Outdoor lovers flock to Ventura, California, for its surrounding mountains, water, wildlife and nearby Channel Islands
(Ventura, CA) – Tucked between two rivers and situated between California’s Coastal Range and the Pacific Ocean, Ventura is an outdoor lover’s dream – whether you are an avid cyclist, love to scuba dive, rock climb, kayak or hike – or like nothing better than bird watching in untamed estuaries. The location? Ventura – the quintessential California beach town and one of the state’s most popular surfing destinations. It is the home of such famous surf spots as ‘Surfer’s Point’, ‘California Street’ and ‘Rincon.’
Ventura is also the gateway to the Channel Islands National Park and the Los Padres National Forest.
Head for the hills, great trails and steep gorges abound, plus Ventura is the headquarters for Patagonia, Inc., one of the worlds premier mountaineering outfitters and rock climbing manufacturers along with Custom surfboards so being well outfitted is no problem!
For cycling enthusiasts, there’s a choice – ride along Ventura’s vast stretches of uncrowded beaches on the 13-mile coastal trail or head inland alongside the famed Ventura River Trail to Ojai.
The River Trail is truly unique in that it traverses several ecological zones from beach to coastal chaparral and upper chaparral in a relative short distance, plus much of the trail is ornamented with art installations created by area sculptors and assemblage artists.
The Ventura River also provides habitat to many resident and migratory birds. Strategically located on the Pacific Flyway and situated between two estuaries, there is ample opportunity in Ventura for excellent birding and the chance to spot a multitude of species.
Indeed, from the abundance of whales, dolphins and seals at Channel Islands National Park and the avian species at nearby wetlands, to the emergence of the monarch butterfly in winter, Ventura is rich in wildlife and the natural settings that attract both resident and migratory creatures.
Every fall, hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies flee their summer homes up north for the warmth of the eucalyptus groves along California’s central coast – Ventura’s among them.
Monarchs travel up to 2,000 miles to reach their winter retreats, returning to the same trees in Ventura year after year, where they gather in clusters waiting for spring to arrive.
Ready for a breathtaking excursion out to Channel Islands National Park? Unsullied vistas and rare indigenous plants and animals make the boat trip well worthwhile – as does the marine life you’ll spot from deck.
The official concessionaire to the Channel Islands, Island Packers has been operating out of the Ventura Harbor since 1968. Operating half-day, full-day and overnight trips to Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands year-round, they expand to the outer islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara in the summer and fall. “The islands are pristine, protected and primitive,” says Cheryl Connally, co-owner of Island Packers. “And absolutely beautiful. At the islands there are naturalist-guided walks, hiking, sea cave kayaking, camping, and diving available, but the trip to the islands and back alone is just as exciting as the destination.”
Endangered Blue Whales are just one of the animals sighted off the Ventura coast June through September. Considered the largest animals on earth, blue whales are attracted to the Channel Islands’ areas of nutrient upwelling where they feast on as much as 1,000 pounds of krill per day. December welcomes the grey whales as they migrate along the California coast on their way to give birth in the warm waters of Mexico. And that’s not all — there are more than 27 varieties of seals and dolphins inhabiting the waters surrounding the Channel Islands. Hundreds of common and bottle-nosed dolphins are seen year-round in the waters off Ventura. California sea lions and harbor seals make their homes on the beaches of Anacapa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel Islands, with as many as 25,000 arriving each winter to mate and pup.
Not enough time for it all? Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center in the Ventura Harbor is a great way to learn all about the region and the islands through displays, ranger talks, films and a live marine animal tide pool. Kayak rentals there also provide an opportunity to quietly glide past seals, dolphins, and birds found right in the harbor.
In Ventura, outdoor lovers of all ages and abilities will find al fresco adventure, recreation and a chance to see wildlife in natural environments within reach for everyone. Several local hotels offer packages that include a discounted rate and island trips or guided activities.
OUTFITTERS and ORGANIZATIONS
Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau – 101 S. California St. Hotel/motel information, maps, guide books and a very friendly staff. Exit Hwy 101 N. at California St. or 101 S. at Main St. to California St. and turn right. The Visitors Center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(800) 483-6215, www.ventura-usa.com.
Ventura Bike Depot, Inc. – Specializing in rentals including Suspension Mountain Bikes, 3 & 4 Wheelers, Hybrid Cross Trainers, Tandems, Children’s Bikes, Electric Scooters, Rollerblades, Bike Trailers, and Car Carriers. Will deliver bikes, and provide free helmet, lock and parking with rental. 239 West Main Street, (805) 652-1114. www.venturabikedepot.com
Surfclass.com – Created to celebrate the spirit of surfing and the ocean environment. Surfclass offers private and group lessons, women’s/girls clinics, surf retreats, surf-kayaking and travel to remote surf spots and teaches surf culture, stewardship and environmental education. On the waterfront, call (805) 648-2662. www.surfclass.com
Ventura Surf Shop – Rentals available (boards & wetsuits), new, used & collectible surfboards, lessons, accessories and apparel. 88 E. Thompson Blvd. (Downtown Ventura), (805) 643-1062.
Wavefront – Offers a large selection of surf gear. Located at 154 E. Thompson,
Walden Surf Co. – Offers a wide range of surf gear and clothing for men, women, and children. Repairs also available. Located at 853 E. Front St., (805) 653-1717 www.waldensurfboards.com
Seaward Surf and Sport – Sales/Rentals & clothing. Located at 1082 S. Seaward
(805) 648-4742 www.seawardsurf.com
Ventura Dive & Sport – Rentals available and provides in-house repairs and service by fully-trained technicians. Located in Ventura Harbor Village within walking distance to the Liberty, Spectre and Peace Dive Boats. Call or E-mail your order in and they will deliver it to the boat for you. 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 108, (805) 650-6500. www.venturadive.com
Raptor Dive Charters – Daily 2 to 3 dive option trips to Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz. Dive tanks, soft drinks, snacks, coffee, and a light lunch included. Full equipment rentals. (805) 650-6500. www.raptordive.com
Explorer Diving Adventures – Experience diving at Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Offers ¾ day trips, multi-day trips and private charters. Rental gear available. Located in the Ventura Harbor. (805) 646-0836 www.explorerdiveboat.com
Spectre Dive Boat – Offering single and multi-day scuba diving trips to the Channel Islands. Food Available. (805) 483-6612
Island Packers Cruises – The Channel Island National Park’s concessionaire for boat travel departing from Ventura Harbor to all of the islands. A variety of trips, from half-day to multi-day, are offered. 1691 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura Harbor. (805) 642-1393. www.islandpackers.com
Sail Channel Islands – Day trips, overnights and weekend trips. Enjoy lunch, happy hour, dinner or design your own cruise. Located at Ventura Harbor, (805) 750-7828. www.sailchannelislands.com
Ventura Boat Rentals – For kayak, paddleboat and electric boat rentals and harbor cruises. Ventura Harbor Village, Spinnaker Drive, Slip D7 (directly across from the Coastal Cone Ice Cream Store). (805) 642-7753 www.VenturaBoatRentals.com
Pacific Sailing – Sailing lessons, skippered charters and the Barefoot Sailing Club.
WheelFunRentals - Bike rentals and more! Cruisers, Tandem Bikes, 4 seater Surreys, and 3-wheeled sling shot bikes....they have them all. Located on the Ventura Promenade near the Ventura Pier. http://wheelfunrentals.com