Love Letters to Isla Vista

by Bella Taylor February 13, 2024 8 min read

February is the month of love and what better way to celebrate the season than to acknowledge the love we have for Isla Vista! As a resident of this beloved suburb, the magic that floats through the ocean air is one that became very apparent to me very fast within the short amount of time that I’ve lived here so far. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Several letters were anonymously sent in to Island View Outfitters expressing the love people have for the community and the partners they found while in IV. We have compiled ten of these letters for you to read and experience the adoration that many others have felt for this special place.

Starting with one of my personal favorite letters, a lover of Isla Vista writes of their perspective on the commonly known slogan “Isla Vista is for Lovers.” They share that over their 4 years of college here in IV, love can be found in some of our favorite spots like Dev’s and the Lagoon. They touch on the unique SB music scene and how we all can “find love and joy in life itself.” They end their letter with the truthful statement that we are all lovers in Isla Vista, and I feel that familiar sense of belonging once more after getting the chance to experience both this letter and love in IV. 

This same feeling is shared by multiple other lovers in IV who speak of their unique college experience as they reminisce on their weekend outings at Woodstocks and Keg N Bottle back in the 80s and 90s. Their recognition of the enchantment this beach town holds shines through in their appreciative style of writing and fond recollection of golden memories. 

One letter talks about the love someone found with another while wandering the busy street of Del Playa 30 years back. They share their story of accidentally leaving their now-husband with their address instead of their phone number just to see him biking by a day later with some college-loved gifts in hand. They now are married with kids and leave hope for others looking to find romantic love in IV someday. 

Cupid strikes again during Summer of ‘93 with one couple who found each other in Comm 88 here at UCSB. They now share a long marriage and their own “baby Gaucho” with frequent visits back to IV, the place they fell in love years ago. 

Another writer takes a moment to admire their time here as a “young and dumb” adult who got to bike through stop signs on their way to the cliffs and dress however they wanted. They demonstrate in their letter the gratitude they have for growing up in “this tiny hole-in-the-wall paradise” and the experiences it has to offer. 

After reading through each personalized and specific letter, I effortlessly come to find the common yet rare theme that is undoubtedly present in the letters and in Isla Vista. The love we have for this college town is simply unmatched. As much as we try to capture UCSB and IV in its truest form, it feels to me that our depiction of

it will never quite do it the justice it deserves. The pictures of sunsets from the bluffs in our photo albums won’t always genuinely represent how warm the sun is just like the retelling of our Isla-Vista-made stories won’t always light a spark in others like they do in us. The memories we create here and the love that we share for IV is unimaginable to those who haven’t gotten to live it. It is clear in these letters that as Gauchos, either past or present, we all consistently take part in the fondness and attachment that can only be found roaming through the streets of 65 to 68 block. Isla Vista will always be our home, whether it’s in our hearts or our addresses. Isla Vista is for lovers, and we are all lovers in Isla Vista.

Read and enjoy some of the Isla Vista love letters below:

Letter 1

I went to college at UCSB from 1982-1986. I fell in love with Isla Vista right away.  My friends had an apartment in the Surfrider apartments on Picasso, and every Friday we would go watch Friday night videos. We'd get pizza from Woodstock's and beer from whichever store accepted our ID's :). My 3rd year in college, I moved into an apartment on Camino Pescadero. I felt like a grown up for the first time. It was so awesome to be so close to campus, there were great little restaurants and shops, all my friends were nearby. It was great to not have to drive to see each other. I was so sad to leave IV. Luckily, our oldest daughter went to UCSB from 2008-2012, so I had the chance to revisit IV, and I did as often as possible. It's a very unique college experience, and I loved every minute of it. 

