Alone on an island for 18 years.

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a work of historical fiction based on the life of an American Indian woman who spent 18 years in isolation on San Nicolas Island, one of eight Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

In the book she's named Karana. Her birth name is lost to history, but she's often referred to as the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island or as Juana María, the name under which she was baptized before burial at Mission Santa Barbara.

Today, San Nicolas Island is owned by the US Navy. Although it is closed to public visitation, you can experience similar island environments, plants, animals, and history by visiting Channel Islands National Park, which protects five of the eight remarkable Channel Islands.

American Indians looking over bay with boat.

Follow the Story

Read chapter summaries of the book and participate in interactive activities.

Island at sunrise.

Explore the Islands

Take a tour of the eight Channel Islands. Learn about the island plants and animals. Experience interactive maps that highlight the story.

Painting of Chumash paddling a tomol near the islands.

People and Culture

Explore life in California during the 1800s (nineteenth century) and the legacy of those who lived there.

Tiled images of map, teacher with students, researcher with basket, digital archive

Resources & Research

View the digital archive, photos & multimedia, maps, teacher resources, historical timeline, glossary, and FAQs.

Scott O'Dell signing book soon after it was published in 1960

About the Author

Learn about the life of Scott O'Dell and watch the video A Visit with Scott O'Dell.

Cave on San Nicolas Island.

Breaking News

Read highlights of the latest archeological and historical finds connected to the story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island.

Painting of the Lone Woman overlooking Corral Harbor on San Nicolas Island

The Lone Woman

Learn more about the woman whose life inspired the novel.

Last updated: December 11, 2018