Kayaking and Snorkeling in Channel Islands National Park

Are you up to spending a day/night on an island (close to California) that is free from resorts, hotels, and restaurants? Sounds intriguing? Channel islands is that non-commercialised place where you can enjoy the serenity of nature and have fun kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and diving.


Located very close to the Californian coast, Channel islands is a group of eights islands (five of the islands are part of the Channel islands national park) renowned for its large concentration of sea caves. It’s a great place to camp, hike, kayak–surrounded by pristine beauty.


We spent a beautiful day on Santa Cruz island, largest of the five islands in the Channel islands national park–snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking. The highlight being kayaking in the ocean among Kelps, checking out small sea caves and curious Harbor seals.

Quick question – Do you know how to quickly distinguish a seal from a sea lion?
Sea lions have visible ear flaps whereas seals just have ear holes, no flaps. Well, California sea lions are also distinguishable with their noisy barking.

Getting here

The only transportation to the island is by Island Packers from Ventura or Truth Aquatics from Santa Barbara. We stayed overnight at Ventura and did a guided snorkelling and kayaking trip with Channel Outfitters. Thanks to them, this is the first time we have our pictures taken while kayaking; hence, I’m all grinning.

Snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking

Snorkeling can be a bit tricky with all the Kelps around. Also, we did not see a lot of aquatic life. So in my opinion, it would be better to do a kayaking trip rather than combining it with snorkeling, that way, you get to explore farther sea caves.

Painted cave which is one of the largest sea caves in the world is on Santa Cruz island and can be visited while on a trip to the farther islands, on a wildlife cruise with Island Packers, or can be explored on a kayaking trip. Yes, Blue Whales visit the farther islands for feeding between June and September!

I hiked the Cavern point loop to enjoy spectacular ocean views.
Another cool thing here–the endemic island fox. Though much smaller in size than its mainland cousin, it was exciting to see a fox up close. Brazen and bold, this one was looking for unattended human-food, and roaming around the picnic tables.

Other places nearby

While in Santa Barbara or Ventura there is a small city which you shouldn’t miss; a place that is quite touristy but a pretty semblance of Denmark in California – Solvang.
Just outside the town is an ostrich farm. Yes, Ostriches and Emus roam in a large farm in California!
Good place to see these large, flightless, native African and Australian birds up close. Oh, Ostriches have such beautiful eyes!

Leave a Reply