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“best time ever on Santa Cruz Island” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island
Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands National Park, CA
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Activities: Kayaking, Camping
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Attraction details
Owner description: Located off the coast of Santa Barbara, this island is a popular place for kayaking and exploring sea caves.
Orange County
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“best time ever on Santa Cruz Island”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2009

My husband and I went camping with a couple other people from my hiking group last year. I had the best time ever! For those who get sea sick like me, take bonamine or a pill of choice way ahead of time. I took it too late. The trip was worth the pain tho. Saw dolpins on our way there. And way more - at least 100 when we went to Santa Rosa late last month. The Santa Rosa trip first stops at Santa Cruz.

The coastal views and peace and quiet during the hike were priceless! Research the smugglers cove hike on Santa Cruz and Cherry Canyon on Santa Rosa. We are hooked on the Channel Islands and are going to Anacapa next. Book with Island Packers. They are a good bunch. They have a professional and caring crew. I know first hand coz I got sea sick both trips! The trick I've learned from passengers and the crew is good old ginger ale and to try to stare at the horizon. These helped me some. I heard that you can fly to Santa Rosa. Something worth looking into. Happy hikes!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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117 reviews from our community

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English first
Long Beach, CA
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“A place to forget everything!!!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2009

This is an amazing day trip away from LA. A great place to just hike and forget everything. I used Island Packers and it was a great ride. Bring a hat and lots of sunscreen.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
105 helpful votes 105 helpful votes
“Awesome Coastal Hiking”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2008

Took a trip to East Santa Cruz with Island Packers. The crew was fun and light hearted. Saw more than 100 dolphins on the way there. Unbelievable! The trails are moderately difficult with great coastal cliff views. Next time I will take my snorkling gear as I could see a great kelp forest right there at the boat landing that was shallow (10ft). I could see dozens of purple urchins underwater from the pier.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
88 helpful votes 88 helpful votes
“Don't miss out the kayaking trip”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2008

We spent two days at Santa Cruz. The trip started well. We found a group of dolphins, and these guys really know how to put up a show. The boat captain spent some time circling around them so that everybody could have a good look.

The first day we went kayaking with Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara. It was very interesting. You must remember these islands are about sea life. This was the beginners' trip, so we did not go far from the harbor. The guides were helpful and they provided all necessary equipment, including wet suits -very important. We went to see five or six caves.

On land, we found wind which drove us crazy. Nonstop. It was annoying, and it drove sand into our tent. It seems such wind is not uncommon, but really we were not lucky.

There was a very pretty sunset from Cove Point, very close to the campground. But nobody else was watching it.

We hiked out to Potato Harbor -which is fairly close- and Smuggler's cove- further out. The island was pretty, in a desolate kind of way. The grass was yellow, and there are almost no trees. We were lucky to see one of the rare native foxes.

On the way back, we saw more dolphins.

It was a very enjoyable trip, except for the wind. But definitely, don't miss out the kayak if you go.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
165 helpful votes 165 helpful votes
“Wow! Can't wait to go back and do some more kayaking!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2008

We (four adults 35-50 years old) just got back from a fantastic overnight stay on Santa Cruz Island / Channel Islands. Before we left, I had some trouble finding information so I wanted to get on here and give some info out for the next folks.

First we arranged our camping spot thru parks and recreation. We chose spot 25 on the upper loop. All spots are within 30-75 feet of one another, so seclusion is not an option. Second, we arranged our boat tickets and kayak transportation thru Island Packers to Scorpion Anchorage. Third, we rented our kayaks thru Channel Island Kayak Center. All this came to about $150 pp. You pay the day of departure.

We arrived at the Ventura Harbor on Saturday morning right at 7am, where we checked in with the boat company, then the kayak company next door, had a brief orientation. We finished our coffee on the grass next to our packs and waited for them to instruct us to load or packs up to the boat, separating our fuel (for gas stove) and water from everything. We boarded the boat at 7:45 and by 8am we were on our way out of the harbor. We were on the boat with the Tokyo Hiking Group in their 50-60s, about 40 adults. One lady in particular stood out in the Group in her leopard patterned leisure suit, her sparkly black vest, her designer matching hat, her designer gold sunglasses, and full makeup complete with bright red lipstick. We deemed her 'Leopard Lady'.

