Just about a dozen miles off the coast of Santa Barbara lies one of California’s great wildlife treasures: the Northern Channel Islands. Often considered the “Galapagos of North America” this small archipelago hosts one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and was a must-experience for us. 

We visited Anacapa Island, as it’s just the right size for a family day adventure. Remote with no electricity, fresh water, nor services of any kind, Anacapa retains its natural rugged beauty and is all about the opportunity to completely unplug and take in the time and views together.

After about an hour boat ride out (bonus for dolphin spotting!) we had a safe but lively unloading, as the boat doesn’t actually dock against the primitive scaffolding to reach the island rim. Rather, each passenger waits in single-file line for a wave to roll into the small landing cove and lift the boat up to a steel-rung ladder. With kids, this meant one parent had to be up on the “dock” while boat crew safely handed each child over with a well-timed wave lift. Lots of applause from other passengers as each of our littles were safely ashore! (Sorry there are no pictures of the rodeo, our hands were full!).

Once all upon solid ground, we scaled the 157 steep stairs up to the island plateau. Couldn’t be more proud of our little crew! From there we hiked (more, meandering really) the loop around the island, enjoyed lunch perched along the rocky western shore, watched the plethora of seabirds and enjoyed the ocean crashing into cliffs hundreds of feet below. Like most national parks we’ve visited, the kids worked hard to learn about the area and this was no exception with them earning their first Underwater Explorer Badge. 

The rest of our time in the area was spent learning more about underwater life at the Santa Barbara Sea Center and playing at the beach at our oceanside campground. When we say oceanside, we really mean oceanside – the front of the RV was covered in salt spray each morning as high tide brought the ocean nearly to our door.

It was also Easter weekend and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. We celebrated with a special Easter basket activity, Bible stories, and an Easter egg hunt.

Next stop: Point Reyes National Seashore

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