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“Blue Skies, Blue Water, and Great Paddling at Santa Cruz Island”

Aquasports Sea Cave Kayaking Trips
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Aquasports has been leading guided sea kayaking trips along the Santa Barbara coastline, and within the Channel Islands National Park, for the past 25 years. Adventure travel seekers will find that most trips are designed to be low rigor but high adventure, captivating both novices and experts alike. A fun, introductory kayaking lesson is included with all trips. No prior kayaking experience or special athletic ability is required for most of our trips.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed October 10, 2012

My family and I just returned from a one day kayaking trip to Santa Cruz Island, about 20 miles off Ventura. We went in mid-October and the weather was perfect - sunny and warm, with a slight breeze to keep it from being too hot. The water was very calm, warm, and crystal clear. When we arrivied at the ferry dock we could see long strands of kelp coming up to the surface. Our guide, Andy, was incredible. He was very easy going and immediately took off any "pressure"about kayaking we may have had. He said our group could go as easy or as hard as we liked. We had a group of seven - my two kids were in one kayak, my wife and I in another, a father and daughter in a third, and a woman in a single kayak.

Andy briefed us on the island, basic kayaking skills, and what we would be doing. He then helped us push off the rocky beach and head out. We went through several sea caves. There is no way I would go into any of them without a guide - you wouldn't know which way to turn inside the cave, how big it was, or whether there was breaking surf inside. Andy usually led the way in and then waited for each of us to come in, constantly encouraging us about how well we were doing (I guess that meant we hadn't flipped the kayaks). There were gentle swells inside the caves, but no breaking surf, and we all felt confident in going into the caves.

Andy gave us plenty of time to float outside the caves, rest, and enjoy the warm sunshine before going to the next group of caves. Most of the caves we had entered before had two openings, so that you could paddle in one side and, after a little darkness, paddle out the other side. We wore helmets because there were some low passages where we had to lean back to avoid the over-hanging rock. Toward the end of the two and a half hour trip we paddled upwind, through 1 -2 foot swells, for a few minutes to get to the largest cave. We went back in about 300 feet ( I think), through a few tight openings, and ended up in an area that was only lit by the light that Andy had on his helmet. I was quite an experience. We then turned our kayaks around, left the cave, and paddled with the wind back to the beach. Andy then helped each of us exit our kayak.

Andy loaned my a shortie wetsuit and mask and snorkel. I swam around for a while in what was some of the clearest water I have ever seen in my life. After that we changed into our regular clothes and got back to the ferry in plenty of time. On the way back, the ferry stopped for about 15 minutes to allow us all to witness a feeding frenzy like I had never seen. It involved hundreds of birds, at least three whales, a lot of dolphin, and many sea lions, all aparently going after anchovy or other small fish or shrmip.

It was an exceptional experience and Andy did a superb job in every aspect of the trip. I think the weather in October is probably the best of the year. Santa Cruz Island, like the rest of the Channel Islands, have no stores or facilities other than pit toilets and a campground that does have water. If Catalina is the "party" island, then Santa Cruz is the "quiet" island. I'm hoping to visit some of the other Channel Islands in the future. My wife, kids, and I highly recommend this trip - and Andy.

3  Thank Reviewertoday1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (23)
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20 - 23 of 23 reviews

Reviewed December 12, 2011

I have wanted to explore the sea caves on Santa Cruz for awhile & decided since I am a novice kayaker I needed an experienced guide. Aquasports was recommended by my favorite TV show "Motion" so I gave them a call. My nephew accompanied me on my birthday weekend & we chose a 3 day paddle with camping. Aquasports supplies all the gear needed to kayak & specializes in teaching first-timers. First day out was a little bit rough but we managed to enter several caves~ AWESOME! Day 2 was a smaller group & really high seas but we made it to Potato Harbor for a picnic. Couldn't believe I was able to paddle through 12-15 foot seas with the help of my nephew & our guides!! Day 3 was even wilder so we did a wonderful island hike. I highly recommend Aquasports to anyone who wants to have a great ocean paddle.

3  Thank KBall62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2011

I'm so glad we did this trip! Our family of 4 signed up for the one day sea kayaking adventure at Santa Cruz island. We are all in reasonably good shape with little or no previous kayaking experience. We made the arrangements a few days in advance and were lucky to have ideal weather - warm, no wind, and calm seas. First, a nice boat ride over with Island Packers. My son has some history of motion sickness but had no problem with this boat ride, probably because of the calm seas that day. Then, our guide, Andy, gave us a brief intro on kayaking and soon we were in the kayaks and out on the water. We kayaked through a number of sea caves which were just as cool as I'd hoped. Also saw a blow hole which was really cool as well. The water was really clear and beautiful. There were many harbor seals swimming quite close to us, also saw pelicans and cormorants. Andy did a great job and I have to say we all loved the experience! After about 3 hours of kayaking, we had lunch and went for a short hike up the cliffs. The island itself was green and beautiful and we saw lots of island foxes, which are about half the size of regular faxes and so cute. Then it was time for the boat ride bak to Ventura.
This was a great day and well worth the money for a cool adventure.

5  Thank citgal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 14, 2010

The boat ride over to Santa Cruz Island was a bit choppy in the morning, but once we arrived, the weather developed into a perfect day. This was my first experience ocean kayaking and it was quite memorable. There are many caves on the island that the guides carefully lead us through. I’m not in great shape, but was able to handle the level of exertion easily. The guides were exceptional: knowledgeable, kind and humorous--and always concerned about our safety. We spent about three hours kayaking and then had time to eat the lunch we brought. There was time afterwards to relax or hike before returning to the mainland. I visited a small museum on the island that was interesting.

On the boat ride back, we were escorted by a pod of dolphins. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life—hundreds of dolphins swimming alongside the boat escorting us to shore! Amazing. I think this was my favorite part of the day.

I highly recommend this day trip. It was fascinating to see the islands, the caves, and the sea life. Dealing with Aquasports was extremely easy. They are very helpful and really excel at providing a great experience.

4  Thank synthesis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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