Channel Islands

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The Channel Islands are a chain of eight main islands and several minor islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. Five of the islands are part of the Channel Islands National Park. Four of the islands are part of Santa Barbara County, two are part of Ventura County, and two are part of Los Angeles County. Santa Catalina Island, which is part of Los Angeles County, is the only island with a significant permanent non-military population. The headquarters for the Channel Islands National Park is located in Ventura. Tours of the islands are available.

 

Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island or Catalina Island is one of the Channel Islands located off the coast of Southern California near the Outer Santa Barbara Channel. It is part of Los Angeles County. The island is approximately 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest point. At the 2010 census, the population was 4,096, of which more than 90% lived in Avalon, the only incorporated city on the island. The local economy is based upon tourism. Public transportation is available by boat from San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Dana Point. Helicopter service is also available. Mount Orizaba is the highest peak on Santa Catalina Island at 2,097 feet.

 

San Clemente Island

San Clemente Island is the southernmost island of the Channel Islands located off of the coast of Southern California in Los Angeles County. San Clemente Island is owned by the United States Navy and is not accessible to the public. While the island has no civilian population, the number of Navy personnel average about 300. San Clemente Island is approximately 24 miles long.

 

Naval Auxiliary Landing Field

San Clemente Island

The Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF), also known as Frederick Sherman Field, is a military airport on San Clemente Island. San Clemente is the Channel Island furthest south. It is approximately 21 miles long and 4.5 miles across at its widest point. San Clemente Island is south of Catalina Island and west of North San Diego County.

 

Thirst Benchmark

Thirst Benchmark is a 1,965 foot mountain peak on San Clemente Island which is off the southern coast of California and one of the Channel Islands.

 

San Nicolas Island

San Nicolas Island is the most remote of the Channel Islands and is part of Ventura County. It is south of Santa Barbara, west of Oceanside, and southwest of Santa Catalina Island. San Nicolas Island is owned and administered by the United States Navy and is used by the federal government.

 

Anacapa Island

Anacapa Island, sometimes referred to as the Anacapas, consists of a series of three narrow islets running east-west for about six miles, just east of Santa Cruz Island. The total area consists of only 1.1 square miles. The west island peaks at 930 feet, the middle island peaks at 325 feet, and the east island peaks at 250 feet. The most notable feature is Arch Rock which is a forty foot high natural bridge. The last United States Lighthouse was constructed on Anacapa Island in 1932. Anacapa Island is approximately 14 miles off the coast of Ventura.

 

Anacapa Island Light

The Anacapa Island Light, also known as the Anacapa Island Lighthouse, is located on the highest point on East Anacapa Island, at the east entrance to the Santa Barbara Channel. Constructed in 1932, it was the last lighthouse to be built on the west coast of the United States.

 

Santa Barbara Island

Santa Barbara Island is the smallest of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California and is part of the Channel Islands National Park. The island is approximately 640 acres with the highest point being Signal Hill at 635 feet. Santa Barbara Island is in Ventura County in the Outer Santa Barbara Channel, a few miles northwest of Catalina Island.

 

Shag Rock

Shag Rock is a small island off the coast of Santa Barbara Island measuring only about one acre.

 

Sutil Island

Sutil Island is located off the southwest shore of Santa Barbara Island and measures about 12 acres.

 

San Miguel Island

San Miguel Island is the westernmost Channel Island and is part of Channel Islands National Park. It is southwest of Santa Barbara and directly south of Lompoc. The island, which is approximately 8 miles long and 3.7 miles wide, is in Santa Barbara County which is the county adjacent to Ventura County. The island is uninhabited except for campers and tourists. The highest point is San Miguel Hill which is 831 feet. Submerged rocks and extreme weather make the coastline very dangerous for small boats.

 

Prince Island

Prince Island is located near San Miguel Island and measures about 35 acres.

 

Santa Rosa Island

Santa Rosa Island is the second largest of the Channel Islands located off the coast of Southern California and is part of the Channel Islands National Park. It is approximately 26 miles southeast of Santa Barbara and directly south of Solvang. The island is in Santa Barbara County which is the county adjacent to Ventura County. It is inhabited by only a few people. The highest point is at Vail Peak at 1,589 feet. Air charter service is available for hikers and campers from Camarillo Airport and transportation by boat is available from mainland visitor centers in Ventura, Oxnard, and Santa Barbara.

