The Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary is a natural wonderland and incredibly rich ecosystem located 20 miles offshore of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara Adventure Company leads an exclusive Painted Cave Kayak Day Trip—one of the only such island tours that departs directly from Santa Barbara Harbor’s SEA Landing. The full day trip offered during the summer season includes round-trip transportation to the islands, a guided kayak experience, the opportunity to snorkel and swim in the crystal-clear emerald waters and two meals. The excursion tends to sell out, so advanced booking is highly recommended. Here are five reasons why kayaking Painted Cave should be on your bucket list this summer.
#1: Bragging Rights
Under the guidance of experienced experts and naturalists, you and your loved ones will kayak into one of the largest sea caves in the world. Yes, you got that right—Santa Cruz Island’s Painted Cave has serious planetary credibility. It’s more than a quarter mile long and the entrance is 160 feet.
#2: Jaw-Dropping Natural Beauty
The Channel Islands are a pristine natural environment and the west end of Santa Cruz Island is much less traveled. The snorkeling and SCUBA diving opportunities are considered to be some of the best in the world. You will see an astounding amount of flora, fauna and marine life on land and under water. The vibrant colors in the caves appear otherworldly and the striking hue of the sea looks more tropical than Californian. The highly trained guides will ensure you’re informed of what you’re seeing every step of the way.
#3: Adrenaline Rush
While all ages and skill levels can participate, you’ll definitely get an adrenaline rush entering Painted Cave and swimming through the remote island’s kelp forests—you’re truly out in the wild, after all. As you glide over the ocean ripples, let the sounds of sea lions barking in the distance guide you through this truly massive sea cave. That is, in addition to your trusted guide! Best recommended for intermediate to advanced adventurers, double kayaks are well-suited for those wanting to paddle with a buddy.
#4: Comfort & Convenience
You won’t have to rough it on this adventure. The ferry boat is a 90-minute journey each way from the Santa Barbara Waterfront. Unlike most Channel Islands tours, won’t need to drive to Ventura for departure on this one! Hot showers and bunks allow you to relax on the ride back. Breakfast is served on the boat and a hot lunch is provided out at the islands. All the gear you need is included in the $299/$275 per person trip price—wetsuits, kayaks, life vests, fins, snorkels and masks. Rest assured, you’ll be very well looked after on this 10-hour day at sea.
#5: Five Adventures in One
This is more than just a kayaking adventure. The scenic charter to and from Santa Cruz Island doubles as a whale watching trip, complete with dolphin and sea lion sightings. Once at the island, your group will kayak in and around multiple sea caves including Painted Cave. After that, you can swim and snorkel through kelp forests. Bring an underwater camera to capture the schools of bright orange Garibaldi swimming by. Throughout the trip, the guides provide education on the marine life you’re immersed in—you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve earned a credit for Marine Biology 101.
Ready to book your once-in-a-lifetime island getaway? Visit Santa Barbara Adventure Company for more information and to reserve your spot.