LA's Island Paradise

Anacapa view

People continually complain about the crowds and transformation of Southern California but, ironically, few denizens or visitors have explored the majestic Channel Islands just a few miles off shore. If you want to experience the natural beauty of SoCal à la Jurassic Park, book a boat trip with Island Packers based in Ventura or Oxnard. The Channel Islands National Park includes five diverse islands and one mile of surrounding ocean. En route, watch for frolicking bottlenose dolphins, migrating gray whales in the winter and the behemoth blues in summer. The islands also host nesting and feeding grounds for ninety-nine percent of the seas birds of California, along with massive colonies of bellowing sun-bathing sea lions. Kayak on crystal water, explore sea caves or dive the giant kelp forests, where over one thousand species of fish dwell. Divers beware—frolicking sea lions like to sneak up from behind for a good scare. On land, erudite naturalists lead hikes explaining the flora and fauna unique to each island. A limited number of campgrounds are available but book in advance as they fill up quickly. This national park, above and below water, is truly one of Southern California’s secret treasures, so don’t miss the boat.

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