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Caves and Coves Kayak Adventure

Boat Departs from Oxnard Harbor @ 7:55am Daily.

Our Most Popular DAY TRIP – Visit Anacapa Island where Dolphins, Sea Lions, and Pelicans raise their young and live on the volcanic craggy shores of the smallest island in the National Park. 

Explore the sea caves and arches on your one-way downwind paddle down the North side of the island. It’s like a river trip on the ocean!

What's Included

  • Boat to Anacapa Island on our custom kayak adventure vessel, the Sunfish
  • Snorkeling from the boat after kayaking (masks, snorkels, fins provided)
  • Whale watching on the channel crossing.
  • Guides and naturalists.
  • Easy and stable kayaks w/ backrest seat adjustable paddle.
  • Gear: Lifejacket (PFD), Cave Helmet, Nylon Paddling Jacket

snorkel-whiteSnorkeling is included on all of our tours and takes place from the boat at the end of your tour. We provide you with mask, snorkel, and fins. You can take the mask with you on your kayaking trip and go for a swim if you’d like.

Book Your Trip Now

Book Your Trip Now

What's Included

snorkel-whiteSnorkeling is included on all of our tours and takes place from the boat at the end of your tour. We provide you with mask, snorkel, and fins. You can take the mask with you on your kayaking trip and go for a swim if you’d like.

  • Boat to Anacapa Island on our custom kayak adventure vessel, the Sunfish
  • Whale watching during transit
  • Guides and naturalists
  • Easy and stable kayaks w/ backrest seat adjustable paddle
  • Lifejacket (PFD)
  • Cave Helmet
  • Nylon Paddling Jacket

Trip Details

Rated One of the Most Popular Day Trips in Southern California

Two kayakers going over an ocean waterfall

Location Information

  • Departure Harbor: Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard CA (Marine Emporium Landing)
  • Destination: Anacapa Island
  • Spend all day in Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary

2022 Departure Dates and Times

2022 Season Dates

May 1st through November 5th

  • Check-In: 7:55am
  • Departure: 8:10am
  • Whale Watching on journey to Anacapa Island: 1.5 hours
  • Kayaking: 3 hours
  • Boat Crossing to Oxnard: 1 hour
  • Whale Watching on return to Oxnard: By 4:00pm
Mega Pods of dolphins mid channel.

Trip Specific Information

  • Experience Level: Easy for all ages and skill levels (conditions permitting)
  • Minimum Age:  7 years old*
  • Minimum Number of Guests: 4
  • Maximum Number of Guests: 32
  • Distance Paddled: approximately 4 miles downwind

*Paddlers under age 12 must be in a tandem kayak with one adult.

How do we calculate ticket prices?

Ticket Prices

Itinerary

Your guides will greet you on the grass in front of the Sunfish docked at the Marine Emporium of Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard CA.

Free Parking for the Day – You can park in the Marine Emporium parking lot for the day for FREE.

Bathrooms available- There are bathrooms available at the Marine Emporium Landing. We have a bathroom on the Sunfish (our boat for the day) as well along with a changing room to get into your kayak clothing. 

Coffee Shop nearby – If you arrive early, there is a coffee shop in the Marine Emporium Landing complex.

Whales and Dolphins – We stop for marine mammals!

The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the best places to view marine mammals on the planet. During our 14 mile crossing, we’ll have our eyes peeled in search of whales and dolphins. When we see some, we’ll slow down and enjoy their company for a short while before continuing our journey to Anacapa Island.

Kayaking at Anacapa is… incredible! Steep cliff faces, secluded coves, inlets packed with marine life, beautiful sea caves and arches are among just some of the sights you can explore with our expert guides. Kelp forests and sea grass flourish along this rocky coast, and provide habitat for an abundance of wildlife. Though small in stature, Anacapa provides perhaps the most diverse sea cave experience of any of the Channel Islands. The volcanic rock cliffs of the island have been eroded over time by the sea and wind, leaving spectacular geological formations that you’ll have to see to believe.

