- What to Expect
- About Area
- Planning Tips
- * Ferry Tkts
Getting onto Santa Cruz IslandIn December 2015 a large storm damaged the pier at Scorpion Ranch. The Park Service is currently working to restore access via a landing pier. At this time, landing at Scorpion is limited to 80 people per day by way of landing crafts called “skiffs”. These take 6 passengers at at time to the beach with gear. This is why we are operating this tour as fully inclusive. We want you to only have to worry about your clothing and toiletries, we’ll take care of the rest. This means we’ll provide tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and the eating utensils, plates, bowls, and cups. We’ll also provide coffee and hot water for tea in the morning on the island. Dockside breakfast options include fruit/granola, yogurt/granola, veggie breakfast bun, ham breakfast bun. Lunch options can be selected from the entire list, including upgrades.
What is the Adventure Plan?Our group size for this tour will be limited to 8 people each day. When we arrive at Scorpion, we will use our carts to bring all of your camping gear to the campground and set-up camp, enjoy a nice lunch, and head back to down to the beach for an afternoon of snorkeling. We usually snorkel for about 1-2 hours into the kelp forests. We’ll gear you up in 5mm dive suits w/ hoods and boots, so you’ll be super comfy for this amount of time. The second day we’ll take down camp first thing in the morning and then gear up for kayaking to Potato Harbor, where we’ll have lunch.
Our itinerary may also include guided hikes and we may switch activities based on conditions and schedule.
For dinner we will come together for a pot-luck style buffet where all you have to do is help boil water and enjoy a tasty organic spread of local ingredients warmed to perfection.
Explore the Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Marine Reserve
In 2002, a 4 mile wide “no-take” area was established at East Santa Cruz Island, along with many more at other areas of the Channel Islands National Park. A no-take area is defined as a body of water where commercial and recreational fishing/hunting is prohibited year round. The area is patrolled by the National Park Service annually to educated and enforce violations.
What should I expect when I arrive at Scorpion?
Santa Cruz Island is a rustic and relatively undeveloped island wilderness. It was a sheep ranching island up until the late part of the 20th Century, but it has been under a very rapid and thorough preservation process in the past 2 decades.
There are no services at Santa Cruz Island. Water and pit toilets are the only amenities you will find. Our Adventure Base Camp is equipped with picnic tables, storage boxes, drinking water, sunscreen, and the comical muse of the guides.
We have storage boxes that are secured while we are on the water. They are shared by all clients, and are mostly for protection from the Island Foxes and the Ravens.
Places to Stay in the Ventura Area
Your adventure starts in the Ventura Harbor at the Island Packers ferry. Parking is FREE. When you arrive in the parking lot, park closest to the road that you drove in on and make sure you’re within the yellow lines. Eat light and get a good night of rest. Here are some of our Ventura recommendations.
Camping in the area
We do not recommend camping the night prior to your departure. The camping areas are not very close and you will have to get up really early to take down camp. If you have an RV or motorhome, this might be a bit easier. Here are the camping areas from closest to furthest.
- McGrath State Beach
- Carpinteria State Beach
- El Capitan State Beach
- Refugio State Beach
- Holiday Inn Express Ventura Harbor
- Four Points Sheraton Ventura Harbor
- Ventura Beach Marriott
- Comfort Inn Ventura Beach
- Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
- Brophy Bros Restaurant Ventura Harbor– Lunch and Dinner – Harbor-side Dining and Cocktails
- Boatyard Cafe – Serving Breakfast and Coffee
- Surf Brewery – Local craft beers
- Spencer Makenzies’ Fish Tacos – Lunch and Dinner beer and wine
- Water (reusable water bottles preferred)
- Bathing suit (you will wear this under the wetsuit). It is best to have on under clothing upon arrival.
- 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 rash-guard, 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
- Waterproof Headlamp/s
Lodging in the Ventura Harbor Area
(Listed by closest to Island Packers in Ventura Harbor)
Food and Beverages
Santa Barbara Area
If you are traveling from the Santa Barbara area, please depart 1.5 hours prior to the departure time on your itinerary. We ask that you arrive 45 minutes prior so that we can check you in and board the ferry for a prompt departure. The driving time from Santa Barbara to Ventura harbor is 30-40 minutes. Traffic is unusual but check upon waking to make sure you don’t get stuck in a jam!
