View all Trips to Santa Cruz Island by Clicking the Months below.
Scorpion Anchorage Closure During Pier Construction
Beginning November 1, 2019, there will be no public access to Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island due to the on construction of a new pier. Construction is expected to take 6-8 months.
Trips to Santa Cruz Island Available during Pier Construction Closure
As you read the boxed information above, you may think that Santa Cruz Island is closed. It is not closed. Only a portion of the island is closed. Prisoners Harbor, one of the prettiest areas on Santa Cruz Island, remains open to the public. Prisoners Harbor offers a wetlands area not available at Scorpion as well as the most beautiful hike on Santa Cruz Island that is open to the public, the Pelican Bay trail. The moderate to strenuous hike takes you through several micro-ecosystems and offers beautiful elevated views of the Santa Cruz Island. A trip to Prisoners Harbor may also offer the opportunity to visit Painted Cave. Click the links below for more information on the destination.
At over 96 square miles in size and the largest island in California, Santa Cruz contains three mountain ranges; the highest peak on the island (rising above 2000 feet); a large central valley/fault system; deep canyons with year round springs and streams; and 77 miles of craggy coastline cliffs, giant sea caves, pristine tide pools and expansive beaches.
These varied land forms support more than 600 plant species in ten different plant communities from marsh and grasslands to chaparral and pine forests. There are 140 land birds and 11 land mammal species; three amphibian and five reptile species; a large colony of nesting sea birds, breeding seals and sea lions and other diverse marine animals and plants.
The island is also rich in cultural history with over 10,000 years of Chumash Indian habitation and over 150 years of European exploration.
Owing to millions of years of isolation many distinctive plants and animal species have adapted to the island’s unique environment, including the island scrub-jay and eight plant species found only on Santa Cruz Island and nowhere else in the world.
December through mid- February, migrating Gray Whales can often be observed from Cavern point on East Santa Cruz or the bluffs of Mid Santa Cruz as the whales pass near the island.
From about February through April the grasslands of Santa Cruz Island are green and native flowers are in bloom. Scorpion Canyon and the Potato Harbor trail are excellent places to see wildflowers. The Prisoners Harbor to Pelican Bay trail has some of the best wildflower displays on the island. Intensity and duration of the bloom differs a bit each year due to varied rainfall and temperature.
You can view the endemic Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay year round: an easy stroll up the dirt road to the old stream bed at Prisoners Harbor or a rugged hike up Scorpion Canyon should provide a viewing opportunity.
In summer through fall, the ocean conditions are usually ideal for kayaking and snorkeling. Endemic island wildflowers including island buckwheat and asters are in bloom.
During summer there is also a chance to see Blue or Humpback Whales in the deep water, during travels to and from Santa Cruz Island.