It’s time to sail away and hit the trails with your little ones for National Parks and Recreation Month! We have all heard about taking long weekend journeys to Yellowstone National Park or Joshua Tree National Park, but what about Channel Islands National Park? For some quality beach time, snorkeling, and camping head to one of the five Channel Islands!
It seems that this year the school year is creeping up on us faster than usual. The last final weeks with your kids should be spent together(and away from the screen)! Heading off to a local national park is a cheaper and much simpler alternative to a planned-out vacation requiring airfare. Plus, spending some time outdoors is always much more refreshing than a resort! Be spontaneous and take one of the transporting Island Packers for a weekend getaway!
Why Channel Islands? The easiest answer is that they are absolutely beautiful! From the expansive beaches on San Miguel island to snorkeling in the Landing Cove in Santa Barbara Island, each island offers different sights to see. The five islands are also home to 2,000 plant and animal species and 145 species that are found nowhere else. So while hiking with your little ones, you can take in the natural (and rare) beauty.
The real question is, which island to choose? There is one established campground per island.
Campsites can be found above Landing Cove on Santa Barbara Island, on the east islet of Anacapa, at Scorpion Ranch in Santa Cruz, at Water Canyon in Santa Rosa, and above Cuyler Harbor in San Miguel. Keep in mind that if you decide to camp, there are no amenities or stores on any of the islands. But, don’t worry! Just because you can not buy your food there does not mean you can not camp. Take the opportunity to take a family outing to Costco to stock up on s’mores materials.
Anacapa island’s rugged shores provide great homes for California sea lions and from either the Cathedral Cove or Pinniped Point viewpoint, you and your child can observe. Additionally, the tide pools and vast kelp forests which allow for snorkeling and kayaking allow you to get close to the local animals!
Next we have Santa Cruz Island which has beaches, tide pools, and even a giant sea cave! Go with your child to the Painted Cave (one of the largest sea caves in the world)! It’s nearly a quarter mile long and is called the “Painted Cave” because of the colorful rocks and algae!
There is also Santa Rosa Island which hosts some beautiful sandy beaches and vast kelp forests. There are spectacular hikes such as the route to Water Canyon beach or the Black Mountain path.
Don’t forget San Miguel Island! From Point Bennett, you can see seals and sea lions breed, pup, and walk around. You might also see the island fox who is the wee size of a house cat! However, the marine animals that you can see on the island are MUCH bigger (such as dolphins, killer whales, and blue whales).
Finally, there is Santa Barbara Island which offers sightings of the northern elephant seals. From nearly anywhere on the island, you can hear the seals barking. Additionally, you are able to dive into the fun at Landing Cove. Try to spot the orange Garibaldi fish or bright sea stars while snorkeling at Landing Cove.
No matter which island you choose, a fabulous time with your little one is guaranteed. Consider it a family trip on a budget or just a spontaneous getaway! Either way, you and your child will walk away enlightened by the experience of being outdoors and together!