Magic exists in the natural marvels of Channel Islands National Park. Off the coast of Southern California, you'll find five islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, & the smallest island of them all, Anacapa Island. Available by boat only, these other islands are secluded from the buzzing freeways & cell phone chatter of everyday life. You won't find a Wi-Fi signal out here, but you might find yourself. Anacapa Island is 12 miles out to sea. As your boat comes in you might see the sea caves, kelp beds, and arch rock. Seriously the best views for wildlife watching.

Scroll down to learn the answers to: Where is Anacapa Island? How do you get there? Is it part of Channel Islands National Park? What are some things to do on Anacapa Island? Is there camping? Are there hotels in Downtown Oxnard? How can you do an Anacapa Island day trip?

About Carmen

Hello, welcome to my blog! I'm Carmen. I'm a travel writer (also known as a travel blogger or travel influencer). Some of my most popular travel posts are Things to Do at Playas de Tijuana, MexicoHow You Can Visit Central Perk Cafe from Friends, & Your Guide to Oslo, Norway. I prefer black tea over coffee. I've worked with brands & companies such as The French Ministry of Agriculture, KAABOO Del Mar, Queen of the South TV show on USA,  OLLY, & more. You can learn more About Me here.

Dolphins near Anacapa Islands Arch on board the Island Packers Channel Islands National Park
A pod of dolphins followed our Island Packers boat on the return trip from Anacapa Island - near Anacapa Arch.

Where is Anacapa Island?

Part of the Channel Islands National Park, you can find Anacapa Islands off the coast of Oxnard, California. Oxnard is 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles; 38 miles south of Santa Barbara. Anacapa Island has three islets named East, Middle, & West Anacapa Islands. However, you aren't permitted to explore all three of them. 

How do I get to Anacapa Island?

It's not like visitors can walk from one island to the next anyway, that's why you need a boat for transportation. You have to take a boat trip out there. The boat ride over takes about an hour. Visitors can explore the entire island in just half a day. You can't just leave the island when you want, you have to stay there until the boat takes you back later in the afternoon. Perfect excuse to go on an adventure!

Other things to do in California: Go skydiving & wine tasting in Lompoc, California

On the way to Anacapa Island on the Island Packers boat whale watching dolphins
Travel to Anacapa Island on the Island Packers boat.

Transportation Around the Islands

I took a majestic boat ride with Island Packers. Arrive at the Oxnard Harbor. Travel time takes about an hour each way. Fred & I downloaded a few episodes of the Dr. Death podcast so we could listen with headphones from our phone. A layer of clouds protected us from the sun & the waves of the ocean. Apparently, the clearer the skies, the choppier the water. The more you know, right?

As we ventured past the Anacapa arch our way back to Oxnard, we saw a pod of dolphins. They swam right next to us. It was a top life experience. Island Packers offers trips to Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Barbara Island, whale watching, & other exciting options for visitors. 

Once the Island Packers boat docks, adventurers step onto a ladder at Landing Cove then they corral everyone to cover the essential rules of Anacapa Island. After that, get ready for your quads to burn because you have 157 steps to climb. 

I felt a bit winded but the view from the top was spectacular, the first time you can see what it looks like from the island. You're really stuck out there on a small blip of land in the middle of the ocean, okay well it's about 10 miles off the coast of Oxnard, California.

Other things to do in California: Beach hopping & meditation in Encinitas, California

Animals on Anacapa Island: Western Gulls, Pelicans, Island Fox
Western Gull mama (probably) & cute little spotted chick.

Marine Life and Animals on Anacapa Island: Western Gulls, California Brown Pelicans, Island Fox, Oh My!

Visit Anacapa Island from April through mid-August & you'll run into some seabirds, particularly the Western gull. An annoyed gull pooped on Fred's backpack as we walked by its nest. If you're not a fan of birds, guano (bird poop), possible bird carcasses, loud squawking (literally anytime you walk by a nest or chicks), questionable smells, then avoid voyaging to the island during this time frame. However, if you want to experience an absolutely remarkable natural phenomenon, then mark your calendarbook a ticket. You might spot California Brown Pelicans, cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls, California sea lions, harbor seals. I saw California Brown Pelicans, Western gulls, sea lions, & dolphins! Just stay on the hiking trails! There is even summer whale watching so you might catch a whale too.

