California’s Remote Island Adventure
Not all road trips need pavement. Drive to the coast, then hop a ferry to the Channel Islands, an eight-island archipelago off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Five of the islands make up Channel Islands National Park and the two closest to the mainland, Santa Cruz and Anacapa, require a one-hour boat ride. On 62,000-acre Santa Cruz, you can find hiking trails that stretch for up to 18 miles with views of the coast and an occasional whale. Like the more famous Galapagos Islands, the Channel Islands’ evolutionary steps took place in isolation, leading to a diverse collection of flora and fauna. And because the islands are hard to get to, you’ll feel relatively isolated there. When you’ve done enough trail running and hiking, contact Channel Islands Scuba for a kayak and scuba package at Scorpion Ranch, off the east side of Santa Cruz Island. You’ll paddle through caves, then swim through a kelp forest.
There’s primitive camping on Santa Cruz Island, and you’ll need a permit to stay there. You’ll also need to bring your own water to some sites. If you’re looking for something much less primitive, jump off the ferry and head to Santa Barbara — rent a room at the Inn at East Beach. The Santa Barbara Brewhouse offers everything from burgers to seafood, and you’ll find great Mexican food at Los Arroyos and Taqueria El Bajio.Back to top