 

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is the largest of the Channel Islands located off the coast of Southern California in Santa Barbara County, and is part of the Channel Islands National Park. The island is approximately 22 miles long and from 2 to 6 miles wide. The highest point is Devils Peak at 2,452 feet. The island is located 25 miles south of Santa Barbara and southwest of Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Santa Cruz Island was formerly the largest privately owned island owned off the continental United States, but is now owned by the National Park Service and Nature Conservancy. Transportation is available by boat from mainland visitor centers in Ventura, Oxnard, and Santa Barbara.

 

Mount Diablo – Devils Peak

Mount Diablo, also known as Devils Peak, is the highest peak in the Channel Islands off the southern coast of California. The 2,452 foot peak is located on Santa Cruz Island within the Channel Islands National Park on land owned by The Nature Conservancy. Mount Diablo is the highest mountain on any U.S. island in the contiguous 48 states.

 

Cortes Bank – Bishop Rock

Cortes Bank is a barely submerged island known as a seamount located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. It is approximately 96 miles south of the Los Angeles coastal neighborhood of San Pedro and 47 miles southwest of San Clemente Island. San Diego is to the east. It is the southern most feature in the Channel Islands and is part of Los Angeles County. During the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago, Cortes Bank was a small island. It is believed that the Chumash Indians visited or inhabited the island thousands of years ago when they inhabited San Clemente Island. The island would have been visible from the higher elevations of San Clemente Island on a clear day. During low tides, Bishop Rock rises three to six feet above the surface of the ocean. It is marked by a warning buoy. Cortes Bank is a highly popular area with divers and surfers.

 

Begg Rock

Begg Rock is located approximately sixty miles off the coast of Ventura County, California and about eight miles northwest of the most western point on San Nicolas Island which is one of the Channel Islands in Ventura County. It averages 15 feet high and is surrounded by a reef that extends more than 100 yards in all directions. Begg Rock is a famous diving location, however, there is no point on which to land.

 

Begg Rock State Marine Reserve

Begg Rock State Marine Reserve is a marine protected area covering approximately 38 square miles around Begg Rock. The taking of any marine life from the designated area is prohibited by law. There are 36 marine protected areas in California monitored by the California Fish and Game Commission.

 

Witmat Island

For thousands of years, the Chumash People occupied Witmat, now known as Santa Rosa Island, which is off the coast of Southern California and part of the Channel Islands. The Chumash called the island Witmat, which refers to the redwood logs that drifted in large quantities from northern California onto the island’s beaches. The Chumash Indians used these logs to construct plank boats which were used for fishing and transportation. The name of the island was changed to Santa Rosa Island after the arrival of the Spanish.

 

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park is a United States National Park that consists of 5 of the 8 Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Channel Islands National Park became a U.S. National Monument in 1938, a National Biosphere Reserve in 1976, and a U.S. National Park in 1980.

The Channel Islands are home to more than 2,000 plant and animal species, of which 145 are found only on the Channel Islands. It is for this reason that the Channel Islands are often called the "North American Galapagos Islands."

Transportation to the islands is available from mainland visitor centers in Ventura, Oxnard, and Santa Barbara. Excursion boats cross the Santa Barbara Channel regularly taking visitors to the Channel Islands National Park and for whale watching which is becoming very popular.

 

The Channel Islands

At one time, the islands were home to many sea otters, sea lions, and seals. Fur trappers decimated the animals during the nineteenth century.

San Miguel and San Nicholas Islands have been under U.S. Navy administration since shortly before World War II. These islands were used as bombing and missile test ranges. Only San Nicholas Island continues to be used for that purpose.

 

Channel Islands – From North to South

Island Acres County
     

San Miguel

8,960 Santa Barbara
     

Santa Rosa

53,760 Santa Barbara
     

Santa Cruz

61,440 Santa Barbara
     

Anacapa

717 Ventura
     

Santa Barbara

640 Santa Barbara
     

San Nicolas

14,080 Ventura

Santa Catalina

48,000 Los Angeles
     

San Clemente

35,840 Los Angeles
     

 

Anacapa Island Archaeological District

The Anacapa Island Archaeological District is a 700 acre historic district on Anacapa Island, in the Channel Islands. The site was occupied by the Chumash People for thousands of years. Today, the remains of a Chumash village, animal facility, and manufacturing facility exist on the island. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

 

 

The Chumash People occupied San Miguel Island, Santa Cruz Island, and Santa Rosa Island for thousands of years before Spain and later Mexico claimed the area.

 

Historical Timeline

Pacific Realtors has created a historical timeline for those having an interest in the history of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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