Sea Cave Kayaking at the Channel Islands
It’s taken me a year to write this post but here we are. Last July I took a fabulous trip out to Santa Barbara, CA. During that trip, we got to experience the most intense, enriching, and fun adventure I’ve ever had. To be quite honest, when I saw “cave kayaking” on the itinerary I was a bit intimidated. I had never stepped foot in a kayak let alone in the middle of the ocean.
Be prepared before you go. Be sure to pack sunscreen, SPF lip balm, water shoes, small lunch/snacks to take on the kayak, light windbreaker jacket. Avoid wearing cotton fabrics all together. It’s best to wear quick-drying fabrics instead like UPF 50+ clothing.
First thing first, before you can get to Channel Island National Park, you have to take a ferry ride. Arrive at Ventura Harbor in Santa Cruz at 8 am so you can get checked in for your departure around 9 am. It takes about an hour to ride out to Channel Island.
Your captain will make stops along the way if there are any wildlife spottings like dolphins or seals like we saw! The ferry is a large two-story boat with some indoor and outdoor seating & it is equipt with two sets of restrooms. You can walk around but the waters are a bit choppy so hang out tight or just stay in your seat.
TIP: The waters are pretty rough so bring Dramamine or crystallized candied ginger if you get even a little bit seasick. I learned this the hard way as did others in my group who claimed they never get seasick.
Channel Island Arrival
Your tour guide will guide you to the meeting spot once you load off the ferry. When everyone is geared up and ready to go, your tour guide will walk you through the safety rules and tell you the hand signals they use on the water because it can be hard to hear. We took the “Discovery Sea Cave Kayak Tour” with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company. It is great for first timers to the island who want to be able to experience numerous activities on the island.
Channel Islands Adventure Company is the sole kayak guide and outfitter concessionaire for the Channel Islands National Park at Scorpion Anchorage. They are the number one choice for Channel Islands National Park outfitting and tours so I felt very comfortable with them as a guide even though I was scared. You are going out into open ocean water where anything can happen so listen to your guide and trust them, even if you’re an experienced kayaker.
You’re ready to go. You’ll encounter fields of sea kelp along your way and the guide may even tempt you to eat it. I hear it tastes like pickles but I hate pickles and I wasn’t about to eat it anyway so I can’t tell you the truth behind that statement. Exploring the sea caves around Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island was truly magnificent. No other area of the park offers as many sea cave kayaking opportunities. Some of the most beautiful sea caves in the world can be found at Scorpion Anchorage.
Parts of the tour got a little rough and I wasn’t sure how we’d make it through the choppy water but with my kayak partner – Clarissa from ClarissaExplainsItAll.net, we made it… even if she ended up a little soaked by my paddle. Again, I was a total newbie so I didn’t have control over them sometimes, haha.
Whether you’re a newbie like I was, experienced, or somewhere in between, taking on the sea to experience the amazing caves along the Channel Islands is nothing short of amazing and it will test your body and mind.