Ventura, California

Kayak Santa Cruz Island

Originally added by Meghan Young

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a beautiful spot off the coast of Ventura County that's only accessible by boat. Santa Cruz Island is nestled within the sanctuary and boasts incredible biodiversity and stunning views. The best way to take it all in is via kayak.

As the largest of the Channel Islands, Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Island National Park is an ecological treasure, and to kayak it is to get to experience it in a manner unlike any other. Getting to the island is easiest through Island Packers where you can also reserve a kayak (so pack efficiently due to limited space).

From Ventura Harbor you will travel to Santa Cruz Island and then disembark for a short chat with your guide before gearing up and hitting the water. The guides from the Channel Islands Adventure Company will happily answer questions and point out wildlife as you paddle around, exploring sea caves and sampling the local kelp. If you are lucky you might even see the seals "hauling out" aka sitting on rocks above the surface of the water to warm up after swimming for hours. 

Make sure you bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the island when you are done paddling around; you will be hungry!

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Stand Up Paddle
Family Friendly


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Really cool caves

There are at least 3-5 cool sea caves to check out with crystal clear visibility in the water. Just try to go when the wind is calm because it’s hard to fight the wind. Go to the left of the dock first so you don’t have to fight the wind and waves coming back

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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Win a Vacation Getaway to Santa Cruz!

Experience all Santa Cruz County has to offer this season! Enter to win a customized “Let’s Cruz” vacation getaway and choose from an array of activities to enhance your visit. 

Grand prize includes a 2-night stay at a three-bedroom condo at Pajaro Dunes Resort, a $150 “Capitola Dine & Shop Experience” gift certificate in Capitola Village, a Craftbar Experience at Annieglass Studios for four guests, four tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and four tickets to Roaring Camp Railroads.

Customize your “Let’s Cruz” vacation package entry by selecting four activities below to include outdoor adventure, dining, beer and wine tasting, family fun, spa treatments, and relaxation.