Suggested Packing List for Day Adventures
If you have other questions or need assistance in finding something in the area, you can call us anytime. Your guide will also be able to help you with local favorites as well.
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 deluxe food package include breakfast, lunch, & a snack for everything your need to fill you hungry belly on a island.
Lunch and Breakfast Includedyou can select your choices at checkout
Dockside Breakfast Options
Yogurt and Fruit Market berries and fresh seasonal fruit, nuts, seeds, greek yogurt, san marcos farms honey [veg]
Fruit and Granola Provisioner’s granola with organic seasonal fruit, nuts, seeds, dried fruit [veg, lactose free, gluten free]
Veggie B-fast Bun Warm breakfast bun with pastry, eggs, mushrooms, spinach, and mozzarella [veg]
Ham B-fast Bun Warm breakfast bun with pastry, eggs, ham, spinach, and mozzarella
Cueva Chicken Sandwich or Salad: herb marinated char broiled organic chicken breast, apple slaw with cilantro-yogurt dressing, sharp cheddar cheese, baguette or organic mixed greens tossed with extra virgin olive oil [salad is GF]
Orizaba Italian Sandwich or Salad: dry italian salami, mortadella, smoked ham, provisioner’s giardiniera, dijon aioli, provolone, mozzarella, baguette or organic mixed greens tossed with extra virgin olive oil [contains tree nuts, salad is GF}
Kale Salad: spiced white bean and dried tomato spread, char broiled eggplant, seasonal greens with lemon and EVO, heirloom carrots, Persian cucumbers, kale tossed in extra virgin olive oil [vegan, GF]
Pesto Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich: goat cheese, basil pesto, pickle red onion, baguette [vegetarian]
Roasted Turkey on Flatbread: spice-rubbed turkey, tomato-onion chutney, arugula, muenster, flat bread
Seafood Salad Sandwich: conserved local catch, capers, cured olives, spinach, smoked paprika aioli, ciabatta [lactose free]
Ham ‘Sandy’: “nueske’s applewood smoked ham, hardboiled egg, house mustard, bread & butter pickle, manchego, baguette
Roasted Chix Wrap: chipotle roasted chicken, roasted corn, black beans, cherry tomato, romaine, cilantro-lime dressing, whole wheat wrap [lactose free]
Meatball Banh Mi: ham pate’, cucumber, jalepeno, daikon pickle, carrot, napa cabbage, chili aioli, baguette [lactose free, contains pork]
Chopped Salad: salami, roast turkey, provolone, chick peas, cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumber, red onoin, celery, radish, sweet peppers, romaine, lemon, olive oil [gluten free]
Grilled Chix Salad: jidori chicken breast, roasted heirloom carrots & beets, kale, quinoa, golden raisin, honey-sriracha vinaigrette [lactose free, gluten free]
Rice Noodle Salad: w/ marinated tofu, shitake mushroom, napa cabbage, daikon, carrot, cilantro, mint, peanuts, chili-lime dressing [veg, vegan, lactose free, gluten free, contains peanuts]
Included in Lunch Bag Provisioner’s trail mix w/ ginger [veg, vegan, lactose free, gluten free, contains nuts], fresh whole fruit, savory snack, water bottle with chilled filtered water supplied. Packaged in lunch bag in reusable containers and cloth napkins.
Add a Sweet Treat – $8/each
Cookies Assortment: chocolate chip w/ walnuts, snickerdoodles, oatmeal molasses raisin [contains tree nuts]
Double Fudge Brownie: w/ walnuts [contains tree nuts]
Black Rice Coconut Puddling: w/ seasonal fruit [veg, vegan, lactose free, gluten free]
Island Packer Tickets to Santa Cruz Island – Scorpion Ranch
Round Trip Camping Tickets: INCLUDED
We include the ferry in your trip cost. We will be contacting you after you book this online to confirm your departure times and return times, as they do vary. You can book this online and we’ll take care of all of your reservations.
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. Santa Cruz Island is 20 miles from Ventura. With modern high-speed, hydrofoil assisted catamarans, the journey across takes 60-75 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 operated by Island Packers, which is not part of CIO. Each visit to the Channel Islands is unique, which is why we keep ferry tickets separate. This allows you to choose your own itinerary. Island Packers is the ferry company that takes us to East Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion ranch. You can purchase tickets through CIO, or you can contact Island Packers and reserve with them.