By Linda Ballou, NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate

About an hour north of Los Angeles a spectacular day trip to the Island of Santa Cruz awaits you.

Turn up at the Island Packer dock in Ventura Harbor about 9 AM with a lunch in your backpack and leave your worries behind.

After an hour-long cruise across the channel, passengers are dropped off at Scorpion Anchorage and admonished to be back by 4 PM, or plan on spending the night on the island. Some choose to do exactly that, but most fan out on separate day hikes.

Santa Cruz, the largest of all the Channel Islands, offers the most varied hiking and opportunity for self-exploration. The stiff hike up to Cavern Point overlooking Scorpion Anchorage takes you to the shadeless North Bluff Trail.

This easy march traces the bluffs and calls for binoculars for spotting birds in the meadow and marine life in the vast expanse of blue spread out before you. Far below, kelp forests sway in aquamarine waters where golden Garibaldi and sea lions play. The trail ends at the turquoise horseshoe bay called Potato Harbor that is a perfect spot for your picnic.

No humans, save national park rangers, live on the island today. But, for thousands of years this was the domain of the Chumash Indians. Legend has it that the “people” sprouted here from seeds and became so numerous that Hutash, the earth, created a Rainbow bridge for them to go to the mainland. While crossing, many of the people tumbled into the sea and became playful dolphins.

It is tempting to believe that the pod of 1,500 dolphin that leap madly about the Island Packer boat on this journey are enlivened by the spirits of the people. Gray whales migrating through the channel on the way to and from their breeding grounds in Baja are often seen on the crossing to the mainland. The skipper often takes time to follow them, even if you are not on a whale watch cruise.

Wrap up this day with the seafood sampler at Brophy Brothers’ upstairs glass-enclosed patio overlooking the yachts tied up in Ventura Harbor. The best viewing of the sunset is on the beach on the other side of the harbor parking lot.

The surf is a bit rough for swimming, but you can take a nice long stroll on a less-traveled stretch of sand where you will meet lots of shorebirds.

There is much more to learn about the Channel Island National Park and the Island Packer offerings on their website. 

IF YOU GO:

Be sure to make reservations in advance!

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales; historical novel, Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i; as well as her latest novel, The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon. Find more information about Linda at: www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.

Linda's mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as I can, before they are no more. Travel tales relating my experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. I had a great deal of fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people I have met in “naturally high places” for my newest book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales.