"The Galapagos Of North America," are composed of eight islands that make up The Channel Islands just off the Southern California coast. You can see several of these islands from the California mainland, however, many people never set foot on the islands to experience how magical they truly are. San Clemente and San Nicolas Islands are controlled by the military and access is not allowed but five of the islands make up Channel Islands National Park (Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel). Catalina Island is the only island accessible to the public that is not part of the national park. These islands have many endemic plants and animals which can be found nowhere else on the planet. There are several ways to get to and from the islands, Catalina Island is the most accessible with ferry services from Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point, it's also accessible by air via plane or helicopter charter with IEX Helicopters. Catalina is the only Channel Island with a town open to the public, known as Avalon. The other islands are much more isolated which is a great thing if you're looking to explore without many people around. Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands are easily accessible from Ventura and Santa Barbara aboard a ferry with Island Packers who offers trips to all five of the Channel Islands National Parks. You can take a single day trip there and back or camp out overnight.
Did you know the oldest known human remains in North America were discovered on Channel Islands? The Islands have lots of history dating back to the original inhabitants of what is now California. In more recent history, some of the islands had ranches with livestock grazing them before they were inducted into the national park system.