Anacapa Island: The island of lost seagulls and butterflies!
Birds of a feather… flock together! (Well, at least on Anacapa Island they do). Anacapa Island is one of the 5 islands that constitute the natural preservation known as Channel Islands National Park. Located off the coast of California (Oxnard and Ventura to be precise), these islands are majestic and remote. They were discovered around 13,000 years ago and harbor over 140 species of plants that are native to the island only. It is said that the Chumash and Tongva Native American tribes used the island as a frequent stopover but the Spaniards eventually took it over primarily for fishing and agriculture. The eight islands that comprise the channel islands are San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, San Nicolas, and the one I visited; Anacapa Island. It has been on my Wonder List to visit these islands for a while, especially since you can catch a boat in Oxnard (which is only an hour or so north of LA). The island was pretty desolate but the local fauna and flora was magical. The marine life is in abundance (there were so many seals!) and what I found the most fascinating was how many seagulls inhabit the island. THEY WERE EVERYWHERE! It seemed as though every step we took, we encountered a bird hovering over a nest of eggs. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock. Insanity. I fully believe they should change the name from “Anacapa Island” to “Gull or Bird Island”. LOL. If you’re looking for a cool experience outside of LA that allows you to get up close and personal with seagulls and butterflies, read my story below….
In order to get to Anacapa Island (or any of the Channel Islands for that matter), you have to either sail your own vessel, fly by plane, or take the ferry provided by the company, Island Packers (this is the way most people get there). You can catch a ferry in Ventura Harbor or Oxnard and they operate at different times. You can click on that link and check on the site for the departure schedules. We just wanted to go for a day trip but people do camp on the island overnight. If you choose to camp, you have to bring your own tents, food, and water as the islands are so desolate that the only amenity they offer are outhouses without running water to do your business. The tickets per ride run around $70 per ticket for both ways, which is not too costly considering that the viewpoints and experiences are priceless :).
When you arrive to Anacapa Island, you have to hike roughly 5 flights of stairs to get to the top (it’s a really tough workout!). The island is composed of a series of narrow islets 6 mi (10 km) long, oriented generally east-west and 5 mi (8 km) east of Santa Cruz Island. The three main islets, East, Middle and West Anacapa, are collectively known as The Anacapas by some authors. All three islets have jagged cliffs dropping off steeply into the Pacific. There are seagulls and butterflies all over the island and viewpoints on either side that seem to go on forever. We actually stopped and had a picnic right on the edge of one of the cliffs and it was one of the best lunch I ever enjoyed. Seagulls are nesting eggs everywhere and if you’re not careful, you may step on a nest! Don’t worry… the seagulls will be very vocal to ensure you don’t harm their eggs. I found myself running through the fields of wildflowers and butterflies and it brought me back to my youth. What a glorious adventure! Surprisingly, we found some Cholla cacti around the island as well and that certainly reminded me of some less than fun memories. LOL. If you want to read about my encounter with a cholla cactus, read HERE about my experience in Joshua Tree.
There are many opportunities for photos on the island because the scenery and the backdrop is something out of a fairytale. I took full advantage of this opportunity to snag some photos with my husband. He’s not on social media and doesn’t really like to be photographed but he took one for the team and we scored some beautiful photos together. NOTE: While the cliffs are beautiful and look inviting, they are slippery and dangerous and it is of utmost importance to keep a distance from the edge. Some parts are roped off for safety but the majority of the island is up to your discretion. High winds upon the volcanic rock are unsafe and when you take photos here, be sure to not take them directly near or on the edge. Incidents have happened with photos on social media and some visitors have sadly fallen from the pristine cliffs. Always be sure to be extra careful when getting the shot. There are plenty of photos ops that don’t involve losing your life. We took the amazing photos below well behind the safety rope and far from the edge (even though it may not look like it). My husband is extra careful about our safety at all times.
Constructed in 1912, it is the last major lighthouse built on the west coast. Anacapa and several other islands were collectively designated as the Channel Islands National Monument in 1938, though the Coast Guard retained responsibility for the Anacapa lighthouse. As this island is extremely desolate, the lighthouse is one of the only structures on the island. You can view the lighthouse from a great distance on the boat or, once you’re on the island, take a short hike past the visitor center to check it out.