In our previous edition of 90 Minutes of Separation, we shared our dining experience at the Anacapa Brewing Company. The tasty vittles and brew were a fitting leadup to the following day when we were scheduled to board the morning boat for Santa Cruz Islands.
The next morning, the weather broke beautiful and after an hour’s cruise aboard the Island Packers ferry, we arrived at the Scorpion Anchorage on the east side of Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Islands in the Channel chain. It is considered by many to offer the most diverse landscape of the Islands with marshes and grasslands as well as chaparral and pine forests. (Three quarters of Santa Cruz is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the rest by the National Park Service (NPS).)
For visitors who like their islands pristine without the encroachment of concession stands and other civilized amenities (with the exception of toilets), this is the perfect setting to launch a day hike, go snorkeling or kayak the Island’s legendary Scorpion Caves. Visitors should bring enough provisions for the day. While they may also ‘pack in’ their kayaks, the Island Packers ferry has limited space and it is best to reserve in advance. Most kayakers rent theirs from the Island Packers’ concessionary – Channel Island Outfitters. This company rents a wide variety of equipment as well as guide services.
Exploring the Scorpion Caves with outdoor guide and photographer Chuck Graham
We were fortunate to engage the services of one of the Outfitters’ most versatile guides. Chuck Graham not only has an impressive resume that includes kayaking and other water-based sports expertise and outdoor photography skills. He also brings an enthusiasm and deep knowledge of Channel Islands lore to his two-hour guided tour of the Scorpion Caves.
With temperatures reaching 100 degrees we fretted if these near-sauna-like conditions (baking us in our farmer-John style wet suits) would divert our attention from the amazing scenery and ultra-clear water. These worries quickly evaporated as crashing waves met us at the entrance to many of these caves – fresh reminders of the importance of staying alert and the reason for wearing helmets – as we followed Graham in and out of these formations, the largest of these type of caves in the world.
It was tempting to visualize throwing a line in the water to catch the abundance of fish that seemed just a few feet below the surface. Tempting but not possible since the area is within boundaries of the Scorpion Santa Cruz Island Marine Protected Area. Instead we were content to listen to Graham’s recounting of the many kayaking trips he has made within the wider region of the Channel Islands.
In this posting we’ve included a brief slide show of the Scorpion Anchorage. Be sure you don’t leave this page without watching our exclusive video interview with Graham. In it you will get a sense of the scale of this area. More importantly you will also find out how conservation efforts are helping to maintain the unique ecology that makes this part of the Pacific Coast so special.
When you go….
Island Packers Ferry
Channel Island Outfitters
Chuck Graham’s Outdoor Photography
More on the way...In our next segment we share our party boat (fishing) experience when spirits were high, fish were plentiful…and the weather at the Island took a 180 degree turn.
So stay tuned! (Just a reminder: Sign up for our free email alert, (Hit that ‘subscribe’ button above) and you won’t miss another posting).