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Epic Overnight
Painted Cave Kayak, Snorkel, and Dive

Santa Barbara Harbor

2 DAYS – Spend two days exploring the largest sea caves in the world by kayak and snorkel in Channel Islands National Park! Spend the night anchored off the remote coast of Santa Cruz Island aboard our custom expedition vessel, Truth.

What's Included

  • Boat trip from Santa Barbara Harbor to Santa Cruz Island on the Truth
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinner, and desserts.  Snacks and cold/hot beverages
  • Guides and naturalists
  • Tandem or single person kayak w/ backrest, seat, and adjustable paddle
  • 3mm Farmer John Wetsuit
  • Lifejacket (PFD)
  • Cave helmet
  • Mask and snorkel

Select your trip dates

Select your trip dates

What's Included

  • Boat trip from Santa Barbara Harbor to Santa Cruz Island on the Truth
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinner, and desserts.  Snacks and cold/hot beverages
  • Guides and naturalists
  • Tandem or single person kayak w/ backrest, seat, and adjustable paddle
  • 3mm Farmer John Wetsuit
  • Lifejacket (PFD)
  • Cave helmet
  • Mask and snorkel

Trip Details

Spend the Night at Santa Cruz Island- Explore the World’s Largest Sea Caves

Location Information

  • 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

Important Times

  • Check In: 7:00 AM
  • Briefing: 8:00 PM
  • Departure: 8:30 AM
  • Return to Santa Barbara: on second day of trip by 5:30 PM

How do we calculate ticket prices?

Ticket Costs

Itinerary

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

Cuisine

Fresh Asparagus aboard the boat

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:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • 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.

Accommodations

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). 

Destination

kayakers enjoying their tour of the channel islands

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.

Learn more about Santa Cruz Island

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need boat transportation?

No. All CIEx trips are vessel-supported and include transportation to and from your island destination.

What is the age limit?

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.

Do I need to know how to swim?

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.

If I am solo or in an odd number group will I be in a tandem kayak with a stranger?

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. 

How difficult is the kayaking?

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.

Can we land on Santa Cruz and hike?

This is an ocean experience without an option to land. If you really like the idea of hiking, we suggest you try our 4 Day Expedition.

Do we offer private trips to Painted Cave?

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.

What's the difference between Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island?

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!

How many people can fit in an oversized bunk?

We assign one bunk per person as per Coast Guard requirements. Each bunk has a privacy curtain and a reading light.

Testimonials

tanner
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

1st Sea Kayaking Experience

Amazing experience led by Garrett and his team to the Channel Islands. I had travelled from Hawaiʻi for this 4 day adventure. I'm not a diver (they had a ton of opportunities for them) but was able to free-dive and go kayaking. I had never kayaking on the ocean like this but felt incredibly confident with the instruction from the guides and crew. Incredibly competent and friendly, the trip felt completely about the participant experience. Kayaking around and seeing all the Harbor & Elephant seals and sea lions was an amazing experience. Their knowledge on the water, the wildlife, and especially the history of the place made for an experience I've been recommending to friends since the trip. Great grub too!
5/5stars

- | Google

mark r
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Kayaking Channel Islands

Did this with my wife and 4 of our friends. Drove up from the IE , 2 hour drive, well worth it! What a great crew! Very knowledgeable about the island and surrounding area. Going in and out of the caves was awesome, though challenging at times but that made it even more enjoyable. If you are considering this trip, DO IT! We WILL do it again.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

david c
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Anacapa Caves

Great outfit. Very professional guides, safety and COVID conscious. I went on a trip to Anacapa Island in mid-November. The cruise out was pretty quick. The wildlife on the way was excellent. The caves and rocks on Anacapa were wonderful to play in. I will return again when the Gray Whales begin to head back up the coast. I highly recommend them.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

Chuyên L.
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Channel Island National Park

Channel Island National Park so amazing and beautiful places. And The Wild Blue Adventurer was professional. We loved it . Thanks You so Mụch for get we the nice trip .
5/5stars

- | Yelp

john s
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Father and Son day

I had an epic day with my son in late July 2020. Our guide Phil was a UCSB grad, marine biologist who was in area, as his normal guiding in Antarctica was limited due to Covid. The boat staff was knowledgeable, friendly and worked hard to make our day both enjoyable and safe. Only 8 people on a boat that can hold 30-40 and they were very Covid compliant. Masks in the boat at all times (except lunch - bring your own food) and outdoor seating but could take off masks in the double kayaks. Really easy and felt safe and compliant. 10 out of 10 and I'm a tough critic.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

yelp
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

5 Night Liveaboard Trip

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.

5/5stars

- | Yelp

jelly fish
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Kayaking Anacapa Arch

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.

5/5stars

- | Yelp

go blue icon
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Great Family Day Adventure

We had the BEST first time kayaking experience with Blue Ocean. Garret and his crew are great! The Anacapa tour is something special... we all loved it! It was a perfect day for our family. We highly recommend!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Another great day kayaking with Blue Ocean

We had a great day at Anacapa with Garrett, Jordan and the rest of the crew. We paddled for about 3 hours but it is not too strenuous, so if you are wondering if you can do it, you probably can! Thank you, Blue Ocean Crew!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

HIGHLY RECOMMEND

LOVED IT! Truly an amazing experience that I will never forget. Awesome crew, wonderful day, all around great time. I hope to do it again some day!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
National Park Swimming and Kayaking
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

A great time!

Even though it was a foggy day, we had a great time. The boat crew was great and friendly. Garrett the guide was knowledgeable and friendly. He even saved a pelican-"Birdie Sanders" .
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor