Santa Cruz Island (Channel Island Nationalpark, California) is absolutely worth visiting! To get there you have to take a ferry from Ventura Harbor. Ventura is about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles – I think you couldn´t get a bigger difference between two worlds with only driving 45 minutes and taking the ferry.
The only ferry that takes you to the Channel Island is the Island Packers Cruises.
If you decide to go to Santa Cruz Island you have 4 options:
- Daytrip to Scorpion Harbor
- Overnightstay at Scorpion Harbor – Campground directly located at the Harbor
- Daytrip to Prisoner Harbor
- Overnightstay at Prisoner Harbor -Backpacking Campground Del Norte
I decided to stay over night at Santa Cruz Island and sleep at the backpacking campground “Del Norte” – great choice 🙂 I chose this campground because it has only 5 campsites. Important to know: There is no water at the campground and you have to take everything out again, what you bring to the campground.
If you decide to stay overnight at Santa Cruz Island, you have to make a reservation for the campground first. Check your dates early if you travel in the high season!
I took the ferry from Ventura Harbor in the early morning in the middle of August. This trip was only one week before my hike down the Grand Canyon, so I saw it as kind of a last minute preparation as well.
The first stop at the Santa Cruz Island is always Scorpion Harbor to unload people going there. It took a while because the Pier at this Harbor was broken and all the person were transported with little boats to the beach. After this stop the boat arrived at Prisoners Harbor. On the beach I saw thousands of dead crabs: This seems to happen from time to time in California.
After I checked out the beach area of Santa Cruz Island I grabbed my backpack and started walking towards the Campground. It is a beautiful landscape and there are no people around, except those who arrived with you.
I loved the colours and the wide view. The trail to the campground is very easy to find. First you walk along an old navy road.Then you take it right (you can´t miss it) to the beautiful path to the Campground. You could also take the navy road to the Campground, it is longer but should be a bit more easy, from what some other backpackers told me.
The narrow path is absolutely gorgeous -you walk directly along the shore.
The path goes always uphill and downhill, so it is a strenous walk. Especially if you have to carry your camping gear with you 😉
When I reached the campground I was stunned. The view over Santa Cruz Island is just amazing! The campsites are really big, so every camper has his own little space.
After I put up my tent and stored my things (Yes, you have to store your food in the bear locker! Don´t be afraid of bears, but there are lovely,little foxes that would eat all of your stuff…) I went for another hike! I just wanted to walk around for a little while with no destination in mind. But when I saw this beach I decided that I should try to go there:
And so I walked, and walked… and walked. Didn´t look so far away, right? I had to keep a close eye on the time, because I had no flashlight with me and didn´t want to get stuck somewhere in the dark…
When I wasso close I met other campers, that were just returning. They told me to not get into the water, because they just saw some sharks. WOAH! So no little refreshment for me 😉
The beach is beautiful. I could have stayed there foreever and just listen to the sound of the waves breaching on the rocks. So calm.
I enjoyed the sun going down a little and then rushed back up as I saw the time. It was a good 1.5 hours walk back to my camp and it was a little more than 1 hour to sunset – ohoh…
So I started walking very fast. But I just couldn´t help to stop a few times along the way: The island foxes were coming out as the evening was coming. Those foxes are so beautiful.They are very kind and aremore afraid of you, so no need to worry. As you can see the island fox is grey, with red and white fur:
One of the foxes was following me for a mile or so. It was keeping its distance to me, but it was a lovely opportunity to take some pictures of the fox.
Getting closer to my camp I was able to see one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. Those colours were magnificent….
I reached the campground, when the last light was going away. Perfect timing 🙂 SoI ate my dinner in the dark and wondered what all those sounds were. Until I saw a few foxes sitting around me and waiting for me to drop my food! Not happening 😉 After I stored everything I went to my tent and watched the stars. How much I LOVE camping!
After waking up and eating some breakfast I made my way back to the harbor. I took the narrow path again and enjoyed the views one more time. A few foxes were around to say goodbye!
After reaching the harbor I took a ranger led hike to the Pelican Bay. We couldn´t make it all the way, because the ferry was arriving, but it was still beautiful. The landscape at this site was completely different: While the trail to the Campground was really opened up, the trail to the Pelican bay is not as wide and with a lot of shade. You are not allowed to do this hike without a ranger!
To sum this trip up: Santa Cruz Island is a great hiking adventure – so close to Los Angeles. Perfect for a weekend getaway!