We began this article series on 50 Top Luxury Real Estate Markets in the USA in Santa Barbara, California and its adjacent wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley. But, the Santa Barbara Region is only one of the four regions that comprise California’s Central Coast which begins just north of Los Angeles and Malibu (and just south of Santa Barbara) in an area called the Channel Island Region. The other two Central Coast Regions (north of Santa Barbara) are San Luis Obispo (known for the Hearst Castle) and Monterey (famous for Carmel, Big Sur and Pebble Beach).  By far, the least known hidden gem of California’s Central Coast is the Channel Island Region, home to the coastal cities of Ventura and Oxnard.


Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of this area from a luxury real estate perspective is the Channel Island Harbor and Marina where you can own a home and dock your boat right in your own “backyard”. Dockside living offers an extraordinary lifestyle that is truly unique on the California Coast.  According to the leading expert in the waterfront home area, Kim Dolan, (a.k.a. “Mrs. Dockside”), “Numerous residents here own electric boats. They often visit neighbors by boat, or dine at dockside restaurants or visit their yacht clubs to meet friends which are also accessible by boat.  Many of my clients are retirees who have dreamed for years of living on the water, and have liquidated all their other assets in order to do so”. 

“There is always something to do here right on the water such as our wine tour of the harbor or just looking at people enjoying themselves” says Arlene Beckwith. She adds, “Most people who tour our boat dock homes on the waterway for the first time just say, ‘wow’, I had no idea that this kind of lifestyle even existed in central California”.

For Gary Cuoco, a former fireman, “The Channel Island lifestyle is all about the endless, clean, wide sandy beaches, the unpolluted water and the gorgeous sunsets.  There are no crowds here and no traffic.  With all of this going for it, a beach home in our marketplace at this time is an excellent investment!”

Samantha Kirkpatrick, who is also a developer of beachfront homes in the area explains, “With a scarcity of oceanfront homes in California, the Channel Islands Region has a very attractive value proposition both for second home owners and vacation home renters.  Its proximity to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara offers a variety of cultural experiences. But, for some it is the simple pleasures of renting a kayak or a boat in a low key beach community. Or, perhaps it is just enjoying breakfast at Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut which was voted as one of the best breakfast eateries in the US by Esquire Magazine".

Lei Eberhardt says, “There tends to be a younger crowd in the beach neighborhoods. Surfing, windsurfing, and kite boarding are all very popular sports here.  Everyone seems to know each other. It is a small town feel. Yet, you are not far from big town activities. The people are really nice!”

For those who prefer big ocean and island views the hillside properties of the Channel Island Region, above the harbor and the beaches represent true luxury. Fred Evans, who specialized in marketing hillside properties here says, “This area offers the best of both worlds:  access to city life. like going to LA Dodgers and Lakers games, but with the hassle-free feeling of living in a Mediterranean setting overlooking the ocean.

If you are looking for the unexpected Ventura and Oxnard has much to be discovered.  It is the hidden gem of California’s Central Coast.

Photos Courtesty of the Agents & Brokers Interviewed