Scorpion Ranch Caves & Coves
Voted 'Bucket List' Adventure by the Santa Barbara News Press
Typical Day is 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but varies per reservation
Start with some whale watching
The ferry that takes you to the Channel Islands National Park is operated by Island Packers out of Ventura Harbor. You will be aboard one of their very stable high-speed catamarans for the 1 hour journey to Santa Cruz Island. As you cross the marine rich Santa Barbara Channel the captain and crew keep a look-out for wildlife, including Humpback, California Gray, and Killer Whales! It is a common occurrence to find ourselves among MEGA-PODS of dolphins. For total enjoyment, it is best to enjoy a very light breakfast of fruit, saving a nice snack for your arrival at the island.
Gearing up for a Sea Cave Adventure
Upon arrival at Santa Cruz Island your guide/s will show you to the Channel Islands Outfitters (CIO) base camp where picnic tables, locked storage, and all of the gear we will need for the day of kayaking are located. Each kayaker will be handed a 3mm farmer john style wetsuit that is sized specifically, so be honest with heights and weights. Wetsuits are necessary for protection from the rocks and the sharp things living on them. It can also be a little chilly and most guests find the wetsuit quite comfortable.
Exploring Sea Caves by Kayak
What you've been waiting for all day! We won't spoil it here, but it's safe to say this 2 1/2 hr sea cave journey is an experience that you will not be able to compare with anything else. We've heard people say "It's like Disneyland!"... but the honest truth is Disneyland comes to the sea caves at Santa Cruz for ideas!
The Rest of Your Day
Following your unforgettable kayaking adventure there is typically free time. In their free time, guests may enjoy going snorkeling, searching for Santa Cruz Island Fox, or enjoying a nice picnic lunch on the beach. The ferry will arrive late in the afternoon to pick adventurers up and return them to Ventura Harbor. Ferry times differ per day, please check your confirmation.
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):
Choose your own adventure
You are special, and we love that about you! You like places where the birds sing and that's all you hear. So why should you have to fit your special self into a round hole? You don't! CIO custom outings utilize all of the amazing resources that make up our packaged programs, but give you the flexibility to go where you want and do what you want once there. We can tailer to any size group, wether it is a retreat or reunion, we got your back! Learn more here: Custom Outings
Interested in a private guide for the entire day? We can do that! For $250 per person your group will enjoy a private guide all day long. They will meet you in the morning at the Ferry and see you off in the afternoon. With this you will receive a unique and tailored experience for what your group wants. This includes Guided hiking, kayaking, & snorkeling. Whatever you feel like, they will do their best to accommodate.
Book a private guide here: