Ventura Harbor Village is the place to be in Ventura. With its boutiques and restaurants, spend an hour or a day strolling the yachts and gorgeous sandy beaches. The Village also serves as the gateway to Channel Islands National Park with an informative visitor center.
Anacapa Island is the smallest of Channel Islands National Park and is a series of 3 islets totaling 5 miles long. Though tiny, its beauty is unmatched with its dramatic sea cliffs, coves and ocean vistas. California sea lions & harbor seals are heard and seen nesting along its coastline while western gulls call this place home in the Spring and make up the largest breeding colony in the world. Native Americans used the island for thousands of years and called it 'Anypakh' or 'Mirage'.
Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island is a treasure of the Channel Islands. This volcanic island separates into a chain of carved islands creating a jaw-dropping vista that drops to the ocean. A 2 mile round trip hike takes you across the tiny island to the viewpoint.
Santa Barbara Shores County Park preserves what the wild coast here has looked like for thousands of years. Easy trails wind to sandy beach with views of the Channel Islands while the Santa Ynez Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop. The park is also home to the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove each winter from November to February where thousands of butterflies come to roost. The highest amount ever recorded was 48,000!
At 3,111 feet, Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. A moderate-strenuous 3 mile round trip hike takes you to one of the best vistas in Southern California. Malibu, the Channel Islands, Ventura and Santa Barbara can all be seen on a clear day. Once at the top, do not forget to sign and enjoy the log.
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.
Cathedral Cove is one of the jewels of Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park. Its crystal clear waters and rocky shore provide a dramatic ocean vista while seclusion and lack of visitors make it an extremely peaceful treat.
Mandalay Beach in Oxnard is a pristine sandy beach with rolling sand dunes. The beach also preserves central coast wetlands on the Oxnard Plain. Commanding views of the Channel Islands can be seen while enjoying a perfect sunset from this relaxing beach.
Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura is a beautiful place to view the central coast. Commanding views of the Channel Islands, the Oxnard Plain, the Santa Monica Mountains and Ventura County can all be seen from the trails. The Iconic 'Two Trees', a Ventura Landmark, can also be seen as the rolling foothills turn a brilliant green in the wintertime.
Smuggler's Cove on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park is a premiere Hike in Southern California. The trail is 8 miles out and back making it a moderately strenuous hike. Carry lots of water and use caution in the summer heat. The trail crosses the beautiful island to a hidden cove which is perfect for relaxing and watching the waves roll in. Great views of Anacapa Island can also be seen. This trailhead can be reached by taking an Island Packers Cruise to Scorpion Ranch.