Snorkel Sea caves by headlamp. Cliff jump into sublime mermaid enclaves and Sea kayak beginner-friendly pirate escape routes and dodge high-tide blowholes. Picture the Galapagos Islands of South America, but twenty-five miles off the coast of California. Wild, untamed wilderness awaits including seals, whales, dolphins, octopus, sea anemones, starfish, sea kayaking, snorkeling, sea caves, purple sea urchins, pink algae, volcanic steeps, cliff jumping and wilderness untamed by man. The Channel Islands National Park is a must visit adventure location.
Getting to Santa Cruz Island & Scorpion Ranch
Island Packers provides daily ferry rides from Ventura, CA to Santa Cruz Island. $60 roundtrip x person for a day trip. Expect to pay a bit more if you plan to camp and return later. The open ocean ferry crosses the Santa Barbara Channel. Plan on arriving an hour before departure. The crossing takes approximately an hour each direction. Each time I’ve visited the island schools of dolphins escorted our ferry. The daily schedule varies by season. Best season to visit: April to October. Ventura Harbor 1691 Spinnaker Drive #105B, Ventura, CA 93001.
Sea Kayak Sea Caves & Snorkel in a marine preserve
Channel Island Adventure Company is my preferred sea kayak outfitter. I’ve used them for two different trips. Each time, the guides, the equipment, local knowledge, professionalism, and even their homemade sack lunches have delivered a perfect adventure. We booked their Caves & Coves Kelp Combo tour. Our five-hour tour included the combination of sea kayaking and snorkeling with the optional cliff jumping crescendo—$ 169 x person.
Camping on Santa Cruz Island
Scorpion Ranch Campground on Santa Cruz Island is a short hike from the bay. “Primitive camping” means there are no frills, prepare for pit toilets, potable water, and picnic tables accommodations. Above the camping area, rugged loop trails remain from the by-gone era when Santa Cruz Island was an active cattle ranch. When the Island Packer boat leaves the harbor, prepare for a feeling of quiet isolation to settle in ($15 x night). Details on backcountry hikes and backcountry camping are here.
Length: One day to multi-day
Description: A visit to the Channel Islands is an exercise in preparation and self-reliance. There are no services such a food stores or gear rental shops on the islands, no remedies for poor planning once you have arrived. There guide services mentioned above can help you prepare for your visit including reservations and transportation. Make reservations before you leave as reliable cell service is not available on the island.
Camping reservations: For Santa Cruz island are through Recreation.gov.
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall