Off the Central Coast lies Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands owned by the National Park Service and Nature Conservancy. Inhabited by Chumash Native Americans for at least 10,000 years, they called the island 'Limuw' meaning 'in the sea'. Legend has it that the Chumash found a priest's staff left behind from the Spanish Portola expedition of 1769 and returned it. The island was then named 'La Isla de Santa Cruz' or 'Island of the Sacred Cross' from this friendly gesture.
Santa Cruz Island is the largest island in California and contains 77 miles of varied coastline from sandy shores to rocky coves. More than 600 plant species dot the island while eight grow nowhere else on Earth. A highlight to the island is spotting the curious Island Fox. Hikes for every skill level can be explored in this marvelous place for solitude.