An Excursion to Santa Cruz Island, CA

 This was our second trip out to the Channel Islands.  We went to Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands.  Island Packers runs tours of the islands.  Our trip from the dock at Ventura took about 90 minutes.  We paused to watch a young humpback whale playing in the water.  It rolled and did some tail slaps.  It was exciting.  There were dozens of dolphins around the boat.

The boat docked at Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island.  The island is huge!  It is 24 miles long and has high mountainous ridge running the length.  Our tour departed immediately for a long at the Painted Cavern.  Along the way, we saw harbor seals and rock arches carved by the ocean waves.  The Cavern is the 4th largest sea cave in the world.  It was impressive!  The boat pulled its entire length into the cavern.  The cavern narrows quickly, so only kayaks can proceed much further.

We arrived at the Harbor around 12:30 PM.  There is a hike from the Harbor to Pelican Bay.  This was listed as strenuous, so I decided against it.  We ate lunch on picnic benches.  We walked up a wide trail that goes up to the highest point on the island.  The views were great.  We saw many Santa Cruz jays, a bird species found only on the island.

After three hours on the island, it was time to go.  On the way back, we saw six humpback whales, dozens and dozens of dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and lots of sea birds.  It was the best whale watching experience of my life!  It was impossible to take pictures, because the whales are moving and come up when and where they please.  It was wonderful!

It was a great day!  The island has no food or water, so you have to bring your own.  There isn't much shade, so sunscreen is important.  The small beach is very rocky, so water shoes are helpful.  Island Packers is a great company!  The trip was very well organized.  The boat left on time.  The crew made sure we had a great nature viewing experience!

                                                        Harbor seals

                                                        The Cavern opening is huge!  Hard to capture with a photo
                                                The beach at Prisoners Harbor
                                            A view to the north of the island


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