Welcome to Isla Vista
Isla Vista, known as IV by the locals, is a lively, beachside community located next to the University of California, Santa Barbara. It is an unincorporated community in Santa Barbara County located on the south-facing portion, between two small peninsulas. Its earliest inhabitants were the Chumash, but now the majority of residents are either UCSB or Santa Barbara City College students along with a small, working Hispanic population. Its densely packed population of around 20,000 favor houses and apartments built on the south side of Del Playa Drive (DP) because of the beautiful ocean views, however these buildings are in danger of collapse due to the quickly eroding bluffs.
In Isla Vista, you will find a beach culture full of surfers and sunbathers often frequenting Sands Beach due to the Mediterranean climate. Bikes, particularly beach cruisers, dominate as the main form of transportation, especially because of the overcrowding and insufficient parking for cars. Isla Vista’s heavy concentration of young adults contributes to its unique youth culture. Its early history is marked by youth activist riots including the burning of a Bank of America in 1970. Today, the Isla Vista youth are known for their extravagant events, such as the multiple nights of Halloween where you will find students and out-of-towner’s wandering the street of Del Playa in search of a party. The residents are also known for their couch burning and other parties such as Floatopia, which is no longer in existence due to its environmental harm.
While Isla Vista may not have a wide selection of stores and restaurants, it has contributed greatly by being the birthplace of Kinko’s as well as Freebirds, a restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine where you will find people devouring nachos at all hours. It is also the home of the Isla Vista Food Co-op that provides mainly local and often organic food for the residents. Overall, Isla Vista has a little something for everyone.
More on the beauty of IV
Perched on the cliffs above the sprawling beauty of the Pacific Ocean, lays the small college town of Isla Vista, better known as I.V. Inhabited primarily by students from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Isla Vista reflects a unique vibe that is an intriguing combination of laidback surf culture and lively party-scene. Scattered with palm trees, charming yet run-down houses, breath-taking ocean views and red solo cups; Isla Vista’s highly concentrated student population makes it a truly rare community. One day spent in I.V., and it is clear that the carefree energy that its residents exude is contagious. From cruiser bikes everywhere you look to beach volleyball games every day of the week, this utopia of a college town is an eclectic and idyllic oasis from the “real world”; almost a fictitious piece of paradise. With a life on the cliff tops of beautiful Santa Barbara beaches and a crazy party atmosphere that can’t be matched, it is no wonder why UCSB alumni often describe their four years spent living in Isla Vista as the best years of their lives. A place unlike any other, the lively, lighthearted ambience of Isla Vista culture makes it every college kid’s paradise.