*Last updated on December 14th, 2017 at 12:50 pm
This post contains affiliate links.
We are back from a great long weekend in the Santa Barbara area and our trip to the Channel Island, Santa Cruz Island, was a definite highlight. You can check out my earlier post to see why we chose Santa Cruz Island, but primarily it was the shortest boat ride!
We started the morning running late to catch our boat. Island Packers ask you to arrive 45 minutes early and we rolled into the parking lot 15 minutes before departure. Chris and HJ hopped out and got our tickets while K and I parked. We all managed to board at the last possible minute.
Once we were all aboard we settled in for a 1-hour ride with calm seas. Unfortunately, we don’t have the strongest stomachs and about 45 minutes in K took the opportunity to puke all over Chris. Oops.
Chris and I were really impressed with the staff and fellow passengers who all stepped in to help. Some strangers held HJ while we cleaned up and a staff member held our wet bag open while I slowly peeled clothes off K and Chris. K got a whole new change of clothes, but Chris ended up having to wear his windbreaker all day since we didn’t have an extra shirt for him.
Stomachs settled down quickly once we reached Scorpion Anchorage and lined up for island orientation. The park ranger filled us in on the rules (everything is protected and trash has to be packed out) and on the wildlife we might see on the island. He guaranteed sightings of the island fox and we had our first sighting only minutes later!
We joined a guided hike to Cavern Point which took us through the campground where we saw 5 more foxes! The guide started with a historic ranch where ranchers raised sheep from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. The kids were hungry at this point so we started to lag behind the group, but we tried to catch up at each stop. The guide was full of information on the flora, fauna, and history of the island.
The Santa Cruz Island foxes are thought to have originally floated to the island on debris and then developed into the small modern fox we saw. Due to the isolation of the islands, each Channel Island has its own variation of the fox.
The views at Cavern Point were incredible and we sat down for a picnic after the tour was complete. The ranger had warned us to be careful of food around the foxes and crows, so HJ and K took turns chasing the crows away.
We still had several hours to fill so we set off hiking to Potato Harbor. We didn’t have time to spare so we loaded the kids in the carriers. The path was tightly squeezed by wildflowers at points and the views along the ridge were terrific.
There weren’t many other people on the path but we did see another fox walking along the path.
I thought Potato Harbor couldn’t be better than the views on the way there, but it was something special! We did not see any sea lions, but they were down there somewhere barking loudly.
We returned via Potato Harbor road back and passed both the upper and lower campgrounds. The views of the island interior were different but still beautiful. A rescue helicopter landed on the island on our trip back. We were able to watch the descent but couldn’t see the actual landing from where we were.
All in all, we hiked 5 miles and arrived back at Scorpion Anchorage just in time for a short rest. For the kids, rest means climbing on rocks!
The return trip was smoother and Chris and K even got a brief glimpse of a whale!
All in all in was a great trip! I asked Chris when was the last time he had a wonderful day and got puked on. He thinks it was a first.
If you want to visit Santa Cruz Island you can take a day trip with Island Packers or camp for a few days. If you plan to camp, make sure you make reservations with the National Park Service and Island Packers.