Explore The Channel Islands Of Santa Barbara

The Channel Islands are an eight-island chain that is located off the coast of Southern California in the Pacific Ocean. Five of those islands are designated as a part of Channel Islands National Park, and the waters surrounding these islands comprise the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

This Sanctuary is one of 14 marine protected areas that are federally-designated and administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA uses an ecosystem-based management approach that promotes long-term conservation.

The Sanctuary encompasses 1,110 square nautical miles, also measured as 1,470 square miles, and is a place for species that are close to extinction, maritime heritage artifacts, habitats, shipwrecks, and is home to sea life of multiple sizes and species. Recreational and commercial activities including shipping on tankers and huge cargo ships also occur here in a major shipping lane. Additionally, the Channel has the largest natural oil seepage in the world, Coal Oil Point, and numerous oil fields with substantial reserves.

Santa Barbara Island

This one-square-mile island with its 639 acres, formed by underwater volcanic activity, is the smallest of the Channel Islands but has a rich cultural history, blooming colorful flowers, and more. Located 38 miles from the mainland’s closest point, it greets visitors and hikers with a giant twin-peaked Mesa, steep cliffs, sea caves, and more than five miles of trails. The U.S. military makes use of the islands as weapons test sites, training grounds, and a strategic defensive location.

You can cross the channel in an excursion boat that takes visitors to visit the island, where you can watch whales, elephant seals, harbor seals, and sea lions whose raucous barking can be heard from most areas of the island. Sea Lion Rookery, Elephant Seal Cove, and Webster Point are excellent overlooks with magnificent views. Watching sea life, wildlife, plant life, and 14 species of nesting land birds and western gulls provide entertainment for nature lovers.

The Landing Cove on this island is also an ideal place of good underwater visibility for snorkeling, diving, swimming, and kayaking circumnavigating the island’s five-mile coastline.

If you’re visiting Santa Barbara and want to take a day trip to The Channel Islands, consider staying at Cheshire Cat Inn. Its┬álocation is close to both downtown Santa Barbara and the beach where tour companies will set off to the islands.

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