I just returned from an exotic adventure with tropical beaches off the coast of.....Ventura!
The Channel Islands National Park is one of California's best kept secrets. I made my second visit to the series of Islands - this time to beautiful Santa Rosa.
There were only 5 of us on the Island Packers catamaran visiting for a day trip. The ride started off bumpy but after about 30 minutes, I spotted a glimpse of keyhole rock on the Anacapa Island, and our boat slowed down to enjoy the view. A few minutes later, we coasted along Santa Cruz Island, which is 28 miles long with beautiful soaring cliffs. A school of dolphins came out to join us.
We quickly approached a windswept island with translucent turquoise waters, which were filled with kelp. We had arrived!
Once we got on land, we had a briefing with the Park Ranger who encouraged us to take shorter hikes to ensure we would be back for the 3pm departure (otherwise we would have to camp out on the island). We chose the Torrey Pines Trail which is about 6 miles round trip, and meant we had to hustle to get there. Along the way, the entire (I mean entire) island was covered withpurple wildflowers. I have never seen so many wildflowers in my life.
We hiked up a hill covered in Torrey Pines, which are a rare species of pine tree that only grow on Santa Rosa Island and La Jolla in San Diego. Their pine cones are shaped like round bowling balls. Hiking through the pines was refreshing and we could see the entire coast from the top.
The next hike we took was Black Rock, which is a volcanic part of the island. We hiked out to end of the rock which revealed more tropical beaches below. Then we quickly hiked back to the boat and made it just in time for the 3pm departure.
During the boat ride back to the mainland, we were in for another adventure. The boat slowed when we reached Santa Cruz, and the cliffs started looking more eroded. Then I noticed a large opening: a sea cave. Our entire boat entered the sea cave. It was pitch black inside. Every time our boat rocked, the cave made eerie echo sounds. The captain announced that it is one of the largest sea caves in the world at about a quarter mile long.
The boat ride back to the mainland was filled with campers who stayed overnight (apparently this is the more popular way of seeing the island). It felt as though we went to a far away island, even though we weren't far off the coast. The Channel Islands are truly spectacular, filled with unique nature, and amazing adventures.
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