We’re up and out of Carp just after sunrise to catch the hour long ferry from Ventura Harbor to Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park. The 21-mile rough-water crossing (Dramamine saved us) helps explains why this is one of the least-visited national parks in the country—and the absolute best antidote to the crushing thrum of SoCal crowds. There is no development on the island, which is as hilly and green as Ireland, thanks to the El Niño winter. Offshore of Scorpion Cove, the waves are just big enough to make our two-hour guided kayak tour of some of the island sea caves with Santa Barbara Adventure Company feel sporty. Afterwards, we hike the stunning 4.5-mile Scorpion Canyon Loop trail, which climbs the sea bluffs, speckled orange with California poppies, and drops down a switchbacking single track to the walk-in campground, an idyllic spot shaded by mammoth eucalyptus trees. We’re not camping here tonight, but we vow to return.