- About Area
- Before You Go
- Stay & Play
- * Ferry Tkts
Arrival and Departure times will vary on a daily basis.Sea Caves of Cavern Point is an intermediate tour due to possible afternoon mild-moderate headwinds. Paddlers will explore the sea caves that are accessible and paddle along the island cliffs where kelp and other abundant wildlife exist. Paddlers for this adventure should be moderately experienced paddlers, physically active, and at least 12 years of age to participate.
Getting to the IslandsChecking in at Island Packers. Whether visitors have arranged their own ferry reservation or made a ferry reservation through Channel Islands Outfitters, CIO asks that every participant check in with CIO staff outside of the Island Packers office prior to boarding the ferry. CIO staff or guides will be issuing Adventure Band/s (glow-in the dark recycled silicon bracelet). An Adventure Band allows guests to bypass the National Park Service on-island orientation and proceed directly to the CIO kayak base. Sea Caves of Cavern Point Adventure Band color will be: Orange
Start with some Whale WatchingThe ferry that delivers visitors to Channel Islands National Park is operated by Island Packers and departs from Ventura Harbor. Travelers board one of their stable, high-speed catamarans for the one hour journey to Santa Cruz Island. As you cross the marine-rich Santa Barbara Channel the captain and crew keep a sharp lookout for wildlife, including Humpback, California Gray, Blue, Minke, Finback, and other whale species! It is a common occurrence for visitors to find themselves among megapods of dolphins as well. For total enjoyment, it is best to enjoy a very light breakfast, saving a nice snack for your arrival at the island.
Arriving at Channel Islands National ParkUpon arrival at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands Outfitters’ guide/s will show paddlers to the CIO base camp where picnic tables, storage lockers, and kayaking equipment for the day are located. For kayakers participating in an afternoon activity, an orientation about the rules and regulations of the national park will be conducted and then visitors will be free to enjoy their free time as they choose prior to their scheduled adventure with Channel Islands Outfitters.
Prior to an unforgettable kayaking adventure, visitors typically have free time to enjoy the beach, go for a hike, or try a bit of snorkeling. Several short hikes to beautiful vistas are recommended, your guide will be able to steer you in the right direction for whatever you desire most.
COMPLIMENTARY SNORKELING: Afternoon paddlers may receive their kayaking wetsuit at the end of CIO guides’ morning kayaking orientation and use it for the portion of the day prior to their scheduled activity if they would like to go snorkeling in the Scorpion Marine Reserve. Within the day’s free time, CIO provides masks, snorkels, and fins so that guests may snorkel in the nearby kelp forest and marine reserve. For guests interested in spending additional time snorkeling, a Wetsuit Upgrade may be added to a reservation at time of booking which provides full wetsuit, neoprene booties, and neoprene hood. Because CIO equipment is sent to and from the islands as ordered by guests, Wetsuit Upgrades must be reserved in advance.
Gearing up for a Sea Cave AdventureAs determined by a visitor’s scheduled itinerary, visitors check in with CIO guides at the CIO base camp, located at Scorpion Beach, as indicated by in their confirmation letter. Upon return to the CIO base camp, each kayaker is issued a wetsuit that is sized to fit (so be honest with heights and weights), along with helmet and PFD (Personal Flotation Device) prior to beginning their kayaking adventure. Wetsuits are necessary for staying warm as well as for protection from the rocks and hard-bodied sea creatures living on them. All Sea Caves of Cavern Point adventures explore the sea caves within the Scorpion Marine Reserve.
Exploring Sea Caves by KayakGear up and ready to go, paddlers hit the water for adventure! For CIO paddlers, that means exploring the nooks and crannies of the sea caves that surround Scorpion Anchorage. In addition to exploring sea caves, CIO guides are trained as naturalists and will make sure that island adventure are include information on the islands wildlife, kelp forest ecology, marine and intertidal species, natural history, and cultural history. We’ve heard people say “it’s like Disneyland!”, but to us, this is the kind of place that Disney visits for inspiration!
The Rest of Your DayFollowing an unforgettable kayaking adventure, visitors typically have a limited amount of time to enjoy Santa Cruz Island before departing on the afternoon ferry unless they are scheduled to camp overnight at Scorpion Campground. The departing ferry arrives late in the afternoon to pick up adventurers, paddlers, and snorkelers for their return to Ventura Harbor. Ferry departure times differ each day, be sure to check your confirmation for travel details.
The departing ferry arrives late in the afternoon to pick up adventurers, paddlers, and snorkelers for their return to Ventura Harbor. Ferry departure times differ each day, be sure to check your confirmation for travel details.
*Channel Islands Outfitters’ guests may redeem their Adventure Bands following a visit to Channel Islands National Park by showing it to Paddle Sports Center in Santa Barbara Harbor for 10% discount on kayak, standup paddleboard, or surfboard rental.
History of Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz Island, the largest and most diverse of the eight Channel Islands, has a long and varied history that is tied closely to its physical attributes. Its vast grasslands, coastal scrub vegetation, oak woodlands, and rich coastline sustained the Chumash for millennia and they maintained a number of villages and seasonal settlements on the island. For most of the nineteenth century, mariners found shelter in its coves and hunters and fishermen exploited the marine life. Immigrant ranchers grazed livestock, and the military took advantage of the island’s strategic location.
