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Spend the Night at Santa Cruz Island- Explore the World’s Largest Sea Caves
- Departure Harbor: Santa Barbara Harbor (at the Santa Barbara Landing)
- Spend two days exploring Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary
Trip Specific Information
- Experience Level: None needed, SCUBA certification required if diving.
- Minimum Age: 7 years
- Minimum Number of Guests: 12
- Maximum Number of Guests: 24
You will board Truth starting at 7:00 AM and check in with our crew. A bunk will be assigned to you based on your reservation request.
A mandatory briefing will occur at 8:00 AM and all loading of personal items should be completed before then. All guests must be present for this orientation. The crew will introduce themselves and provide a comprehensive safety briefing and trip orientation. After the briefing, we will depart for Santa Cruz Island.
Morning coffee/tea and continental breakfast will be available during boarding, a hot breakfast will be provided while underway.
Boarding and check in begins at 7:00 AM. Mandatory briefing at 8:00 AM. Departure at 8:30 AM.
The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the best places to view marine mammals on the planet. During our crossing, we’ll have our eyes peeled in search of whales and dolphins. If we encounter any, we’ll slow down and enjoy their company for a short while before resuming our journey to Santa Cruz Island.
On our first day, we will cross the channel to the west end of Santa Cruz Island. Once we arrive, we will start our day with a kayak tour, exploring giant sea caves, including Painted Cave,
In addition to Painted Cave, there are roughly a dozen other large sea caves that we may be able to explore (everything is dependent on swell and tides).
Because we have the whole day, we will take our time in the caves, exploring and enjoying the beauty of these giant sea caves.
This guided kayaking trip is “one-way” or “downwind”. With the Truth (the big boat) always nearby, we’ll begin our paddle on at the Blimp Hangar on the west and head down current to Quail rock where Truth will be waiting to pick us up!
After our kayaking is wrapped up, we’ll have the later part of the afternoon for diving, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, and relaxing as we find our resting place for the evening in a secluded cove. (SCUBA diving is limited to open water-certified individuals and you’re welcome to bring along full dive gear.)
A full hot dinner will be served at anchor, followed by dessert for those with a sweet tooth. Alcoholic beverages may be brought with you on the trip but may only be enjoyed after you have stopped in-water activities for the day.
The overnight stay on this trip gives you a taste of the quintessential island experience – relax under an island sunset and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean lapping at the Truth’s hull.
Wake up at the islands, in a beautiful and protected cove, to the smell of breakfast and coffee. Make an optional morning dive, snorkel, or swim if you want to get wet! (SCUBA diving is limited to open water-certified individuals and you’re welcome to bring along full dive gear.) If you don’t want to get in the water right away, enjoy a slower morning aboard, relaxing on the sun deck with your breakfast and coffee.
After the morning swim/dive, we’ll head to our kayak destination where we’ll put in near Arch Rock, an unbelievable feature on the island. There are many caves to explore in the area and lots of wildlife to experience. We’ll continue down the coast into several coves and end the paddle at a large cave we call “peg leg”.
After everything is loaded back on the Truth, we’ll pull the anchor and begin our journey home to Santa Barbara.
Enjoy the 2.5-hour return trip back to Santa Barbara Harbor. Keep your eyes peeled for sea life along the way. You can bring alcoholic beverages but they are only to be enjoyed on the return trip home.
Estimated arrival time in Santa Barbara Harbor is 4:00 pm
Organic Produce from Tutti Frutti Farms
We source most of our produce from the local farmers’ markets in order to serve a seasonal, sustainable, and healthy menu.
We can accommodate the following diets and ALL severe food allergies:
- Gluten Free (we do not provide gluten free bread)
- If you have any severe food allergies, please inform us at least 7 days prior to departure so our galley can plan correctly. Thank you.
Channel Islands Expeditions employs world-class chefs with decades of experience. Learn more about what to expect from our galley chefs.
Think lodge, not cruise 🙂
Accommodations are in our comfortable bunk room. We supply each bunk with:
- 1 Fleece Blanket
- 1 Medium soft pillow with pillowcase
- Privacy curtain
The bunk room has air conditioning and is kept close to the outdoor ambient temperatures. If you tend to get cold in these temperatures, you may want to bring additional bedding such as a sleeping bag or comforter.
