inspiration Point was named by Backpacker magazine by being one of the best views in all of California. And I can tell you, having now visited, I definitely agree. Not only is the point magnificent and breathtaking, but the gulls mostly leave you alone here, which was nice because the constant squawking was getting quite annoying.
Inspiration Point is where I spent the bulk of my time before heading back towards the dock. But not before taking a hike up to the Lighthouse on the island. The lighthouse on Anacapa is one of the last lighthouses to be built on the west coast. So, if you have little ones, they will enjoy this highlight and bit of history. The trail allows you to get pretty close too, so take the walk up there either upon docking or leaving the island.
Some other basic things to note before traveling: there is no food or water, so pack your own. There are bathrooms on the island as well as a very nice visitor center. The entire island trail is only three miles because much of the trails are closed currently for revegetation. That being said, go for the views and history of the island, pack a lunch and enjoy the highlights: Inspiration Point, Cathedral Cove and the lighthouse.