Channel Islands National Park: Anacapa Island

Anacapa Island is the smallest of the islands that you can visit by ferry and the closest to the mainland.  This view is of an arch that you see as you approach and, of course, leave the island by ferry boat.  The ferry boats are a service of Island Packers, who do a great job of getting you to and from the islands safely.  We were on the ferry with 6 other "regular" tourists like us, and three large groups of school age kids who provided plenty of "energy" for the trip.

We learned that Anacapa Island is a place for Western Gulls, several thousand of them, to lay and hatch eggs, and to raise their young.  It's the largest such place for the Western Gulls.  When we visited in early May, they had laid their eggs and were incubating them with hatching expected in a week or so.  Each gull lays one to three eggs. and the couple take turns sitting on them until they hatch.  They are everywhere on the island and they make their nests everywhere, including right beside the hiking trails and even one right on the trail.  Some seek some shelter for their nests, including in the middle of vegetation or under some structure, of which there is very little.  We saw one nest under the sign welcoming us to the island and others just about everywhere you could find space for a nest.

The tour boat drops you at the landing cove and you must climb about 150 steps to the island where there is no beach.  From the landing cove, you can hike the trail to Inspiration Point by way of either Cathedral Cove or Pinniped Point.  As you can see, the view there is quite inspirational.  From the Point, you look west toward Middle Anacapa and West Anacapa islands.  You can only visit East Anacapa which by itself is rather small, about 2 miles long.

When we landed, we asked where the school groups were going, and we headed the other way toward Inspiration Point where we ate lunch.  The hardest part is that with all the gulls, there is barely a square foot without bird poop on it.  But we enjoyed walking around the gulls who warned you with their squawking to stay away from their nests.  If you got close, some would walk away while others just stayed on their nests and squawked.  We heard that when the chicks hatch, the gulls will aggressively try to keep you from their chicks.  A hard hat seemed appropriate to us to protect yourself.

After viewing Inspiration Point, we walked to the other end of the island where the lighthouse is.  You are warned to not go too close to the lighthouse because the fog horn could damage your hearing.  There was no warning that the gulls squawking at you could also be VERY loud.  So we just kept walking and enjoying the wildflowers and seeing what little vegetation was on the island.  There is no source of fresh water naturally on the island other than the winter rains and the fog.  There have been attempts to collect water on the island but right now, they boat the water supply to the island.  

The length of trails around the island were perfect for us.  We had time and energy to walk all of them during our time on the island.  The trails were about a mile from end to end, so we walked about 2 miles while we were there and would have had time for a little more walking if there were only more trails. We were on the island for about 5 hours, from 10:30 to 3:30.  After hiking around the island, we returned to the visitor center and then to the boat landing cove.  The ferry boat met us as scheduled and took us back on another relatively smooth trip to Ventura harbor.  The trip was obviously not long enough for the kids as they had plenty of energy left to run around the boat and visit the snack bar.