ANACAPA ISLAND FACTS

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Anacapa Island
Photo by Steve Junak
East Anacapa Island

ANACAPA ISLAND: is the second smallest of California’s Channel Islands after Santa Barbara Island, and it is the smallest island in Channel Islands National Park. Anacapa Island is actually comprised of three islets, East, Middle and West Anacapa, which stretch in a chain for almost five miles. West Anacapa Island is the largest, highest and most topographically diverse of the three. Depending on the weather and approach to Anacapa, its three islets often appear as one large mesa or tableland. At other times, the three islets are reflected in a mirage, making them appear much larger and closer. Its name, Anacapa, is thought to be derived from the Chumash word Eneepah (Anyapah, ‘Anyapakh, Enneeapah, Enecapah) meaning ever changing or deception. The name first appears on British navigator George Vancouver’s charts in the early 1790s. The 1869 U.S. Coast Survey Coast Pilot of California, Oregon and Washington Territory states: “Vancouver, in his narrative, calls this island Enneeapah, and repeatedly mentions it by that name; but upon the chart of his survey and explorations it is engraved Enecapah, which has given rise to every variety of spelling. Old Indians at the present time pronounce it En-nee-ah-pagh, with a very strong guttural intonation.”

» Anacapa Island chain of title; Anacapa Island lighthouse


  • County: Ventura County
  • Distance to nearest island: 4.5 miles to Santa Cruz Island
  • Distance to nearest mainland: 11 miles
  • Height: 930 feet at Summit Peak (Vela Peak)
  • Ownership: Channel Islands National Park
  • Size: 1.1 square miles, second smallest of the 8 California Channel Islands
  • Leases:
1902-1907 Louis Le Mesnager ($25/year)
1907-1917 H. Bay Webster
1917-1927 Ira Eaton ($607.50/year)
1927-1932 [no lease recorded] » Frenchy
1932-1937 C. F. Chaffe ($760/year)


  • Public access: Day trips and camping
  • Public transportation: Island Packers
  • Native terrestrial mammals (1): Island deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus anacapae)
  • Native amphibians (1): Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps pacificus)
  • Native reptiles (2)
Blue-bellied lizard (Uta stansburiana)
Alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinatus)

Archaeologists:

Botanical collectors: E. L. Greene, LeRoy Abrams

Ornithological collectors: Martin Badger