Chumash Civilization and European Contact Archeological investigations indicate that Santa Cruz Island has been occupied for at least 9,000 years. The island was home to the largest population of island Chumash and developed a highly complex society dependent on marine harvest, craft specialization and trade with mainland groups. The Santa Cruz Island Chumash produced shell beads that they used for currency, which formed an important part of the overall Chumash economy. Those living on the east end of the island mined chert from the numerous island outcroppings to make tiny blades for drilling holes to make the shell disc beads. Native villagers had no known contact with outsiders until the 16th and early 17th centuries. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who is credited with the first European exploration of the California coast, observed at least six villages, though he and his crew never stopped at the island. The villages were called Niquipos, Mazul, Xuga, Nitel, Macamo, and Nimitapal. Cabrillo named the island San Lucas, although the Chumash called it Limuw. READ MORE FROM NPS
What to bring on your island adventure
- Lunch and snack (hard plastic coolers or durable bags)
- Water (reusable water bottles preferred)
- Bathing suit (you will wear this under the wetsuit)
- Warm clothing (for the ferry ride in the morning)
- Water shoes that cover the whole foot or that have a heel strap
- Hat or Visor
- Synthetic layer for extra warmth such as rashguard, polypro top or other synthetic top
- Sunscreen/Lip Balm
- Sunglasses w/ safety strap (example: Chums or Croakies)
- Waterproof camera or dry case for camera
- Personal medication
Make your own Getaway
This multi-day adventure takes place when you choose, and usually it is dictated by ferry availability. The first day commonly entails our adventure that is our most popular trip: Caves and Coves kayaking adventure. Other options are available as available You will leave your camping gear with us in our gear boxes while you kayak. All kayaking gear is provided and camping gear is also available for rent.
Camping on Santa Cruz Island:
We arrange your campsite for you ahead of time and your guide will show you to your resting place for the night in the beautiful Eucalyptus grove in Scorpion Valley. The camping area is at least 1/2 mile from the beach so you should prepare to carry your gear to your campsite. We like to refer to it as “primitive car-camping”. This means you can bring the two-burner stove and a cooler, but you should keep the other gear minimal. There are no facilities at the islands other than pit-toilets and running water from spigots. A suggested packing list is sent to you with your trip confirmation.
A great second day adventure would be paddling to Potato harbor and the Sea Caves of Coche Point. You would meet your guide at the beach at 8:30am with your lunch and snack ready to be packed into one of our dry bags. Your kayaking trip on day two is an amazing journey to a remote beach in Potato Harbor, only accessible by kayak or boat. Along the way you will explore several VERY large sea caves (given the right conditions of course!). Enjoy your lunch on the beach and after relaxing in the California sun, head downwind to Scorpion to complete your kayaking journey.
Length of stay:
Most people camp 1 night, unless you want to explore more!
Camping Gear is Available!
- 2-man Tent:
- Comfy 2-inch thick Paco Sleeping Pad:
- Sleeping Bag:
- Cook Set for up to 4 (stove, lantern, propane, cookware and utensils):
Organic Food Catering
We have partnered with Channel Islands Provisioners to provide organic, local, yummy food for your trip. Food is delivered dockside in health department approved, temperature-controlled containers with a reusable water bottle. Our day trip package include breakfast, lunch, & a snack for everything your need to fill you hungry belly on a island. You will choose your meal choices upon check-out, examples are below including camping menus. Chefs can arrange food for ANY DIET. Vegetarian, Vegan, GF, Pescatarian, no dairy, etc. Food is packaged in reusable containers! Dinners and breakfast will be in boil bags, a stove and boiling pot will be needed (rent!)
Day Trip PackageFerry breakfast: Market fresh seasonal fruit, nuts, greek yogurt, san marcos honey
- Sandwich options:
- Roasted Turkey: grilled peppers, roasted onion jam, swiss chard, muenster, flat bread
- Roasted sweet potato: goat cheese, basil pesto, pickle red onion, baguette
- Seafood salad: capers, cured olives, spinach, smoked paprika aioli, ciabatta
- Provisioner’s meatloaf: pepper ketchup, red onion, sharp cheddar, french roll
- Salad options:
- Chopped: w/ salami & roast turkey, provolone, chick peas, cherry tomato, cucumber, red onion, celery, romaine, lemon, olive oil
- Chipolte Roasted Chicken: w/ sweet corn, black beans, cherry tomato, peppers, corn chips, cilantro-lime dress
- Vietnamese vegetarian noodle: w/ marinated tofu
Snacks: Provisioner’s trail mix w/ ginger, fresh whole fruit, hummus and vegetables
Camping Additions: 1 night= $89.95/person | 2 nights= $149.95/person
- Dinner Optoins:
- Roasted Chicken: w/ asparagus, peas, artichokes, charred lemon-herb, sauce, lentils
- Braised Beef: w/ market vegetables, red wine sauce, polenta
- Fisherman’s Seafood Stew: w/ seasonal local seafood, celery, onion, carrot, tomato-saffron broth, new potato, crustini
- Vegetable Pave: w/ eggplant, zucchini, greens, mushroom, house ricotta, tomato sauce, herb pasta
Desserts: Assorted fresh baked cookies, double fudge brownie (addicting)
- Breakfast Options:
- Baked Omelet: w/ free range eggs, yukon gold potatoes, applewood smoked bacon
- Fire Roasted Poblanos: w/ queso fresco, roasted tomato salsa
The Channel Islands are the least visited National Park due the Park Service’s management plan to reduce human impact. Since only a limited number of people can travel each day, we suggest you plan several months in advance. Island destinations range in distance from 11 to 40+ miles away from the mainland. With modern high-speed, hydrofoil assisted catamarans, the journey across can take less than 60 minutes…. depending on the marine wildlife sightings! Almost all of our island adventures depart from Ventura Harbor, but please look for the departure location in the Adventure Details or ask an Outfitting Specialist by phone. Ferry’s are not operated by CIO.
CIO Mission & Commitment to YOU!
Adventure Happens Here!
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