A little over a week ago I went on a boat tour of the California Channel Islands. Island Packers puts on the three and a half hour boat ride and tour of the Channel Islands wildlife out of Oxnard, California. The morning was cool and cloudy on our drive to Oxnard but we were hopeful that the weather would clear up for our afternoon trip. Our tickets weren’t good until the 1:30pm trip and we hard arrived a few hours early, but we were pretty lucky, the clouds started burning off and the weather started heating up.
We boarded the boat along with about 25 other people and had to stake out a good spot to take in the views. I was at the bow (front) of the boat with about six other people and as we set out of the marina and into the vast Pacific Ocean we had the best view.
The ocean laid out before us in all of its vastness and a wall of foggy clouds blocked out most of the view of the islands off in the distance. A little over halfway to the islands our captain spotted the spray from a blowhole about a mile away and we headed towards it in the hopes of seeing some whales up close and personal. And boy did we. The couple of whales we saw in the half hour or so that we were just floating there were about twenty feet at most away from the side or our boat. They were blue whales, the largest animal to exist on Earth.
As we made our way towards the Islands the clouds that hung around the islands cooled the air and kept the islands shrouded in mystery. We went to the north island of Santa Rosa and slowly made our way up the coast of the island to the coast of the Santa Cruz Island and on the coast of Anacapa Island.
Home to a variety of flora and fauna found only amongst these islands, the Channel Islands have been paced under the National Park system and many are closed to the public in an effort to restore them to their natural habitat. Humans used the islands for multiple reasons about 50 plus years ago and it ended up endangering many animals and plant life found in the area. Out of the three islands we visited only Anacapa is open to the public to camp on and hike around.
Anacapa is home to the famous arch that is the defining feature for the Channel Islands National Park. There is a lighthouse on the islands that is over 50 years old and the only other buildings on the island are park service buildings.
The islands have huge cliff walls, caves, multiple sea bird species, and plenty of sea lions and seals that hang out along the rocky coast.
After a guided tour of the island sights and the wildlife found there we set back out heading towards the marina. This time we came across a couple more blue whale and a very large group of common dolphin that swam around our boat jumping in and out of the water everywhere we could see.
This trip was unlike any I had ever done. I learned so much about the islands and the wildlife found there, and being so close to the largest animal on Earth was really exhilarating and breath taking.
What takes your breath away when on a trip?