Off the Beaten Path: Santa Rosa Island~

Endless, pristine beaches with no one on them (click/tap to enlarge).

My son chooses a favored spot,

and prepares to take a very long nap.

Santa Rosa Island,

in Channel Islands National Park in Southern California,

is like a distant, undiscovered paradise. It is only a three hour bumpy small boat ride from mainland California, but it feels worlds away.

It is the only place in the world, besides my hometown in La Jolla, where Torrey Pine Tree forests grow naturally.

This is our boat leaving Santa Rosa Island with Santa Cruz Island in the background. The islands are suprisingly large, unpopulated and completely undeveloped. The waters around them team with wildlife, including blue whales and the largest population of multiple species of dolpins in the world. Super pods are often encountered here and I have been in the midst of them several times, including yesterday, which is a thrilling experience. I will show you some dolphin and whale photos soon.

Wild flowers are still growing profusely in mid-June!

The islands are home to lots of fauna too, including Channel Islands Foxes, which live no where else in the world, are tiny, adorable, and unafraid of humans. Photos of them soon.

What the islands may lack in modern conveniences,

they make up for in spades with unspoiled splendor.

Cheers to you from Santa Rosa Island~

240 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path: Santa Rosa Island~

  1. A beautiful place Cindy, and love the colors and strata levels on those bare patches at the beach and up higher in some of the pictures. No wonder it is a National Park, it needs to stay in that natural beauty. Mind you, that ‘out house’ brings a smile, even if an old intrusion/protrusion…so to speak ๐Ÿคฃโค๏ธ๐Ÿ™

    1. Yes. It made me smile too. And I agree with you, the rock structure is amazing and there are literally thousands of caves. We went into a huge one in a boat that was amazing แƒ“

  2. What a wonderful place! Hard to believe it’s not developed. Are the islands environmentally protected?
    Great shots of an inspiring place. Thanks Cindy!

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful place, Cindy. Your photo collection is stunning. Is it uninhabited because itโ€™s protected? Iโ€™m looking forward to seeing more of your pictures. Cheers.

    1. Thanks veru much Lynette. Yes, federal protection efforts began in the 1930’s and continued into the 1990’s. It is now a fully protected National Park. Access is limited by limited small boat access and lack of lodging on the islands. Camping is allowed, but primitive. All of this serves to protect the islands from people แƒ“

    1. Yes. Hard to believe California and the Federal Government actually succeeded in protecting these islands, but they did. Federal protection/preservation efforts began in the 1930’s, and continued up until the 1990’s, so the effort took time and patience. It is so spectactularly worth the effort. They are precious time capsules แƒ“

  4. Oh boy… first glance I thought, what’s Cindy doing on my beach in Monterey? But then, oh yea, a much much bigger beach than mine. Thus the adventure began. I’m in love with this place. Short look-up said two residents! Kinda far far to the grocery, but what land of heaven to be living every day. Thank you so much for sharing all of those (biggie) photos – I always blow them up all the way. Looks like interesting geology too if I were a better student. I look forward to dolphins and foxes too. (I once wanted to be a dolphin researcher, but didn’t materialize.)
    You sure do travel well Cindy!

    1. So happy you are enjoying the island Neil, and yes, these islands have just the amount of people I prefer, hardly any!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers to you my friend and thanks for stopping by แƒ“

    1. Amen. The National Parks do a pretty good job in protecting their conserved lands, and so far they are doing a good job with The Channel Islands. Access is restricted and there is no lodging, so these are effective limiting factors แƒ“

    1. I hear you Margaret and appreciate your concern. Hopefully my blog is small enouogh to not cause any sort of significant run. Also, the difficulty and limited nature of island access, the primitive and limited camping facilities, and the fact that much of the islands remain inaccessible, will all continue to protect these precious beauties.

      1. Excellent. I wasn’t entirely serious of course. But once, so many tourist hot-spots were humble villages or whatever of little consequence. Inaccessibility remains an asset for many of these areas!

      1. They’re certainly fascinating! The papers I was reading were about how humans, both ancient and modern, have affected the ecosystems on the Channel Islands, and how scientists can track those changes using (among other things) archaeological data.

  5. Pennsivity

    Ah, Cindy, youโ€™re a lifesaver, .,.Iโ€™m systematically staring at one lovely photo after another,.. and absorbing the beauty and peace shownโ€ฆ.โœจ๐Ÿฆ‹โœจ

  6. I’m loving the off the beaten path series! I had no idea this island was out there. I’m not a huge fan of fighting crowds while on vacation, and these are just the kind of places I’d enjoy.

  7. So wonderful and peaceful. In a world of humans gone mad there are still places the madness doesn’t reach and peace on Earth prevails.

    I really must do this soon as the Channel Islands are within sight of where I live in Ventura.

    Thank you Cindy.

    1. I so love your first sentence Steve! Sums up my feelings exactly. Try a trip to Santa Rosa Island first you will cirumnavigate Santa Cruz island, and sail along the coast of Anacapa, so you get three islands in one, and lots of wildlife on the way แƒ“
      แƒ“

  8. I hope they stay unpopulated and pristine! The only off shore island we visited when we lived in CA was Santa Catalina, which of course is not pristine and very populated.

  9. Itโ€™s so pristine. Iโ€™m not sure I could manage the bumpy boat ride, but the dolphin and whale encounters are tempting. I canโ€™t wait to see your next set of photos.

    1. I have yet to cross the Santa Barbara Channel without seeing whales and super-pods of dolphins. I have heard that when orcas are hunting in the area, marine mammals disappear for a few days everytime แƒ“

      1. It’s a dream of mine to see a pod of dolphins. I suffer from motion sickness, so it’s been problematic to whale watch close to home in the Monterey Bay. I’ve heard tales. I tried (twice) to go on a whale watching excursion in Hawaii many years ago, but both trips were cancelled due to bad weather. I finally took a trip with Mike out of Victoria, Canada, but alas only a few distant sightings. I’ll keep trying!

