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Giant Sea Caves @ Painted Cave - Kayak and Snorkel Adventure

Painted Cave is known for the lichen and moss that grows at the entrance of this gigantic sea cave, the largest in the world. Weaving over 1/4 mile into the darkness, this is a wild experience! 

What's Included

snorkel-whiteSnorkeling with sea lions in kelp forests! All of our island trips include snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, fins). You may take the mask and snorkel with you while kayaking. We’ll have the pick-up boat ready at an excellent snorkeling location when you return from the kayaking trip.

  • Boat trip from Santa Barbara Harbor to Santa Cruz Island on the Truth
  • Continental Breakfast, hot lunch, snacks and cold and hot beverages (sodas, coffee, and tea)
  • 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

Book your Giant Painted Cave Tour Now
Departs Santa Barbara

Book your Giant Cave Tour Now
Departs Santa Barbara

What's Included

  • Boat trip from Santa Barbara Harbor to Santa Cruz Island on the Truth
  • Continental Breakfast, hot lunch, snacks and cold and hot beverages (sodas, coffee, and tea)
  • Guides and naturalists
  • Tandem or single person kayak w/ backrest, seat, and adjustable paddle
  • 3mm Farmer John Wetsuit
  • Lifejacket (PFD)
  • Cave helmet

Fun Details

Explore some the World’s Largest Sea Caves – Depart from Santa Barbara – Hot Lunch Served

Important Times

  • Check-In: 7:15 am
  • Briefing and Departure: 7:30 am
  • Return to Santa Barbara Harbor: 5:30pm

Adventure time at the islands is around 5 hours. The dolphin and whale crossing takes roughly 2.5 hours each way. We have bunks down below where you can nap on the crossing. We also have a sundeck for enjoying your morning coffee or an adult beverage on the return trip.

Location Information

  • Departure Harbor: Santa Barbara Harbor (at the Santa Barbara Landing docks)
  • Destination: West end of Santa Cruz Island
  • Spend all day in Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary

Trip Specific Information

  • Experience Level: Some previous kayaking is helpful but not needed
  • Minimum Age:  7 years
  • Minimum Number of Guests Required To Run: 4

Pre Trip Planning

MUST BRING ITEMS:

  • Water bottle– reusable water bottles can be filled onboard. We do not provide plastic water bottles (sorry)
  • Warm clothing – street clothes are fine, dress in layers and bring warm clothes. Long pants are recommended. 
  • Kayak Clothing – bathing suits and sun tops. You will be given a farmer John style wetsuit (like overalls) and a wetsuit top.
  • Sunscreen – We prefer reef safe sunscreen. Learn what makes sunscreen reef safe here.
  • Personal Medication (inform CIEx crew when boarding)
  • Towel-for drying off

Recommended Items

  • Waterproof cameras – we strongly recommend you take your phone or camera kayaking only if you have a waterproof case for it.
  • Personal wetsuit for extra warmth while snorkeling.
  • Motion sickness medicine.
  • Gratuity for guides and crew.

Gourmet Hot Lunch

We serve both breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is healthy and light, we’ll cook eggs to order and a breakfast bar with breads, cereals, and fruit. While you’re kayaking the chef puts together a hot lunch, which is a spread of options with a mediterranean theme.

Friendly Guides and Crew

Check-in at the Santa Barbara Landing and hop onto the Truth for the day. We take great care in making your journey comfortable. When it’s time to kayak, you’ll dress up and walk down a short ladder to our swim deck and a guide will help you onto your kayak. Super easy, lots of fun!

snorkel-dark

Snorkeling from Kayaks

Each kayak will be loaded with a mesh bag with masks and snorkels for each paddler. You can hop off the kayaks at any time and take a look below. Our insurance requires all swimmers to wear your PFD, so we don’t provide fins.

Conditions on the West end of Santa Cruz can change quickly, and we’ll do our best to make time for snorkeling at the end of your kayaking trip, but if we need to wrap things up in order to beat the wind on our way home, your snorkeling may be cut short.

If you bring your own gear, and we have time, we’ll do our best to put you on a good snorkeling spot from the boat, where you don’t have to wear a PFD as long as you have a wetsuit on.

Those of you who are super excited about snorkeling, we suggest you try our Epic Overnight – Sea Cave Kayak, Snorkel, and Dive as it allows for much more time for a real kelp forest experience. The snorkeling at the islands is amazing and we want to show you that, but we have to balance safety and timing to make the day enjoyable.

Testimonials

tanner
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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.
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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
Giant Sea Caves at Painted Cave – Kayak Adventure
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

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need boat transportation?

Boat Transportation is included. All CIEx trips are vessel-supported on our custom built expedition vessels. 

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?

You must know how to swim to go snorkeling. If you aren’t a strong swimmer we recommend the Anacapa Caves and Coves Day Trip

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 trip does not include landing or hiking on Santa Cruz Island. If you want to hike on the Channel Islands, we recommend that you book a 4-Day Expedition Trip with us! If you are interested in hiking specifically on Santa Cruz Island, we recommend contacting Island Packers. Based on the amount of time it takes to travel across the Santa Barbara Channel, kayaking is all we’ll have time to do in a day on this trip!

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 Island 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 food 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!