Animals on Anacapa Island: Western Gulls, Pelicans, Island Fox, Sea lions Island Packers boat tour whale watching
Sea lions relaxing & making a bunch of noise in a private cove.

Anacapa Island Camping

We only did a day trip on the island, but there are Anacapa Island camping options. We saw several campers already setup from the day before. There were a couple campers who left on the evening boat out for the day. The campsites are "primitive." That's the wording from the National Park Service website, but I'd called them minimal or bare. Anacapa Island provides picnic tables, food storage boxes, & pit toilets for use. But ultimately, you need to take all trash with you as there are no rubbish bins. The island has 7 campsites that fit 4-6 people per site. Reservations are required, so you can't just decide you're having a great time staring at the baby Western Gulls & have a sleepover. Check campsite availability on, the official website to make your Anacapa Island camping reservations.

Is There Food, Drink, & Water on Anacapa Island?

No, make sure to bring everything you need with you. There's no food, drink, or water on the island for visitors to purchase. We brought a couple liters of water, sandwich or pita pockets, chips, fruit, granola bar, & some chocolate in a backpack for our Anacapa Island day trip. You must take all garbage with you; we simply put it in our backpack to throw away once we got back to Oxnard.

Things to Do on Anacapa Island Water Sports   Picnicking   Hiking   Camping   Bird-Watching Historic & Cultural Site Information Site Photography Ranger Station Snorkeling Swimming Visitor Center Wildlife Viewing Water Access Scuba Diving Whale-Watching
Things to Do on Anacapa Island: Hiking, Bird-Watching, Camping.

Things to Do on Anacapa Island

On our day trip to Anacapa Island, we walked the entire trail around the island, saw the Anacapa Island lighthouse, marveled at the views from Inspiration Point, got pooped on by a Western Gull (well, Fred did at least), picnicked with a panoramic ocean view. Despite the boat full of people we arrived on the island with, we were able to have many private, secluded moments. You can't get super close to the Historic Light house on Anacapa Island but you can definitely get a good photo of it.

Activities for Visitors to Do on Anacapa Island

Water Sports 
Historic & Cultural Site Information Site 
Ranger Station 
Small Visitor Center 
Wildlife Viewing 
Water Access 
Scuba Diving 

Ocean view Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort Things to do in Oxnard, California
Our ocean view room from Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard, California.

Where to Stay (Besides Camping on Anacapa Island): Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort

I stayed at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort with a remarkable ocean view. Our spacious two-room suite Mandalay Beach Hotel is a good option for kids, families, & couples.  They have a spa, fitness center, huge pool. I took advantage of Happy Hour by the pool. Just show your wristbands & order your drink. I grabbed the house wine while Fred opted for their beer on tap. We sipped our beverages along with the dozens of other people doing the same thing on a Friday evening. Make sure to eat the made-to-order brekkie at the Coastal Grill in the morning.

Hotels in Oxnard

Take a look at some of the hotels in Downtown Oxnard. You can customize what day you'll arrive/leave & how many people in your group. You can even expand your hotel search to include Oxnard & surrounding areas:

Things to Do in Oxnard, CA

You can spend the entire day or weekend admiring nature in Oxnard. There are endless things to do in Oxnard, California as far as strolls by the beach, kayaking, exploring the Channel Islands National Park, & thriving outside. Visit Oxnard has some fabulous suggestions if you need more inspiration for places to stay, where to dine, things to do, & local events in Oxnard. There are other other California National Parks as well.

Other Fun Stuff

The National Parks Service (NPS) even has a few live camera feeds so you can see what's going on. Take a look at the Bald Eagle Cam.

Pin this image on Pinterest - Day Trip to Anacapa Island
Pin this image on Pinterest - Day Trip to Anacapa Island.

Have a question? Comment below & I will answer the best I can. Let me know if you've visited Anacapa Island. Would the birds scare you off? :]