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EXCURSION : Fisherman's Wharf Works Its Salty Magic : Getaway spot: At the Channel Islands Harbor complex a shark's tooth sells for 35 cents and live crab is $2.09 a pound.

March 15, 1990|PEGGY Y. LEE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Locals have known about it for years. It's a place where you can buy seashells, fly a kite, eat fish and enjoy a view of the harbor.

But judging from the small crowd on a recent sunny weekend, not many people have discovered the wharf on Oxnard's Channel Islands Harbor.

Overlooking the harbor at Victoria Avenue and Channel Islands Boulevard is a small, picturesque group of shops and restaurants that make up Fisherman's Wharf.

Gift shops with their wooden signs, T-shirts and jewelry cater to tourists and to anyone who wants an outing that includes shopping. But people looking for peace and quiet can find that too among the well-kept greenery and wooden decks.

Souvenir-seekers can buy a shark's tooth for 35 cents or a white cockle seashell for 12 cents at Shell World. The gift shop features lamps, plant holders and jewelry made from shells, but you won't find anything that is locally picked. This stock comes from locales such as the Philippines and the Caribbean.

Those looking for local seafood can buy live crabs and lobsters from a tank at Brandon King Seafood Inc., where tongs are offered, but adventurous types are welcome to seize the creatures barehanded. A sign by the tank cautions, "Live crabs, watch your fingers."

The live crabs cost $2.09 a pound. Cooked, they cost $2.99 a pound. In addition to crabs and lobsters, Brandon King sells shrimp, fish and oysters, which it buys freshly caught. Brandon King and the Captain's Gallery both feature fast-food menus that include seafood, hamburgers and ice cream.

For the more upscale diner, Reuben's Restaurant provides steak and seafood, plus a dining room overlooking the harbor.

The wharf offers an ocean breeze that is ideal for kite-fliers, who will want to take advantage of the wooden pier to do their flying. Runners can detour onto the pier, which is connected to a path parallel to the harbor that is ideal for a long-distance run or a short jog. Cyclists may have a harder time of it on the pier and should walk their bikes to avoid running down fellow tourists.

The less movement-oriented can confine their activity to the pier area and not miss a thing. Children can climb on the two cannons on the wooden deck, and couples can stroll hand-in-hand down the harbor.

Armed with a good book and a cup of coffee, a person can spend the afternoon lounging on a deck and watching the world go by. Stop a while. The tourists shouldn't have all the fun.

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