California, North America, United States

Camping 101 on Anacapa Island

May 12, 2015
California - Anacapa Island - Around the World with Justin

Around the World with Justin
I love camping! So I wanted to kick off summer with a camping trip in Southern California, but I didn’t want just any old campground. I wanted something rugged, remote and off the grid. As I started my search I was overwhelmed by the number of options near Los Angeles, but quickly realized a majority of them were already booked. And then a light bulb went off in my head – The Channel Islands! I had always wanted to explore this group of five islands off the coast of California, so I quickly narrowed my search finally settling on the smallest and closest, Anacapa Island.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
Around the World with Justin
If you don’t own a boat (or know someone who owns a boat) and have a permit to privately get to the Channel Islands, then options are limited – there’s only 1! Island Packers runs boats from Ventura and Oxnard ports with different rates for day-trippers and campers. The adult camper rate to East Anacapa Island from Oxnard is $79.00 per person.

Travel TipIt doesn’t matter what campsite you “reserve” because on the island it’s first-come, first-served.

If you’re camping, make sure there’s an available campsite BEFORE booking your boat! Anacapa Island camping has a total of 7 campsites and you can reserve them through Reserve America for $15.00 per night.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
One thing to be cautious of – boats get canceled due to weather conditions, like high winds and big swells. On the Wednesday before my original trip I got an email warning me about this, but I dismissed it. At 5:30am on the day of my departure my boat was canceled and I was so bummed! Luckily Island Packers offers full refunds for canceled trips and I just rebooked for the following weekend.

Around the World with Justin
We took the Island Packers boat to East Anacapa Island at 9:30am on a Saturday morning. Anacapa Island is divided into three parts – East, Middle & West – and it took us about 1 hour to get to the East side. When I first saw the island from a distance I was immediately happy that we had chosen to spend a little more money to forego a more traditional campground. We had truly escaped Los Angeles and our Anacapa Island camping adventure had begun!

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Travel TipDay visitors leave by 3:00pm so relax when you arrive! Set up your tent, take a nap and once they leave the island is all yours!

Once on the island, the 9 campers were given the lowdown of camping rules – no fires, carry out your trash, be careful by cliffs (especially at night), etc. – and were set free into the wild. After we pitched our tent and relaxed, we decided to explore the 2 miles of trails that were well-marked and easy to navigate.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
To the east we checked out the lighthouse and Visitor’s Center which had a lot of cool information about the island’s history, its lighthouse and its wildlife.  From a lookout point we took in the incredible view: a lighthouse on top of stunning cliffs jutting into the water. It was like a “Cape Cod meets Lost” portrait.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
Heading west, the trails made their way through open fields to the cliff’s edge with views of the Middle and West islands. As soon as I saw the cliffs in the distance my mouth dropped – it was gorgeous!

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
A bonus to Anacapa Island camping was watching the sunset! I would highly recommend making your way to the west side to Inspiration Point to watch the sun set behind the islands.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California sunset aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California sunset aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Travel TipDepending on weather conditions, water sports are an option. You can rent kayaks at the Channel Islands Kayak Center, snorkel or just go for a swim.

One thing you MUST understand about Anacapa Island camping is there are THOUSANDS of seabirds and you are THEIR guest. If watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” scares you, think twice about going! Although the birds won’t harm you, they’ll squawk at you and they’re EVERYWHERE. We visited the first week of May (nesting season!), so tons of Western Gulls were chilling on their nests protecting their eggs. We didn’t mind them and it felt authentic to experience the island along with its natural inhabitants.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
Around the World with Justin
There are a total of 7 campsites – first-come, first-served. You can secure a site at Reserve America for just $15.00 per night.  Each site has a picnic table, a metal food locker and an open plot of land for your tent. We snagged site number 7 which was the most isolated and had the best Anacapa Island camping view.

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
Around the World with Justin
When thinking about camping staycations in Southern California, definitely consider Anacapa Island camping! Getting to the island, hiking around awestruck by its gorgeous cliffs, living among the birds and camping in the middle of the Pacific Ocean were just a few of the highlights. What I loved most was Anacapa Island camping offered a rustic and remote 36-hour “digital detox.” I gladly turned off my phone and Anacapa provides an adventurous place to connect with nature, yourself and people you care about. And what’s even better is it was pretty cheap! We spent about $150 per person for two of us for the entire weekend – transportation, campsite and food – a cheap price tag for a memorable excursion practically in our own backyard!

Anacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.comAnacapa Island camping Channel Islands California aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

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7 Comments

  • Reply Amanda May 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Amazing pics – the weekend looked incredible! Definitely makes the most of California’s natural beauty.

    • Reply Justin Walter May 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you Amanda! It was incredible and there are so many great outdoor adventure options in California. I love it!

  • Reply Palash Ghosh June 28, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Trip with friends to such fun filled place was really amazing. Thanks for sharing these photos.

    • Reply Justin Walter July 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      You’re welcome! Thanks for the comment and I can’t wait to check out more of the Channel Islands.

  • Reply Lisa Anderson August 21, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Your pictures are beautiful and capture what Anacapa is really about…..isolation from a hectic world, only 11 miles away! As a naturalist/educator/crew member with Island Packers, I take pictures every day I work. The beauty of the islands is like no other! It never gets old…even after 13 years with Island Packers and years before, owning a dive boat business diving the Channel Islands.

    • Reply Justin Walter August 21, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Lisa, thank you so much for your kind words. You’re spot on with describing Anacapa Island! I loved my trip to the island and can’t wait to explore more of the Channel Islands. Next time I go, I hope to meet you at Island Packers.

  • Reply Blaine October 4, 2015 at 9:56 am

    So many good posts here!

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