Idly viewing a map of California I noticed a few small islands off the coast north of L.A. The writing over the northernmost islands grabbed my attention, ‘Channel Islands National Park’. This had to be investigated further with the aid of an ever helpful Google.
The islands were reachable by just one provider, operating out of Ventura harbour. I hadn’t planned to visit Ventura, but having recently decided to ditch my inland route from L.A. and instead stick to the coast as far as San Francisco, I thought another stop couldn’t hurt.
My motel looked suspiciously similar to the one used in TV series My Name is Earl. But the sticky carpet and extremely loud bedcover were more than worth it to experience nature at its best.
The boat takes over an hour to chug across to the islands across the Santa Barbara Channel. I’d noted on their website that it was possible to see marine life on the crossing, but having spent a half-day whale watching further down the coast and seeing a solitary fin whale on the horizon, I didn’t allow my hopes to raise.
How wrong I was! I doubt I’ll see as many whales again in my lifetime as I did on that day. On the journey out a cow and calf humpback whale were playing with us, human watching. Swimming back and forth under our boat as we stopped to bob about and take in the spectacle. A migrating gray whale also put in an appearance on our outward journey.
On the island my wildest hopes of seeing one of the indigenous island foxes where fulfilled! He pottered about casually, not in the least bit bothered by the excitement he stirred up. The size of a cat, this is one unbelievably cute animal.
On our return journey we saw two more humpback cow and calf pairs, and two blue whales. At one point we were surrounded by whales on 3 sides of the boat! Seeing around 1000 dolphins, many with yong leaping at their sides, was the icing on the cake. I admit to shedding a small tear when the blue whales made an appearance, what a day!