Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum age?
On our public tours (Classic, Combo, and Campers) the minimum age is 8. On our EPIC tour you our minimum age is 5, as long as they are good swimmers and have been in the ocean before.
What gear is included?
We provide you with wetsuits specific for the adventure you are on. For instance, kayaking adventures include a 3mm farmer john wetsuit, paddle jackets, and hydroskin tops (this is like overalls) while snorkeling adventures include a 5mm dive suit, 3mm hood, and thick booties. PFDs and helmet are also included.
We also provide complimentary snorkel gear for all adventures. The gear we use on the Kelp Combo is higher quality. You can use your kayaking wetsuit for snorkeling, or rent a 5mm suit for an additional $25. Snorkel gear is only good for the day of your adventure and may need to be returned by 4pm unless a guide is available to assist you after hours.
What do I need to bring?
If you showed up at the ferry with nothing but the clothing on your back, you would have a great day. HOWEVER, we do ask that you improve your happiness by wearing a bathing suit under your clothing, bring warm clothing such as jackets and long pants, a reusable water bottle, and sun wear (glasses and baseball hat). Leave all of your jewelry and valuables at home.
Should I bring my camera?
Absolutely! If you have a nice SLR camera, you will want this for the ferry crossing (whale watching) and while on the islands (fox watching). If you have a waterproof camera, we suggest bringing that as well. Our guides carry waterproof cameras, but we cannot guarantee that the photos will come out (their priority is guiding you into and out of sea caves, not taking photos!)
Will I have time to hike?
In most cases yes. If you are on the Kelp Combo, you may not have enough time for a hike, this depends on the schedule of the ferry (3:30 return times do not allow for hiking time, 4:00pm or later usually does allow for a 30 minute hike). Bring shoes for hiking if you plan on doing, this. The Classic and the EPIC both usually have time for a 45 minute hike to Cavern Point and back.
What’s the Best Time to Go?
YEAR-ROUND! Honestly, we operate almost every day of the year and we love each day we get to guide an adventure. Sure, some days will be more calm and prettier than others, but predicting this with any accuracy is IMPOSSIBLE… really, almost impossible. Spring can be windier, but also a great time to see Grey Whales. Summer is usually calmer and sometimes foggy with a marine layer. Fall is absolutely our favorite time of the year, but it’s also the driest. And Winter is a special time as you’ll encounter a more vibrant landscape, marine mammals breeding, and far less people. See, it’s great all year round!
Is the ferry included in the price?
Ferry tickets ARE NOT included in our adventure fees, mostly because we want you to have the flexibility to plan a special camping outing, and camper fares are more expensive than day fares on the Island Packers ferry.
We price everything al la cart so that you can pick and choose what you want, and create an adventure of your own!
What’s the most popular tour?
The Caves and Coves Classic is by far the most popular tour we offer, and we’ve been offering it since 1993. The difference between the Classic and the EPIC is the EPIC is a private tour that includes every piece of gear available (plus the deluxe meal option).
If you have a group of 4 or more and are camping, check out the Caves and Coves for Campers. This is a very unique adventure to a remote beach that very few people get to visit!
Is Food Included
YES! A lunch and snack (healthy and delicious of course) is included in all adventures. You can upgrade to a deluxe meal which includes breakfast, trail mix, a water bottle, and fresh fruit for $18/person.
Can you camp at the Channel Islands?
YES! The 5 islands in the Northern Chain are a National Park. This means you can camp at all of the 5 islands… the only tricky part is getting to those islands during certain times of the year. We highly recommend camping at Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Ranch for 1-2 nights. Campsites are booked through this NPS website. Saturday nights book up 6 months in advance.
Why are all of our tours at Santa Cruz Island?
While you can visit all 5 islands in the National Park, Santa Cruz Island is the most accessible and has the most to offer. Kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, camping, and daily access make Scorpion the preferred destination at the Channel Islands National Park. For larger groups, and a significant high price tag, we can outfit groups to the other islands… but we highly recommend Santa Cruz for your first, second, and third visit!
What is the weather going to be like?
Weather forecasts in the Santa Barbara Channel are unreliable outside of 12 hours, which means we CANNOT predict what the weather is going to be like in any accurate way ahead of time. Also, varying weather conditions is part of visiting the islands, it makes each visit unique! However, if we have to cancel your trip due to weather, you will get all of your money back, or you can reschedule for a better date. Trying to plan your trip based on the weather is near impossible, so pick a date, cross your fingers, and love what you get!
How Long does it take to get to the islands?
Ventura Harbor to Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Ranch takes roughly 60-85 minutes, depending on whale and dolphin sightings.
Are there Sharks?
Sharks are occasionally spotted in Southern California and at the Channel Islands, however in the 22 years we have operated at Santa Cruz Island, we have never encountered a dangerous shark. In fact, seeing a Shark would be really cool and due to the size of our group and our proximity to the sea cliffs and kelp beds, we would be in very little risk of a dangerous encounter. Sharks are wonderful creatures that play a crucial role in the ecosystem of the Ocean.
What is your Cancellation Policy?
We are adventure travelers just like you. You can get 100% credit towards another trip up until 72 hours prior to departure. From 72 hours until the day of your departure, you can get 50% credit towards a future trip. If you fail to show up or miss the ferry you lose all payments (don’t do this!). If for any reason you want a refund, please submit your request via email so management can review it. If a refund is permitted, it will be processed minus a 10% fee. If you are worried about something, let us know. These policies exist to maintain order, but we are reasonable people, so please talk to us! Thanks.