Gulls Getaway

Wildlife Trip to Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park

The Anacapa wildlife spectacle begins almost as soon as you pull away from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. First up are playful common dolphins, and if you’re lucky, humpback and migrating gray whales. As you approach, you’ll see (and hear) noisy California sea lions and harbor seals. (Watch also for Anacapa’s iconic Arch Rock.) When it’s time to set foot on the island (which is actually three islets, all part of Channel Islands National Park), well, watch your head: You’re in the midst of the world’s largest protected colony of western gulls! More than 10,000 of the seabirds gather on East Anacapa for nesting season, May through July. Not enough bird life for you? West Anacapa’s protected rocky cliffs are home to one of just two breeding colonies of California brown pelicans in the western US—some 4,600 breeding pairs.

Upon arriving, visitors climb a steel rung ladder from the boat to the dock, and then ascend 157 stairs to reach the top of the island. Anacapa has just one hiking trail, but it’s a beauty: a 2-mile loop around the perimeter with spectacular views of the rugged coast, the mainland, the Anacapa lighthouse, the other Channel Islands, and of course, wild wildlife everywhere!

Gallery image 1 of 15
Gallery image 2 of 15
Gallery image 3 of 15
Gallery image 4 of 15
Gallery image 5 of 15
Gallery image 6 of 15
Gallery image 7 of 15
Gallery image 8 of 15
Gallery image 9 of 15
Gallery image 10 of 15
Gallery image 11 of 15
Gallery image 12 of 15
Gallery image 13 of 15
Gallery image 14 of 15
Gallery image 15 of 15

Reach Anacapa aboard an Island Packers ferry out of Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. The trip takes about an hour, and costs $59 for adults for a day trip, $79 for overnight. For a more immersive adventure, nab one of the island’s seven primitive campsites, for which you’ll need to bring water. No matter what, come prepared for chilly wind, and dress in layers. No dogs.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Truly Grand Day Hike

    One of the best spring day hikes in the Grand Canyon? See layer upon layer of the park’s grandeur—including the river—on this 3-mile (one-way) journey to Skeleton Point via the South Kaibab Trail.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Eucalyptus Loop

    Forest bathing among Australian trees and biting into tasty Australian meat pies—head to the 3.25-mile Eucalyptus Loop in Chino Hills and end with Aussie meat pies at a great local bakery.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Stairstruck in Hollywood

    Beachwood Canyon in Hollywoodland has an action-packed adventure with A-list workouts, big-budget views, and a stair-studded cast. Running time is 1.25 miles with five staircases

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Do it Yourself Walking Tour of Solvang

    Solvang has long been described as a “little slice of Denmark in Southern California." Experience the historic village on a 3-mile walk that explores the architecture, food, wine, and green space.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam It All

    The hills have gone green just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and this 7.5-mile lollipop loop hike passes through some of Mount Tam’s lushest spots, with bridges, creeks, a waterfall, and big views.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Headlands Over Heels

    People come from all over the world to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a dramatic and novel view of the bridge without all the people on this moderate 6-mile hike in the Marin Headlands.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Wildflower Hiking Guide

    California’s wildflowers will be lovely this spring! So how do you find the best in bloom? Check out POST’s complimentary Wildflower Guide to find the best hiking trails with wildflowers.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Ohlone Time

    Keep this epic East Bay hike on your radar for wildflowers and a waterfall that only comes to life after rain. Get wayyy back in the Ohlone Wilderness among big hills and scenery, and Murietta Falls.

    View