Don Bain's 360° Panoramas of the
Channel Islands of Southern California
San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, San Nicholas, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands
There is a chain of islands off the coast of Southern California known as the Channel Islands, easily visible on clear days by millions of people. But only one island sees any significant number of visitors, and some are almost never visited.The northernmost five islands in the chain (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara) are protected as Channel Islands National Park. The most visited (Catalina) once belonged to the Wrigley family (of chewing gum and stadium fame) and now has its own foundation to preserve and restore it. The other two, San Nicholas and San Clemente, sadly, belong to the US Navy and have been used for target practice.
The most visited island in the park is East Anacapa, less than a mile long. The park concessionaire, Island Packers, runs tours to there from Ventura almost every day, and there is a small campground. The island is notable for its spring bloom of coreopsis, ground nesting birds, and lighthouse.
Santa Cruz is the largest in the chain, but most of it is managed by the Nature Conservancy and not open to the public. However, it is possible to hike and even backpack on the eastern end of the island, though the scarcity of water sources can be a problem.
Santa Rosa is west from Santa Cruz and entirely within the park. Island Packers runs out there several times a week, in season, and there is a campground. San Miguel is the westernmost and the windiest. Santa Barbara, far south of he main group, is only one square mile and seldom visited.
Santa Catalina is another story altogether. Multiple daily ferries, plus air service and helicopters, make it easily accessible. It has a permanent population of 4000, mostly in the town of Avalon, plus the village of Two Harbors. Tourism is intensely developed in Avalon, and cruise ships sometimes visit, but most of the island is quiet and empty.