Letter 2

dear Isla Vista,

you are what we think life/adulting will be like when we’re young and dumb. where we will live with or close to our friends, hang out whenever we want, dress however we want, and party as much as we want.  

a moment in time on loop because every year a new batch of freshmen come to start the never ending cycle. 

that time where the hardest things in life tend to be late night cramming for exams, early classes, and beer money.  

then to have all of this set on the cliff above one of the most gorgeous beaches on earth, simply remarkable, along with the weather!

a place where growth is abundant. from learning the basics of being an adult to organic chemistry, so much growth happens in this small bobble that houses so many. 

bicycles own the streets, and so do the people. rules don’t seem to apply here the same.  you can jaywalk, bike through stop signs, and play loud music past 10 with a DJ set up in your back yard. 

it’s a time in life we all have gone through in our own ways, but no place is quite as ridiculous and special as Isla Vista.  

a place that i hold so dear in my heart. a place i grew up in myself.  i was not a student, i worked in isla vista from the age of 21 to 32 and it gave me life. the students and people id meet would fill my world with laughter, joy and inspiration. it’s the best place ive ever worked and it helped shape my career and the person i am today.

i am forever grateful for my always silly and fun experiences this tiny little hole in the wall paradise offers. there’s nothing else like it! 

Letter 3

When I first moved to IV I thought "Isla Vista is for lovers" was meant solely romantically. 

Over my past 4 years, I have learned that Isla Vista is for those of us who find love and joy in life itself. Those who see love when they watch the waves at devs, or walk around the lagoon with friends, or go out with their roommates. Isla Vista is for people who feel love when they hear music 24 hours a day (even when they're trying to sleep!). It's for people who think laughter is the best medicine and appreciate the small "in between" moments of life when nothing in particular is happening, those are the moments that make us whole. 

We are all lovers in Isla Vista. 

Letter 4

even though it’s in the past now, every place we went to together in isla vista holds a piece of what once was through memory.

Letter 5

Met my husband to be in summer school 1993 in Com 88.  Now, fast forward 30 years later and we are enjoying visits in IV and UCSB with our sophomore Baby Gaucho.  Who would have know?! Oh, and she’s a Com major too :).

Letter 6

Dear Isla Vista, 

My boyfriend, Michael, and I started going to UCSB three years ago, and graduate this spring. Michael is my best friend, the best chef I know, and the first person I want to see when I come home. Our time in IV has been one filled with growing and learning that only IV can provide. 

We have spent much of our early adult lives in and around the many streets of IV, tanning at Devs, and buying Freebirds for our Friday night dinners. Before we lived together, we would go out with our friends around Isla Vista, and our favorite thing to do was go for a walk by the beach for sunset. Through all of our changing lives, tough classes, and new challenges we always had our walks. We would talk about everything at the sunset (parties we went to, our friends, jobs we were working), and as last light approached things felt less heavy, we would walk home feeling much lighter than before. 

This past year, we got our first apartment together in Isla Vista while we finish our senior year of college. We still went to Freebirds for our dates occasionally, but school was busy, and I worked two jobs so it has been pretty hectic. Yet, In the midst of the craziness, I’m proud to say that we still walk to the beach together and watch the sunset. And as the sun shares its last light, we still walk home feeling lighter than before. 

I hope that after we leave IV, we can come back for the years to come — just to walk on that same beach and see the same sun set. 

I love you Isla Vista, thank you for giving me the time, place, and beautiful sunsets to fall in love. I hope you can give these gifts to more students in the years to come. 

Letter 7

Thank you Mother Earth for foggy mornings and for the smell of tar.  Thank you for the glorious days when the sun reflects off the ocean and it feels like 80 degrees but it’s only 65! Thank you IV for the bells on the hour ringing from Storke Tower. And for the traffic on the bike lanes. Thank you Freebirds for your burrito with ‘secret sauce’ which is just BBQ sauce! Thank you for this college town, for this school I got accepted to, for this four years… Gauchos are so lucky! 

Letter 8

October 30, 1993. Party where a girl in a flannel shirt said she was from Lafayette. Couldn't shake her from my mind for a year. Started dating the following year. Married in 1997. I love you.

Letter 9

Summer 1993 met my husband at the keg at a party at his DP pad for the summer. Drunkenly gave him my address instead of phone number. See him the next day biking by with a 6 pack and bag of weed. The rest is history. Now we have kids going to college…none at ucsb though

Letter 10

We met on Goleta Beach at an IVCF party for freshmen in 1981. We both lived at Fontainebleau in IV and I joined the men's crew team as a coxswain to get his attention. We started dating in January 1982 and got married in 1987. We have two sons who we took to FVC several summers and now our youngest son is a sophomore and a Gaucho tour guide. Gaucho love indeed!

Bella Taylor
Bella Taylor

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