Saturday, June 8, 2013

our anniversary trip!

The Husband and I celebrated one wonderful year of marriage with a day trip out to Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Island has an amazing history. The Channel Islands have never been attached to the mainland, so there are many native species found nowhere else in the world. Santa Cruz had also been used for ranching, sheep raising, grape growing, and a ton of other functions in the 1800 - 1900s, before the island was purchased by the NPS. It is currently being restored to its original / native state.

The Husband and I took a boat out from Ventura Harbor in the morning, run by an awesome company called Island Packers. It is not a pleasure cruise. That boat goes really fast!


After getting to the island, a park ranger gave us the scoop (take your trash with you, don't leave food out for the foxes, don't be an idiot, etc.) and let us go out and adventure. You can also camp out there.

There are a lot of hikes, from an easy 2.5 mile one to a pretty grueling 15 mile one. We chose to do a couple of the shorter hikes, since we didn't want to miss the boat back to the mainland in the afternoon. We were able to do about 10 miles with plenty of time to spare for lunch and some downtime before the boat.

Besides the amazing views, there is a lot of history to explore on the island. Since it was used as a rancho during the 1800s and early 1900s, there are lots of artifacts to check out and learn about. They even have log books from the 1800s on display.

Channel Islands Outfitters also offers kayaking trips (and if you've never kayaked - try it. It is surprisingly easy and a ton of fun). Coincidentally, we ran into a friend who does kayak tours when we were out there! He offered to take us on a half day kayak trip, but unfortunately we couldn't take a later boat back and make the trip. Next time!

We had an amazing time exploring the island. We even saw an Island Fox (one of the species unique to the CIs) trot by with eggs it had raided from a bird's nest. I so regret not whipping my camera out fast enough to catch that one.

(though I did catch this guy raiding a campground food stash)

On the boat ride back, we saw one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. Do you remember the footage in Planet Earth with the dolphin superpod feeding frenzy? We saw that happen right in front of us. The staff on the boat estimated there were about 700 dolphins in front of us. The water was churning with dolphins as far as the eye could see, fish were jumping out of the water, birds wheeling above and was amazing. This video is a pretty accurate representation of what we saw. I was too busy trying not to lose my lunch to get a video of what we saw.

I cannot think of a better way to spend our anniversary, and certainly can't imagine a better person to explore this beautiful place with. 

PS. In a future post, I'll cover some tips and advice for preparing for and making the most of a trip to the island. Stay tuned.

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