Magazine article Sunset

Stranded ... and Loving It: Seven Spectacular Pacific Islands-And How to Explore Them Should You Wash Up on Their Shores

Magazine article Sunset

Stranded ... and Loving It: Seven Spectacular Pacific Islands-And How to Explore Them Should You Wash Up on Their Shores

Article excerpt

ACREAGE 53,195

Rough it among the animals on SANTA ROSA ISLAND, CA

Terrain

Just three native terrestrial mammals live on California's second-largest island--and humans aren't one of them. The mountains on this patch of land, 40 nautical miles from Ventura, are also home to almost a hundred species of birds, including the recently reestablished population of bald eagles. Add to that the turquoise waters and white sand beaches, and you'll see why this is a prime daytripping spot.

Shelter

BYO, preferably a windproofed tent. On Santa Rosa Island, 30-knot winds are not uncommon. A 1 1/2-mile hike from the ferry landing will bring you to Water Canyon Campground (from $15; nps.gov/chis), in Becher's Bay, which has 15 basic sites with pit toilets and picnic tables. (Beach camping is also permitted at sites across the island.)

Hunt + Gather

Unless you eat island fox, pack all your own food and water; there are zero services on Santa Rosa Island. Water Canyon does have potable water, but for refills while you're out hiking and exploring, bring an [H.sub.2]O treatment method (iodine tablets, pump ...) to the creek.

Skill

Spend your days bird-watching, hiking, and exploring marine life, and your nights stargazing. But the waters here can be dangerous, so kayaking, snorkeling, and tidepooling are at your own risk. If you're a seasoned kayaker, paddle to your own stretch of sand, avoiding areas closed off to protect nesting snowy plovers. But even Becher's Bay should be entered only by experienced boaters.

Set Sail

Island Packers (islandpackers. com) operates all of the boats to the Channel Islands. Three-hour rides to Santa Rosa Island depart approximately every other morning from Ventura. Along the way, you may see dolphins and humpbacks, so bring the binocs or a sizable zoom lens.

Supplies

"The scenery and views on Santa Rosa are incredible, but there are still discoveries of wildlife to document using a good camera with a GPS unit. Hiking boots and a windbreaker wouldn't hurt either." --Gregory B. Pauly, curator, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Caption: Learn to live off the land and sea on Salt Spring Island (page 19)

Caption: ACREAGE 53,195

Caption: BRING IT: CAMERA WITH GPS

Caption: ONLY PROS SHOULD ENTER THE WATER AT BECHER'S BAY (ABOVE), BUT ANYONE CAN TAKE A SHORT HIKE FROM THE FERRY LANDING TO SPOT WILDFLOWERS (BELOW).

Avoid the crowds of MAUI, HI

Terrain

With 2.5 million visitors a year, Maui isn't exactly deserted. But if you navigate through the twists and turns on the road to Hana along the rugged eastern tip, you'll find one of the state's most popular islands the way it's meant to be: remote, lush, and oh-so quiet.

Shelter

Far away from the condo complexes and golf courses is a lanai with a sunrise view, freshly baked banana bread, and your own oceanside bungalow. Hana's Travaasa (from $450; travaasa. com) is the kind of place any castaway would dream of, especially after its recent $12 million renovation. The mostly inclusive resort encourages guests to get out and explore with their robust schedule of free activities, whether you're looking for adventure, culinary experiences, workouts, or an immersion in Hawaiian culture.

Hunt + Gather

Surrounded by swaying palms overlooking Hana Bay, Travaasa's Preserve Kitchen + Bar is quickly becoming legendary for its lobster-crab cakes and Hokkaido scallops. Need a break from fish? Order the wood-fired pizza topped with local veggies at Clay Oven at Hana Farms (hanafarmsonline.com), which is BYOB. (Our tip: Bring a bottle of island-made rum to spike the housemade hibiscus soda.) For burgers in between, go to Hana Ranch (hanaranch.com) and look for the truck serving up organic patties raised on the land. And to stock up on snacks, hit the Hasegawa General Store (808/ 248-8237): Its narrow aisles are crammed with Hawaiian canned foods, camping gear, and island-grown chocolate from Hana Gold. …

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