By Sally Berry
Hello nature lovers! Exploring the Santa Barbara area, I have been captivated by the beauty of the Gaviota Coast and have been motivated to preserve this gorgeous coastline that runs 72 miles from Coal Oil Point near Isla Vista, west to Point Conception and then north to Point Sal.
Early on in my move to the area, I discovered the Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC), an environmental non-profit with a mission to protect the Gaviota Coast for present and future generations. I attended several GCC educational group field trips and started to develop a deeper understanding of the coast. I began to explore up and down the coast, to learn its history, and to understand the diverse and unique ecosystem of this precious region.
Access to walking the coast in certain areas takes a very low tide. Other areas have very limited access to the beach. Respect for the ocean and it’s “whims” is essential…especially the rogue waves.
On the day I took this photo, I recall driving west from Santa Barbara in the torrential rain to our planned access point. My emergency lights started blinking on my 17-year-old (but reliable) car – they got my attention!
After giving my car “Big Blue” a pep talk, she finally deposited me at the state park access point. Still raining, I opened the door to meet my friend for the hike. We peered out toward the ocean “Could that be a clearing in the clouds? … should we try?” We had only a narrow window of time to hike the coast due to the changing tide.
After a brief wait and with the rain calming to a slow drizzle, we headed onto the beach and west up the coast. The view was stunning…ahead were seagulls hunting for dinner, unusual rock formations rising out of the sand, and the silvery grays and blues of the ocean. Behind us, the dark clouds were lingering and slowly moving inland.
The breath-taking sights took us further than we expected. Being mindful (sort of) of the tides, we knew it was time to turn around to the eastward journey. With only a few more bends of the coast, the sky’s lower sun gave way to distractions and more photos. The meditative coastal scene and photography lulled me into a dreamlike state, only to be brought back to awareness by a rogue wave! Yikes! It won’t be the last time… but I have to be careful. Though the weather was unpredictable, the hike turned out to be a beautiful afternoon on the coast.
Right now, much access to this beautiful coast is unavailable due to temporary closures. I am mindful of restrictions … but I look forward to the day when I can continue my explorations. I love this area and will continue to conserve its beauty for future generations.
See you on the coast!