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Channel Islands National Park is undoubtedly one of the most unique and breathtaking in the country. Five islands make up the archipelago and surrounding marine sanctuary that's long seclusion from the mainland has created unique animals, plants and archaeological resources found nowhere else. The islands are also home to the oldest dated human remains in North America—Arlington Springs Man (13,000 BP).
The entire island consists of eight islands broken into two groups: the Northern Channel Islands and the Southern Channel Islands. The Northern Islands consist of Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa while San Clemente, San Nicolas, Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina make up the Southern Islands.
In 1980, Channel Islands National Park was established, including San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles off of those islands.
Santa Barbara provides the perfect hub for your Channel Island exploration. Take a guided sea kayak tour of the islands or enjoy a hike along the remarkable and untouched coastlines. The ferry ride to and from the national park is a highlight in and of itself as the Santa Barbara Channel is home to a variety of marine life, including dolphins, whales, sea lions and many sea birds.
Once within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for the endemic wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. You're likely to spot the small Island Fox and maybe the Channel Islands Spotted Skunk. Birdwatchers flock to the islands in the hopes of seeing the Island Scrub Jay and Ashy Storm Petrel.
Don't forget your snorkel and mask! The Channel Islands offer one of the richest marine biospheres on the planet and the clear blue water makes it easy to catch a glimpse of colorful fish like Garibaldi, the California Moray Eel and Bat Ray, not to mention the hundreds of playful and curious sea lions who frequently surface just feet from your sea kayak.
A visit to the Channel Islands is a must for anyone looking to experience the area's incredible natural beauty in a place that is truly unlike any other.
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