        1. Sorry. I know how bad this can be. My son experiences extreme sea sickness. He used the scopolamine patch on this trip and we had a very rough crossing. He had no sea sickness at all. He is going with us to Antarctica soon, so this was a test to see if it worked and it did. Maybe this might work for you?

          1. Thank you for sharing, Cindy. I’ve not tried this before. Does it require a prescription? I’m so glad it worked for your son so he can join you on your next adventure. In Canada I used a child’s dose of Dramamine and it helped. The adult dose knocks me out, ginger never helped, and even the pressure bands failed. I’ll definitely get more info.

  10. Oh, Cindy! Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been trying to talk Mike into booking a flight to Santa Barbara so we can visit Channel Islands. Santa Rosa Island looks so gorgeous. I’ve never seen pictures like yours before. I am looking forward to your next posts.

  11. This place looks like an oasis when the storms of life are raging.
    Marvelous images as always – who knew this existed but you and your son??
    Thank you for sharing this little bit of happiness still available on our planet!!

    1. Thank you Sheila! There are a few places where I can get a true sense of old Southern California unspoiled nature, one is here, another is Camp Pendleton, and a third is The Holler. I crave these places as over zealous development has ruined so much of the state I was born in แƒ“

  12. I believe I have told you before that I lived in California, between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, when I was a kid. I have never heard of these islands! Thank you so much for sharing! It looks beautiful!

    1. You are so welcome and yes, you did tell me you lived in Cali. The process of converting the islands to a national park took decades, starting in the 1930’s as portions moved from private, to conservancy, to park service hands. They weren’t available for public access for much of this time. They still filter access which is a very good thing. You can read more about all this here: https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/historyculture/park-history.htm แƒ“

    1. Hi Raymond! Wonderful to hear from you. You would not believe the pristine clarity of the water. You literally can see forever. It is truly special แƒ“

  13. Curt Mekemson

    I note that there are primitive campgrounds, Cindy. Have you ever taken advantage of them? Beautiful area. Thanks for the photos. โ€“Curt

    1. Thanks Curt & yes! There are campgrounds. There is running water on Santa Cruz but none on San Miguel. Stay length depends upon boat schedules and the wind. Santa Rosa and San Miguel are windy at times. If the sea is rough you will be staying longer! You can also visit by charter boat or yacht and explore all aspects of the islands at leisure แƒ“

  14. It is wonderful to see an island that that preserved. I have read something about the Channel Islands somewhere but can’t remember if it was fiction or non-fiction. Lovely photographs!

    1. These islands are precious California unspoiled natural paradises. There seems to be dedicated effort to not change this which is exceptionally good news! แƒ“

  15. Unspoiled splendor, indeed! Thank you, Cindy, I am loving your Off the Beaten Path posts. The wildflowers must be because of the rain, right? Looking forward to your next post.

    1. Thanks much Jennie! Happy you are enjoying the series my friend, and yes the rains this year are still producing glorious wildflowers. Be safe and well Jennie แƒ“

  16. Although I’ve never been there, I’ve always assumed the Channel Islands would be crowded with tourists, being relatively close to LA. Nice to hear that’s not the case. I guess three hours in a small boat in a big ocean is a deterrent.

    I look forward to seeing the super pod and foxes.

    1. Yes. The abscence of any facilities, lodging, toilets, food concessionaires etc is also daunting to people who depend on these comforts. Happy you want to see the pods and foxes Dave. They thrill me to no end! Take good care my friend แƒ“

    1. Thank Emma & pleased you enjoyed. It is especially unusual for The Southern California Coast. Other parts of the state, The Southern California Deserts, The Sierras, and far Northern California are also wild, remote and under visited. แƒ“

  17. Hmmโ€ฆSanta Rose to the occasion and Santa Cruzes the islands. I guess Christmas comes early for some folks! Lol! Spectacular shots as always, my friend! เฌ˜(เฉญ*หŠแต•ห‹)เฉญ* เฉˆโ™กโ€งโ‚Šหš

    1. Thank you very much for alerting me to the missing share button. I just added it. I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness Charles. Take good care แƒ“

    1. I was addicted to this book as a child. The author, Scott O’Dell lived in my hometown in La Jolla. He was a serious conservationist and got in an argument with my mother once at a party. (I’m sure he was in the right!) Your right about it being historical fiction, and I’m sure you know it was loosely based on a real Native American woman who lived alone on the island. I loved her and her dog Rontu. I found this on Scott O’Dell which you might find interesting, “In the life of the Lost Woman of San Nicolas, he saw a way to make a statement about an issue that was important to him. “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” he wrote, “began in anger, anger at the hunters who invade the mountains where I live and who slaughter everything that creeps or walks or flies.” The book became a best-seller. It won the American Library Association’s Newbery Medal, as well as a half-dozen other awards. Scott Oโ€™Dell died in 1989 and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean off La Jolla, California.”

      1. Cindy, it’s a fantastic book! We have a copy of it but heard the audible version of it and loved it. Rontu became a beloved character and the way she survived living out there by herself is astounding. It was sad to hear that she was found and then passed a few months after coming in contact with people at the missionary.
        Wow, how cool that it was one of your favorite books and the author lived in your hometown! Thank you for sharing the statement. So true…it was disturbing how the story began with the sea otter traders and how her father died.
        I’m going to read this book with the kids and share what you told me about him. When they learn that the author lived in San Diego, it’ll stir more interest in them. Thank you Cindy!!

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