Actually three separate islets totaling just over 1 sq mile, Anacapa gives a memorable introduction to the Channel Islands’ ecology. It's also the best option if you're short on time. Boats dock year-round on the East Island where, after a short climb, you’ll find 2 miles of trails offering fantastic views of island flora, a historic lighthouse, and rocky Middle and West Islands. You're bound to see western gulls too – the world's largest breeding colony is here.

Kayaking, diving, tide-pooling and watching seals and sea lions are popular outdoor activities, while inside the museum at the small visitor center, divers with video cameras occasionally broadcast images to a TV monitor you can watch during spring and summer.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Channel Islands National Park

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The Channel Islands is an eight-island chain lying off the coast from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara. The four northern islands – San Miguel, Santa Rosa,…

2. Santa Cruz Island

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4. Museum of Ventura County

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5. Mission San Buenaventura

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6. Leo Carrillo State Park

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7. Carpinteria State Beach

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