A whole new world of adventure awaits visitors to the Channel Islands National Park and the water surrounding these islands. Over thousands of years, geological events and the ocean’s unending waves have created many sea caves that are perfect for visitors seeking a touch of adrenaline. A trip through these sea caves, combined with underwater visibility of up to 100 feet, swaying kelp forests, curious and playful sea lions and seals, along with many species of birds (several living only on the Channel Islands) make for an amazing kayaking experience.
There are three options available for kayaking at the Channel Islands National Park.
- Visitors who prefer a guided kayak tour may book a tour with Channel Islands Adventure Company
- Visitors with ocean kayaking experience who wish to explore the islands on their own may choose to rent kayaks from Channel Island Kayak Center. All of these kayaks comply with Island Packers’ guidelines.
- Visitors who own kayaks and have ocean kayaking experience can choose to bring them on their trip. Personal kayaks must comply with Island Packers policies.
All guided kayaking adventures must be booked in advance as space is limited. All transporting of kayaks on Island Packers boats must also be booked in advance because kayak space is limited. .
Each of the islands of the Channel Islands National Park is a wilderness area. All water, food, and snacks must be brought with you to the island you visit – and any trash and containers brought onto the island must be taken home with you.
For the ultimate in stress-free island dining, contact Channel Islands Provisioners to order prepacked meals for your trip! Whether you are spending the day or camping on one of the islands – Channel Islands Provisioners provides quality artisanal, locally-sourced foods, delivered directly to Island Packers’ boat dock. Orders must be placed at least 3 days in advance, by calling them or on their website.
The most convenient (and safest) option for visitors wishing to explore the crystal-clear waters of Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary by kayak is an all-inclusive guided tour with Channel Islands Adventure Company. Here’s what you can expect on a CIAC kayak tour:
After a short boat ride from Ventura Harbor on a comfortable Island Packers boat, paddlers arrive at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island, and meet their kayak guides at Channel Islands Adventure Company’s base near the boat landing. Channel Islands Adventure Company guides provide each paddler with a wetsuit (sized according to information provided during the reservation process), safety helmet, personal floatation device, and booties, before kayaking. Guides also provide a brief demonstration of basic kayaking skills for a safe adventure. Belongings may be stored in Channel Islands Adventure Company’s storage lockers for safekeeping from curious island foxes and ravens. Paddlers can help the group begin kayaking sooner by using restrooms aboard the Island Packers boat 15 minutes before landing at Santa Cruz Island, and wearing a bathing suit under their clothes to ease changing into a wetsuit.
Once everyone is suited up, it’s time to explore the kelp forests and sea caves near Scorpion Anchorage. In addition to being skilled kayak paddlers, Channel Islands Adventure Company guides are trained naturalists, and often spot wildlife, unique plant species, and rock formations to ensure paddlers get the most from their trip. They also share fun facts about the island’s geology, ecosystem, and cultural history -when they’re not guiding paddlers through the sea caves and arches. Entering the sea caves is optional and subject to marine conditions. Entering the sea caves is optional (“challenge by choice”). For those who choose not to enter the caves, crystal clear waters with up to 100 foot visibility and flowing kelp forests will entertain.
After kayaking, those who want an even closer look at the park’s underwater world are welcome to stay in their wetsuits and add snorkeling gear. Snorkelers often see various species of fish, urchins, octopus, and other wildlife near Scorpion Anchorage beach. Others may choose to explore hiking trails in this part of the island before their return trip to Ventura. Cavern Point is an especially scenic 45-minute loop that provides spectacular views of sea cliffs, Anacapa Island, the mainland, many seabirds, and–occasionally–whales. This one-mile hike has a small ascent to the bluff and remains relatively flat once hikers reach the top.
Bring a camera to snap memorable moments during your island adventure. However, only waterproof cameras will be allowed on kayaking tours.