Photo: Jeanine Romo

This Oxnard Hotel Is the Perfect Jumping Off Point to ‘North America's Galapagos'

Epic Stays
by Jeanine Romo Oct 10, 2023

Southern California has a distinctive atmosphere. Sun, beach, ocean, and no shortage of experiences that get you out into all three make any trip to the state memorable. That’s seen perfectly in Oxnard at Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach, a Curio Collection Hotel by Hilton.

This all-suite resort is surrounded by the sand dunes. As one of the only true oceanside resorts on the West Coast, there are few places like it that are as obviously influenced by the idyllic Pacific. It gets its name from the founder of the city itself, Henry Oxnard. He originally planned his plot of land to be used for sugar beet production and was going to name it Zachari after the Greek word for sugar. Vanity appears to have won out, but the original city name does have a home at the resort.

Being a suite, every room is large making it comfortable for traveling families or a small group of friends. Each room has a view, so whether it be the ocean, beach, pool, or garden, you’ll be greeted with a lovely vista. You’re also steps away from the soft sands of Mandalay Beach, making it convenient to take a dip, take a walk on the sand, or enjoy a beach sunset.

beach on zachari dunes resort

Photo: Jeanine Romo

There’s no shortage of things to do at the resort. Yoga, lawn games, and, of course, the beach await during the day. The resort has partnered with champion longboarder and Ventura native Mary Osborne for surf camps to take advantage of the intermediate-level waves all year, and kayaking trips are possible year-round. The heated pool and hot tub are a stone’s throw from the beach, and rentable cabanas offer a space to escape in private. Live music plays on the weekends. Beach gear is free of charge for guests for two hours each day, while a spa visit will reenergize any beachgoer after a long day in the sun. At night, you can enjoy s’mores at the community fire pit or rent your own pit for your party before stargazing.

While the hotel’s location means the wealth of Oxnard restaurants is just a short trip away (the city has a must-try taco trail), the restaurants at Zachari Dunes are even closer. Ox and Ocean serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and offers refined cuisine featuring locally sourced produce and fresh seafood as well as a variety of craft cocktails. The menu consists of locally sourced produce and seafood fresh from the Oxnard area. You can dine inside, enjoy the breeze in the outside seating area or take your food to-go and enjoy poolside or in your room. For something more casual, Sugar Beats by the pool area has quick bites, coffee, seafood, and craft beer, cocktail, and wine.

zachari dunes oxnard resort pool

Photo: Jeanine Romo

Yet for nature and national park lovers, there’s perhaps one close-by amenity that tops all others: it’s proximity to the Channel Islands. This stunning archipelago has been coined as the Galapagos of North America because of its remarkable biodiversity and unique ecosystems, and is a must-visit for anyone who loves national parks, marine life, and an off-the-beaten-path adventure. The islands are accessible via a one to two-hour ferry ride from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard to each of the five islands.

A jumping off point to Channel Islands National Park

@matadornetwork Paddling through paradise 🚣‍♂️ #Kayaking in the #ChannelIslands offers a unique and rewarding adventure for nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. The Channel Islands are an archipelago located off the coast of Southern California in the United States. They consist of eight islands known for their diverse ecosystems, pristine landscapes, and abundant #marinelife. @Visit Oxnard 🎥 @Jeanine | adventure travel ♬ original sound – Matador | Travel + Adventure

Channel Islands National Park is unlike any other with an enticing history as a filming location (and destination for jet-set actors) as well as a wealth of animals that can only be found on the coast and land of the islands. Opt for a kayaking excursion with Channel Islands Expeditions, which runs charters to Anacapa Island where guided kayaking tours kayaking through sea caves starts. Anacapa has many of sea caves, and a trusted guide will take you safely through them. During this epic adventure, you might see dolphins, sea lions, various bird species, and other marine life.

Other excursions include snorkeling, hiking, diving, seasonal whale watching (December through March), and more. This can be done with a company such as Channel Islands Expeditions or you can opt to explore on your own via a ferry ride to one of the islands.

kayaking sea caves channel islands national park

Photo: Jeanine Romo

Regardless of which type of Channel Islands day trip you choose, it’s guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

How to Get to Oxnard

While Oxnard doesn’t have its own airport, there are three options not too far away: the Santa Barbara airport (about miles north), and LAX and the Burbank Airport in the Los Angeles area, which is about 50 miles south of Oxnard. Once you land, you’ll need to rent a car. Most everything you need is within a 15-minute drive of Zachari Dunes once you arrive.

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