Our one hour boat trip to the island was awesome. We inside at a table, enjoyed our breakfast burritos that we brought with us, and watched the seal and the dolphin display! The sell soft drinks, beer, wine donuts and potato chips on the boat.

When we docked at Scorpion Anchorage, most of the passengers formed a line, where we passed all items person to person from the boat down the line, up the dock and onto the path. Some passengers just stood by, waiting for their bags to arrive...possibly a language barrier...or just lazy...not sure?

After a brief orientation from the forest ranger we hiked into our spot which was about 1 mile (because we chose the spot the furthest away). The lower loop is only about a 1/2 mile walk. Keep in mind that whatever you bring, you will be hiking in...So pack smart, and if you can, put EVERYTHING into a pack to go on your back. We passed suitcases, coolers, lawn chairs, small bags etc., which I image was not easy to bring up the trail in the morning sun.

We assembled our tents, enjoyed the subway sandwiches that we brought (each campsite has a picnic table, benches and lockbox for food and trash to keep away from the animals), and headed to the beach to do some kayaking. It was a gorgeous day, calm water. The couple that we went with had done the tour on their last visit, so they were familiar with the caves and the coastline. The seals were curious and playful. The starfish on the rocks were beautiful and it was refreshing to see all of the healthy kelp. The water was so clear your could easily see the California Garibaldi’s feeding on the kelp (next time we are bringing our snorkels FOR SURE!). The caves were great (even spooky at times), and I was happy that I wore gloves, and croakies on my sunglasses.

It felt like we were a world away from LA.

After several hours on the water, we headed back to Scorpion Anchorage to beach our kayaks and go back up to our camp spot (you have to bring your paddles, seats, life jackets and helmets back to camp with you). We relaxed at our table with a cup of boxed wine (no glass or cardboard on the island), enjoyed some cheese and bread, THAT’s when the entertainment began. The Tokyo Hiking Group from the boat had the ‘group’ campsites next to us. 'Leopard Lady' began to yell…which lasted for aprox 2 minutes, (in another language), THEN she began punching and kicking a man...he began to punch and kick back, until the ranger (a woman about 5'3 and 120lbs) stepped in. The others in the group did not seem too concerned, but eventually a couple men from the group stepped in too (that poor ranger...geez). Leopard Lady (LL.) began to wale...then retreated to her 'den' (a green and white tent). We later learned from the ranger that the fight was due to the fact that LL wanted to hike and her husband wanted to drink beer. As the night wore on, the group got increasingly louder, playing music, chanting, playing instruments, loud yelling and screaming over card/domino games. We were tuckered from the long, exhausting day, so after heating up some chili (on our camp-stove) for dinner we retired to bed around 9pm (no campfires on the island). But the group was so loud that some of us were unable to sleep…In fact one guy had put his ipod in his ears and could not hear his music over the group next door. He eventually went over there and asked them to quiet down.

It did not get too cold at night, as I was in a pair of yoga pants and long sleeve shirt and stayed perfectly comfortable on top of my sleeping bag.

On Sunday, we made some instant coffee, juice and bagels, packed up our gear and took it down to the dock. We headed in the other direction for an hour long kayak thru the caves. The rule of thumb is not to travel downwind (with the wind) as you will have to return in the headwind (when you are tired)….better to have the wind at your back on the RETURN.

As scheduled, the boat arrived at 11am, we set up another baggage brigade to get all of the supplies and baggage on board…we were relieved that the Tokyo Hiking Club was not on this boat ride.

The hour ride back was quiet. We ran upon a school of dolphins, and saw some more seals.

Next time I go, I’ll camp in the lower loop and I will leave on a Friday and come back on a Sunday…one night was not enough time to do all of the kayaking that I wish we would have.

There is potable running water, and ‘hole-in-the-ground’ bathrooms, that were clean, with hand sanitizer.

Can’t wait to go back!

Was this review helpful? Yes 30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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