Photo by Doug Mangum

Kayaking at Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage is the most popular destination for kayaking.  The sand and cobblestone beach make it easy to get your kayak in the water and the many caves and coves make for great kayaking fun.

Santa Cruz Island, Prisoners Harbor has fewer visitors in general, therefore kayakers can enjoy a  more personal exploration of the caves and coves found in this area of the island.  The sand and cobblestone beach allows for easy entry into the water. At times, the ocean water at Prisoners Harbor can be cloudy, however the coves around this area usually have clear water for wildlife viewing.

Kayaking at Anacapa Island

Anacapa Island is a cliff island and has no beach.  Kayaks are offloaded from the boat to the landing dock.  Kayaks are then lowered to the water by rope and you must go down a ladder to get into the kayak.  When you are finished kayaking, you must pull the kayak back up to the landing dock before the Island Packers boat returns for pick up of passengers and kayaks.  The waters at Anacapa Island are usually crystal clear and you can see down many feet to the ocean life below. The shoreline is pocketed with many sea caves and small secluded beaches. Anacapa Island can have stronger current along it’s shore so kayakers should be moderately experienced at ocean kayaking.

Three Options for Kayaking

There are three options for kayaking adventures in the local islands.  You can go on a guided tour, rent kayaks at Channel Islands Kayak Center or bring your own kayak.  Whatever your choice, you will see the island and the ocean wildlife from a new perspective when paddling a kayak.

Guided kayaking tours are available by contacting Channel Islands Adventure Company. 805-884-9283  Touring kayaks are kept on the island at Scorpion Anchorage so you do not need to reserve transport for kayaks when taking a guided tour.  At the other locations, the outfitter will make all the arrangements for kayak transport.

Kayak rentals are available from Channel Island Kayak Center (805) 984-5995.  Rental kayaks must be arranged at least a day ahead of your departure date.  Kayaks rented from this company will comply with all Island Packers guidelines. There are no kayaks for rent at the island.  You must reserve transport space with Island Packers for rental kayaks.  Space is limited to 18 kayaks a day so be sure you have transport space reserved before reserving the actual kayak.

Personal kayaks may also be transported to the island as long as they meet Island Packers transport guidelines. Personal and rental kayaks must have space reserved for kayak transport.  Kayak space is limited both on the boat and on the island and is first come, first served.  The summer and fall often see many days where all kayak space has been reserved.  You must plan ahead when taking kayaks to the island.  Personal kayaks must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Must have transport space reserved.
  • Must arrive one hour before your departure time.
  • Must have a 6-8 foot bowline with a strong clip on the free end.
  • Must be empty of all gear.
  • Should be plastic Sit on Top type (special approval at time of reservation required for  all other types -wood, composite, peddle etc.).
  • Should be less than 16 Feet in length (special approval at time of reservation needed for over-sized kayaks).
  • Island Packers reserves the right to refuse transport of  late arriving kayaks or kayaks misrepresented at the time the reservation was made.
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Additionally, be sure to consult with the on-island National Park staff upon arrival to the islands and review the kayak guidelines and regulations posted on the park bulletin boards. You should preview this important information on the Kayaking page of the Channel Islands National Park (CINP) website before taking a kayak out to the islands.

Guided Kayaking Tour Outfitters

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Kayak Rentals and Guided Tours

Santa Cruz Island – Prisoners Harbor and Anacapa Island Guided Tours