Anacapa Island is one of the smallest of the Channel Islands, but it is home to some of the largest arches and sea caves, which we’ll paddle through. One of the special highlights of Anacapa is the bird life. Thousands of seabirds use this rocky island for nesting and roosting. Sea lions and harbor seals often swim by to check out kayakers and can be seen sunning themselves perched atop rocks or lounging on cobble beaches. As we kayak along steep volcanic cliffs, through shallow waters, and over kelp forest canopies, you’ll often glimpse the variety of fishes and other sea life found below the surface.

One Way Guided Kayaking Trip

This guided kayaking trip is “one-way”. We’ll begin our paddle when the Sunfish (the big boat) drops us off at West Anacapa Island. From there, we’ll head down current and down wind, finishing at the iconic Anacapa Arch where the Sunfish will be waiting to pick us up!

Guides will hand the following gear out:

  • Lifejackets
  • Cave helmets
  • Dry bags
  • Snorkel and Mask
  • Paddling Jacket (nylon over jacket)

We snorkel from the kayaks, which is the only way to get into the beautiful coves where all of the creatures are. There are even a few options to snorkel through sea caves if conditions are good. Snorkeling will be condition dependent. Consult with your guides for advice on the best snorkeling conditions and place to go during the trip.

1)Drop Off – The Sunfish will anchor at “Keyhole Arch” and the crew will begin unloading kayaks while everyone gets ready to get on the water.

2) Sea Caves – Right away there a number of caves that we paddle by and if conditions are good, we get to explore inside them!

3) Nesting  Seabirds – The middle island of Anacapa is the largest nesting habitat for brown pelicans and western gulls in North America. During the summer months, we get to watch baby chicks leave their nest and begin to survive without the help of their parents.

4) Bat Ray Cove and Mineshaft Cave: The sandy bottom of the cove here is the perfect place to look for bat rays and other flat-fish. We even see harmless leopard sharks at times when the water is clear and warm. After crossing Bat Ray Cove, we will explore Mineshaft Cave and other caves in this area.

5) East Anacapa Island – After crossing between the east and middle islands of Anacapa we’ll visit Cathedral Cave, a large paddle through cave system.

6) Cathedral Cove – Dramatic rock spires emerge from this picturesque cove. Keep an eye out for pinnipeds!

7) Landing Cove: This is where the only landing on the island is for a ferry from the mainland and other boats to drop off passengers. We don’t have enough time to go ashore, but we’ll have a chance to explore this cove and some nearby caves. Keep an eye out for pinnipeds!

8) Anacapa Arch: Our final paddle through is the iconic Anacapa Arch, a 40-foot high natural rock arch and the symbol of Channel Islands National Park. This is one of the most beautiful & dramatic areas on the islands. Sea lions swim around the lush kelp forest & Anacapa Lighthouse looms in the backdrop. This is where you will have time to enjoy lunch before we head back across the channel to Oxnard.

Enjoy the 1-hour return trip back to the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.  Keep your eyes peeled for sea life along the way.  You can bring adult drinks but they are only to be enjoyed on the return trip home.

Estimated arrival time in Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard is 4:00pm

Destination

Anacapa-island-nps-map

Anacapa is a small volcanic island located 14 miles off the coast of Ventura County. The smallest of the northern Channel Islands, Anacapa was used intermittently by the indigenous Chumash people for thousands of years. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to discover Ancapa in 1542, calling it “Vela Falsa” or false sail. In 1793, Captain George Vancouver christened the island Anacapa, a name derived from the Chumash word, “’Anyapax,” which translates to ‘illusion’ or ‘mirage.’ Anacapa is the only Channel Island to maintain its original Chumash name.  Anacapa’s dramatic sea cliffs are often shrouded by marine haze or fog, giving the island an air of mystery.

Anacapa is composed of three islets: East, Middle, and West. Altogether, the islets make up a narrow island that is 5 miles long and only a ¼ mile wide. Ocean waves have eroded the perimeter of the island, creating steep sea cliffs towering hundreds of feet in height and exposing the volcanic air pockets, lava tubes, and sea caves. At the east end of the island a natural bridge has formed in the ocean. This forty-foot -high arch is a trademark of Anacapa and is the symbol of Channel Islands National Park. The highest peak is on West Anacapa, rising to 930 feet.

