Anacapa Island is a small volcanic island located about 11 miles off the coast of Port Hueneme, California, in Ventura County. The island is composed of a series of narrow islets 6 mi long, oriented generally east-west and 5 mi east of Santa Cruz Island.
It is the only one of the Channel Islands to have a non-Spanish-derived name. Anacapa comes from the Chumash word Ennepah or Anyapakh, meaning "mirage island".
Anacapa is actually 3 islets – East, Middle and West Anacapa. Only East Anacapa is open to visitors. The other two islets are closed giving free reign to wildlife. The island doesn't have a beach, only cliffs ascending from the ocean.
Anacapa Island is the perfect place for a half-day, one-day, or short overnight camping trip. If you have time to visit just one island, this may be the place. As with all the Channel Islands, visiting Anacapa Island is an exercise in preparation and self-reliance. Since there are no services on the islands, there are no remedies for poor planning once you have arrived.
On days that the concessionaire boats run to the islands, guided hikes may be offered by national park volunteers or concessionaire naturalists. If they are not available to lead hikes, self-guided interpretive trail booklets are available. Hikes generally begin 30 minutes after Island Packers boats arrive on the island. During the spring and summer, Channel Islands Live programs are offered where park rangers with special microphone-equipped dive masks and underwater video cameras descend into towering kelp forests and interact with you on this virtual underwater hike.
Hiking -- MAP
Although hiking options are limited with only two miles of trails, the scenery is unmatched. Except for the staircase to the top of the island, the figure eight-shaped trail system is relatively flat and easy while meandering over gentle slopes to dramatic overlooks, magnificent coastal views, and the last permanent lighthouse built on the West Coast. Hikers must stay on trails to protect fragile vegetation and nesting seabirds and for visitor safety. Middle Anacapa and West Anacapa are not open to hiking. They are set aside for the island wildlife except for Frenchys Cove on West Anacapa that can be reached only by boat.
Primitive camping is available (seven sites; $15 per night per site; reservations required). Picnic table, food storage box, and pit toilet are provided. No water is available. Distance from landing to campground is one-half mile and includes a 157-stair climb.
Ideal place for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and kayaking, but there are no lifeguards on the island. Since Anacapa is a cliff island, access to the water is only at the Landing Cove on East Anacapa via a dock. There are no other accessible beaches unless you have a watercraft. Excellent watersports can be experienced at the Landing Cove. The underwater visibility is usually very good and the water is teeming with life since it is located within a marine reserve. Kayaking east towards Arch Rock or west towards Cathedral Cove provides great wildlife viewing, sea caves, and arches.
No fishing is allowed within the marine reserve that is located on the north side of Anacapa Island, including in the the Landing Cove. Also, no fishing is allowed (except for commercial and recreational lobster and pelagic finfish) in the marine conservation area on the north side of West Anacapa Island. Fishing is allowed outside these marine protected areas. To fish in Channel Islands National Park,m possession of a valid California state fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp is required and all California Department of Fish and Game regulations apply.
There is excellent wildlife viewing on Anacapa. A variety of seabirds can be seen throughout the year, including brown pelicans, cormorants, pigeon guillemots, and western gulls (gull nesting and chicks can be observed from the end of April through July). Seals and sea lions may also be viewed from Pinniped Point, Cathedral Cove, and the boat. During a normal year of rainfall, wildflowers are best viewed in late winter and spring. The brilliant yellow coreopsis flowers usually peak between late January and March. In addition, some plants like gumplant, buckwheat, poppies, and verbena continue to bloom during the summer. The only accessible site on Anacapa Island for tidepooling is at Frenchys Cove on West Anacapa Island. A limited number of trips are offered throughout the year by Island Packers.There is no access to Frenchys Cove or any other tidepools from East Anacapa.