Windsurfing Naples – photo copyright Andrew Sorcini
Naples State Marine Conservation Area is one of the smaller marine protected areas in the California network, at less than 3 square miles. However, this park packs some serious punch for its size and is considered an ecological hot spot. It is located just west of the city of Santa Barbara off the shore of the Gaviota Coast, an area deemed to be of “global significance”. It is also located near Campus Point SMCA, El Capitán State Beach, and the myriad of MPAs around the Channel Islands.
- Naples is known as an area that not only has a diversity of animals, but also a diversity of plants, such as kelp, surfgrass, and substrates. A diversity of substrates means that different materials line the ocean floor, promoting variation in the types of ocean dwellers that call this area home.
- Gaviota Coast, the shoreline near to Napes SMCA, is one of the largest stretches of undeveloped land on the Southern California shoreline, and was under consideration for designation as a National Seashore. Read more about it here:
- Some of the marvels of this rich seascape include: 30-foot reef walls covered in marine life, unique underwater pinnacle and arch systems, network of cave, and thick kelp forests.
- Popular ocean residents include: anemones, white sea bass, sheephead, all colors of nudibranchs, rockfish, red gorgonians, harbor seals, and sea lions.
- Notable threatened and endangered residents include: steelhead trout, tidewater gobies, white-tailed kites, and red-legged frogs.
- Go for a dive! Naples Reef is one of the Top Ten Dives Sites in California’s marine parks. However, this site provides some challenges and may not be for beginners.
- Kayak, surf or paddleboard. Just watch out for strong currents! For more information on where to rent equipment, how to join a group class or tour, and where to locate access points to the SMCA, check out the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper webpage:
- Walk along the coastal bluffs or enjoy observing sea creatures along the tidepool studded coastline
For more information, please visit the California Parks and Recreation webpage: