Exploring the Galapagos of North America - Channel Islands
Have you ever heard of the "Galapagos of North America"? If not, these stunning islands are just off the coast of California and are definitely worth getting explored. The National Park is including five islands that are remarkable in their ocean environment. They are protecting natural and cultural resources. Through their isolation for thousands of years from the continent, they have created unique animal species, plants, and other archeological resources which are endemic to the islands. Nowhere else on earth will you find a similar life. This is how coastal California once looked like all across the coastline. And over here it is preserved and survived into the 21 century.
The Channel Islands are just a short trip away off the coast. If you're looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life this is the place to go. Over 2000 plant and animal species are home to those islands of which 150 of them are endemic to this area. They aren't found anywhere else in the world and are the reason why the islands received the nickname of being North America's Galapagos Islands.
The Channel is also home to several marine mammals including whales, dolphins, and elephant seals. You can find small sea life like sea stars or the largest animal in the world - the blue whale. All of them are home to these islands.
"The Channel Islands are also the site of the oldest known human remains in North America, and provide the opportunity to experience coastal southern California as it once was. Archeologists have discovered that dwarf wooly mammoths thrived on the island until the last Ice Age ended 11,000 years ago." - visitventuraca.com
You can visit the islands all year round and each season has something unique to offer. While the summer season is for sure the most popular one offering blue and humpback whale watching, the best time for water expeditions is early fall due to the high water temperatures. Snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and swimming are best done during autumn.
Being on the west coast of California one can experience stunning sunsets over the vastness of the ocean when visiting the islands. Winter is said to be the season with the most spectacular sunsets due to marine life such as elephant seals, harbor seal pups, and gray whales migrate through while traveling south. And the season of spring is simply beautiful due to the lush green grass and life coming up everywhere.
Each of the five islands offers different experiences to their visitors due to their unique shapes and vegetation. Anacapa Island is covered in wildflowers and is popular among bird watchers and those looking for shorter hikes. Those who would like to stay over and camp on the island usually choose Santa Cruz Island which is known by adventure seekers. Sea cave kayaking, snorkeling, and going on long hikes are some of the activities done over here. If you're looking for white sand beaches you should go to Santa Rosa Island which is though only accessible from March through October.
Miles of coastline and sea cliffs offer endless stunning views across the islands and the ocean. Best explored on foot while hiking on one of the countless hiking trails in the National Park.
Certain areas of the islands are currently closed due to the damage from fires and for the protection of breeding birds. The National Park is following the recommended health requirements due to the pandemic and is requiring the wearing of a face covering in closed buildings and wherever social distancing can't be practiced.
Visit their website for updated information on opening and operating hours before your visit.
- National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/chis/index.htm)
- Visitvventure.ca.com (https://visitventuraca.com/channel-islands-national-park-overview/)