Personal vs Oversized Bunks
- Each person will be assigned a bunk. Personal-sized bunks are approximately 3 feet wide by 6.5 feet long and oversized bunks are approximately 5 to 6 feet wide by 7 feet long. When making a reservation, you may choose to upgrade to an oversized bunk for an additional $100 (limited quantity).
About Santa Cruz Island
You will be spending your time at the west end of Santa Cruz Island. The land here is closed to the public as it is owned by the Nature Conservancy, so we will stick to exploring the beautiful and remote coastline by kayak and boat. We will explore sea caves, tuck into secluded coves, and dive into the underwater world of Santa Cruz Island.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. All CIEx trips are vessel-supported and include transportation to and from your island destination.
The minimum age on this trip is 12.
All children 16 and under MUST BE with an adult in a tandem kayak.
Our age limits are for your safety and enjoyment.
YES! There is no way around this. You don’t need to be excellent at swimming laps, but you need to be comfortable treading water and being in deep water.
We don’t allow reservations of single kayaks ahead of time, but we have single kayaks available for those of you traveling solo or in odd-numbered groups.
The kayaking on this trip is of moderate difficulty due to the chance of exposure to wind and waves on the west end of Santa Cruz Island. You will not be paddling into the wind, we paddle downwind, but you may have to paddle in a range of conditions. We recommend that participants be in reasonable physical shape and comfortable on the ocean.
Yes, prices vary based on day of week and season. Please call or email with the dates you are interested in and we’ll get you a quote.
Difference between CIEx Sea Cave Kayaking Trips:
- This trip to Santa Cruz is longer and might be more challenging depending on weather conditions.
- The highlight of this trip is Painted Cave (one of the largest sea caves in the world); at Anacapa, the arches are the highlights in addition to many smaller sea caves.
- The water is typically a bit colder on the north side of Santa Cruz Island compared to Anacapa, and so we provide farmer John-style wetsuits.
- We provide breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages on this trip. You do not need to bring your own food.
Difference between CIEx Sea Cave Kayaking Trips and Scorpion Ranch Trips:
- All CIEx kayaking trips are vessel-supported. Rather than launching and landing through surf at the Scorpion Ranch beach, all CIEx trips launch kayaks from our motherships with crew assistance from our easy access water-level swim step. On our trips, you paddle in one direction with the wind and get picked up at the end of your paddle by the mothership. You’ll have the support vessel nearby at all times to assist you if needed.
- You are our exclusive purpose. All CIEx kayak guests are here for the same reason… to kayak into sea caves! Scorpion Ranch trips require ferry transportation to get to the island paddling destination, which can result in wait times between activities.
- We paddle at areas where we barely encounter other boaters or visitors to the islands. This means fewer crowds and more wildlife. Scorpion Ranch is the most heavily visited part of Channel Islands National Park – if you’re looking to get a more remote experience, join us!
We assign one bunk per person as per Coast Guard requirements. Each bunk has a privacy curtain and a reading light.
-Tanner Keys | Google
-Mark R. | Yelp
-David C. | Yelp
-Chuyên L. | Yelp
-John S. | Yelp
Recently went on a 5 night, 6 day liveaboard trip off the Truth. The crew and captains were all very nice and welcoming. The boat has great safety protocols to ensure us divers were safe throughout the entirety of this trip. Chef Tim was fantastic! I have never had better quality food on a boat trip, and he has definitely set the bar high. We had amazing homemade dishes almost every meal, he had vegetarian and vegan options as well. I would 100% recommend this boat to anyone interested in planning a multi-day dive trip to the Channel Islands.
-Jill D. | Yelp
We had a wonderful time kayaking through the sea caves and Anacapa Arch. All the on board staff were excellent. We will definitely come back and do a different tour with them.
-Jen Y. | Yelp
-Allyson Arons | TripAdvisor
-Tad | TripAdvisor
-Alicia | TripAdvisor
-Denise W | TripAdvisor