Channel Island: Anacapa Island

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Location: 

Visited: July 8, 2017

Description: The closest and smallest of the 5 Channel Islands. Perfect for a quick half or full day adventure.

Ferry Tickets: Island Packers

Length: <2 miles

Duration: Half day to full day

Difficulty: Easy

Terrain: Dirt

Parking: Lot

Pets: No dogs allowed :/

Best time to go: Spring/summer

Bring: Camera, water, snack/lunch, blanket, sweatshirt/jacket (if you plan on going in the morning), seasickness pills (if you think you’ll get sick)


Channel Island is one of the more uniquely located National Parks in the United States. Made up of 5 major islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel & Santa Barbara – Channel Islands is located off the coast of Ventura County in Southern California. The only way to get to this National Park is by boat. So hopefully you got some rich friends who can give you a ride or you’ll have to hop on a boat with Island Packers to get you there!

Planning a trip to Channel Islands was pretty frustrating.  There is no way to hop from island to island through the ferry shuttle service. The boat ride only goes back and forth from Ventura/Oxnard to that specific island. The only way to experience multiple islands is to purchase multiple boat rides. 😒 In the end we decided to check out Anacapa Island because it was the closest and least expensive of the 5 islands (plus we needed to see Inspiration Point!)

We arrived at Oxnard Island Packers Harbor 45 minutes before our scheduled departure. You’ll need to head to their office to check in and pick up your ferry tickets.

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Once aboard, we spent the next 50 minutes enjoying the calm water and slow breeze. If you are lucky you’ll be able to see some wildlife on the way there. We were lucky enough to see a family of dolphins on our way there. It was sooo amazing!

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Right before you get to Anacapa, you’ll see the famous Arch Rock. If you look closely you’ll see an incredible amount of bird poop on top.

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As our boat docked, we were greeted by Ranger Nik. He gave us instructions and told us about the island before letting us roam around. Turns out we were visiting during seagull mating/birthing season (May – July). Lucky us…

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After climbing a long flight of stairs, we made it to the top of the island. Follow along the only trail and you’ll reach the small Visitor Center a few minutes later.

Anacapa is very small and has no source of fresh water. This allows seagulls to mate freely without having too many predators to worry about. The amount of seagull sh*t we saw on Arch Rock definitely foreshadowed the rest of the island. Everywhere we went there were hundreds of seagulls and their babies. All of them were staring at us with their little beady eyes… (We swear!!! LOL). According to one fellow hiker, the seagulls were pretty aggressive toward him along the trail. We may have developed a slight Ornithophobia on this adventure. 😅😅

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Despite the number of flying friends on the island we were still able to enjoy Anacapa. There are beautiful views all around the island.

There are four hiking destinations on the island which can all be done in one trip:

  • Lighthouse – .5 miles roundtrip to a historic lighthouse built in 1932. The fog horn and lighthouse are still active so you actually can’t get closer than this.

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  • Inspiration Point – 1.5 miles roundtrip to extraordinary views that should not be missed.

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  • Cathedral Cove – .6 roundtrip to an overlook of a cove with beautiful rock formations

  • Pinniped Point – .4 miles roundtrip to an overlook of a haul out side for California sea lions. You can’t see much at the bottom in this picture but maybe it was an off season

If you have time, you can enjoy a swim in the ocean from the Landing Cove (where the boat docked).

Although the island is less than 2 miles of trail, it was definitely worth experiencing. We were happy to have had the chance to check out the island and cross another National Park off our bucket list. We just need to find some friends with a boat so we can go island hopping so we can do some island burpeeing 😉.

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@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • Only Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island are year round, please make sure you check ferry availability times.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

5 thoughts on “Channel Island: Anacapa Island

  1. The views here look incredible, wow! but I already have slight ornithophobia. Hahaa. It would be incredibly difficult for me to get past all those seagulls.

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  2. I’ve always wanted to explore these islands but I really don’t like birds that are anywhere near my personal space. Making a mental note to not go during seagull nesting season….

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