Anacapa is composed of three islets: East Island, Middle Island and West Island. Altogether, the islets make up a narrow island that is 5 miles long and only a ¼ mile wide. Ocean waves have eroded the perimeter of the island, creating steep sea cliffs towering hundreds of feet in height and exposing the volcanic origins of air pockets, lava tubes, and sea caves. At the east end of the island a natural bridge has formed in the ocean. The forty-foot-high Cabrillo Arch is a trademark of Anacapa and the Channel Islands National Park. The highest peak is Summit Peak 2 on West Island at 930 feet.

A pelican takes off nearby a kayaker at Anacapa island

Anacapa supports the largest breeding colony of the once-endangered California brown pelican in the United States.

Most of the summer we watch the Pelican’s hatch and grow up at Anacapa Island, eventually leaving the nests in Mid August.

The largest breeding colony of western gulls in the world is also found here. Other sea birds you will see include several species of cormorants, black oystercatchers, and pigeon guillemots. These species come to Anacapa to nest in sea caves and on isolated rocky shores.

Anacapa’s rocky shores also provide resting and breeding areas for both California sea lions and harbor seals, two species you have a high likelihood of encountering while on the water with Channel Islands Expeditions. 

Pre Trip Planning

MAKE SURE YOU BRING (FOOD, WATER, WARM CLOTHING!):

  1. Food. We suggest snacks that travel well kayaking and a picnic style lunch when you return from your kayaking.
  2. Water (reusable water bottles preferred, you can refill them on the boat)
  3. Warm clothing (after kayaking you will want dry clothing to change into) We also suggest bringing extra warm layers for the boat crossing. 
  4. Swimsuit or water activity clothing (to kayak in)
  5. Sun protection (sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.)
  6. Cooler with adult beverages for the ride home 🙂
  7. Camera (waterproof case highly recommended if you wish to bring it on the kayak)
  8. Blankets and towels

Local Restaurants & Lodging

Stay for a seafood dinner or drinks at the Marine Emporium after your trip. There are many restaurants right where the Sunfish picks you up and drops you off , some with harbor views.

Book a weekend visit! Stay at the Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort-only a few minutes drive to the harbor. Right on the beach, this is an excellent place to relax after an adventurous day at Anacapa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need boat transportation?

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

What is the age limit?

The minimum age for this trip is 7 years old. 

All children 12 and under MUST BE with an adult in a tandem kayak.

All children under 12 years old MUST BE with an adult in a tandem kayak. Kids aged 12 to 17 may share a tandem kayak.

Our age limits are for your safety and enjoyment.

Do I need to know how to swim?

You will be wearing a PFD but you need to be comfortable in water over your head. 

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

We have single kayaks for those of you traveling solo or in odd number groups. Because of this, we don’t allow people to reserve single kayaks ahead of time.

How difficult is the kayaking?

Weather depending, the degree of difficulty is typically low, that’s why we allow 7- year old kids to join us on this trip. However, if we encounter substantial winds or swell, the difficulty level can increase. The Sunfish (our adventure support vessel) is always nearby and is able to assist with tired paddlers at any time.

Can we land on Anacapa and hike?

This trip does not include landing or hiking on Anacapa. 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 Anacapa 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!

Do we offer private trips to Anacapa?

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 the CIEx Wild Blue Anacapa Kayaking Trip and the CIEx Painted Cave Kayaking Trips:

  • This trip to Anacapa is shorter and easier. The boat crossing to the island is shorter. The kayaking at Anacapa is typically mellower and better for first time kayak adventurers.
  • There are more arches at Anacapa than at Painted Cave( Santa Cruz Island).
  • The water is typically a bit warmer at Anacapa Island than the north side of Santa Cruz Island, so we don’t provide wetsuits for kayaking at Anacapa.
  • We only provide snacks on this trip. You need to bring your own lunch.

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 accessible, water-level swim steps. 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 less 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!

Can I join this trip if I am camping at Anacapa Island?

Unfortunately no. We cannot pick up or drop off passengers at the Landing Cove at Anacapa. All of our paddlers need to board at Oxnard for the day. The best way to kayak Anacapa Island and see all of the amazing arches and tidepools is to have a support vessel like the Sunfish. We don’t recommend trying this on your own 🙂

Testimonials

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Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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.
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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
Caves and Coves 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