Kayaking in Caves and Hiking Santa Cruz Island

We finally had a bit of adventure this summer – we went kayaking through the caves on Santa Cruz Island just off the golden coast of California. We ferried out with the kayaks aboard and right away the day turned adventuresome.

That, my friends, is a huge sea lion on the left hanging out on the buoy. See the other littler ones? Those are normal sized.

Huge sea lion

Lots of water splashing over the sides of the boat.

High waves on the side of the ferry boat

And great big pods of dolphins started swimming up to and beside the boat, surfing in the waves coming off the boat. See the video on FB.

When we got to the island, we saw the island foxes.

Huge sea lion

Cute little things and super interested in everyone’s beached bags. We’d been warned that they are good at stealing food and so we put our picnic food into a fox box. The kayaks were unloaded from the ferry and set up on the beach for us to gear up and head out.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

We headed downwind (as recommended) so that we could tag the caves before the afternoon breezes kicked in and turned the paddling hard.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

Just look at how much seaweed is in this water – and the water was so clear, you could see really far down.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

Seriously, Owen would hate all this seaweed. It made paddling a little hard too, but we learned rather than digging the paddle in just to skim it across the surface to keep up our speed.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

We paddled in between rocks, looking at all the different colors.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

Rested when we got tired or just wanted to soak up the scenery.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

it was a cloudy morning for sure, and not too hot, which was nice.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

Some of the caves we could paddle into and others were too low.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

This one was larger and we could paddle all the way into it and turn around.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

Lots of other paddlers and divers were coming in and out of the caves too.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

Pretty dark in this one! It went all the way back and we didn’t have a flashlight, so we turned around. It was in this cave that Steve’s phone went plop! into the water. He snapped it into the little carrying thing and turned to help me fasten the helmet back onto my boat and it softly fell into the water. Ugh!

Kayaking Santa Cruz

There’s a blowhole in this cave!

Blowhole Santa Cruz cave

After a few hours of paddling and exploring, we headed back to the rocky beach.

Kayaking Santa Cruz

We had some lunch and then decided to hike to the top of the island. Past the ranch-like buildings is a camping grounds. The island used to be a working sheep ranch but was donated and now it’s a nature preserve. Biologists and other scientists come to work and study here.

Santa Cruz ranch

Lots of old farm equipment leading up to the ranch area.

Santa Cruz ranch

See the little fox at the wheel?

We turned off and started chugging up and up.

Hill on Santa Cruz Island

The landscape looks much like that around Santa Barbara, except a bit drier these days.

Hill on Santa Cruz Island

We skipped Potato Harbor, but we should come back and stay overnight and do it.

Hilltop on Santa Cruz

Gorgeous coastline

Santa Cruz island coastline

Colorful vegetation

Vegetation Santa Cruz island

Weirdly sparkly plant – looks like it’s been dipped in sugar

Sparkly plant Santa Cruz Island

Lots more coastline with Anacapa Island in the distance.

Santa Cruz Island coastline

Santa Cruz Island coastline

Santa Cruz Island coastline

Santa Cruz Island coastline

We arrived home that evening dirty, exhausted, and hungry but happy. We both slept amazingly deeply that night. Getting out in nature is the trick I tell you!

 

fourteenergirl Written by:

A mother, sister, wife, and daughter who writes, knits, hikes, and practices yoga on the west coast. Loves a zippy chardonnay or a tart margarita!

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