If you come to the Channel Islands Harbor / Oxnard Beach area and happen to be one of those people who checks out local jogging routes, we have a circuit you shouldn’t miss. Depending on your starting point, you can shorten (walk) or lengthen (run or cycle) the distance. Our standard is about a 5 ½ mile tour that usually starts at Peninsula Park on the east (inland) side of the harbor. Along the way, you will enjoy the quaint beauty of the harbor, the quiet streets of the Hollywood Beach community before heading out to the beach itself. Any time of the day brings a little different experience, but we enjoy it most as the sun comes up.
If your starting point is Peninsula Park, parking is free. From the lot, go to the walkway and head south (right) along the harbor, keeping an eye out for the herons that will be feeding along the docks. After about a ½ mile, the sidewalk will bear right and then loop left around the fire station as it heads up the bridge that crosses the harbor.
For me, the only downside to this stretch of the trip can be the traffic noise, particularly if you get out later in the day. But, oh, the views from the top-and in every direction. At dawn, the distant sunrise over the Santa Monica Mountains can be a magnificent backdrop as you look south down the harbor’s main channel. Turnaround, and you’re looking up the main channel north toward the Mandalay Bay and Sea Bridge communities, now with the Topatopa Range as a backdrop. Straight ahead is the Hollywood Beach community and the Pacific.
As you start down the other side of the bridge, you will decide whether you want to go left toward the harbor or cross the road to the right toward the beach. The loop begins here, so regardless, you will wind up back here anyway. Today head left toward the harbor.
Again, if it’s dawn, you can now be looking across the harbor as the morning sun begins to crest the distant mountains and then shimmers through the boat masts. More often than not, you will be serenaded by the barking sea lions as they begin their routine of feeding in the water and then fighting with their friends and family for whatever dock they choose for that particular day.
For the next mile and a half, you will keep the harbor on your left as you pass restaurants, boat clubs, shops, charters, and green belts. The walkway stays close to the water. We recommend that you not take shortcut opportunities across the parking lots for the best experience.
Eventually, the walkway will veer to the right and take you away from the water as you circle the Bahia apartments. On the other side and back at the water, you will parallel Harbor Boulevard as you begin to bear right and approach the mouth of the harbor. If it’s early morning, you will see the fishing boats leaving, and if it’s late afternoon or evening, the pleasure boats making their way back in. Regardless, it is a sight to behold as you stand at the end of the road and look out at the harbor entrance and across the water at the Silver Strand Beach Community.
For some, particularly if the tide is out, there is an option to take the next couple of miles along Hollywood Beach. But for us, it is time to head up Ocean Drive through the heart of the Hollywood Beach residential community. The streets are always quiet, we enjoy the feel of the community, and there is less sand in the shoes.
At the end of Ocean Drive is a parking lot. Here you can take a brief detour up to the beach, but because there is no outlet, we’ll veer across the lot to the right to pick up the sidewalk heading toward the Embassy Suites Hotel. Turning left as you reach the hotel, you begin a slight ascent that will break to the right at the top as the expansive beachfront opens up to you. Follow the path as it circles the hotel and then eventually turns to the right. As you go along here, you will see the beautiful Oxnard Beach Park in front of you to the right, but watch for the first paved sidewalk to the left. Take that and head back toward the beach. Once you reach the enormous dunes, you will want to make a left and then follow the path until it begins to loop to the right until, once again, the whole beachfront opens up to you. We usually find it hard to stop here because we’re on a roll, but often enough, it’s too hard not to. All along this quarter-mile stretch of beachfront are benches along the walkway. The views out to the Channel Islands or up the coast to the mountains are world-class. At the south end of this stretch is a picnic area with benches and even a paved walkway (Rehab Point) that extends about halfway out toward the water.
From here, follow the walkway away from the beach until you meet the main path and turn right toward the hotel, backtracking all the way around until you pass the parking lot, now on your right. Instead of angling across the parking lot, this time, cross the street, where you will see two side-by-side walkways. You will want to take the one on the right. It will take you alongside the Colony Condominium community and bring you out at Harbor Boulevard. Take the crosswalk there and then two more in a very short distance to put you back on the bridge that crosses that harbor. From here, you will retrace your steps back to Peninsula Park.
As I said, you can start this walk, jog, or bicycle ride whenever you wish and extend or shorten it however you like. This route, in my opinion, offers a complete experience. If you choose this starting point, the address for Peninsula Park is 3333 Peninsula Rd in Oxnard, 93035.
Have Fun, and Keep on Truckin’!