by Angela Rosales
Ever find yourself in a rare magical moment when you know you’re meant to be no other place but right there, in that moment, living life so full you can taste it?
For me, that moment came on the day I willed my shaking water-phobic legs onto a 64-inch catamaran destined for Santa Cruz Island off the coast of Ventura, California. This southern California Island allures sea-cave kayaking enthusiasts year-round with its breathtakingly beautiful volcanic rock caves and natural marine life habitat.
Until this day, I satisfied my curiosity by gazing out towards the island from the safety of the mainland and feasting on the fascinating descriptions of others. Now here I was, bobbing in an ocean kayak, my new husband beside me, and listening to the careful instructions of our guide over the pounding sound off my heart.
Then, we pushed off into the sea and my magical moment hit me. My fear was gone. Just like that. Perhaps it was the bright orange Garibaldi swimming beneath me along the clear ocean floor or the cathedral-like rock formations that jutted from the Island wall that mystified my fears away. All I know is that I kept going, kept sweeping my paddles thru the ocean and was ready to enter my first cave.
Formed by ancient lava flows and the ever constant ocean current, each sea cave was like finding a secret world made of dramatic rock sculptures known only by a privileged few. Some caves with low tides teemed with colorful anemones, algae and starfish. Others sheltered sea-lions on a sea cave beach.
But words and pictures can never do it justice. You must experience it for yourself! It doesn’t take years of training just a little gumption. With the right guidance you can indulge in sea cave kayaking on your first day, whether on Santa Cruz Island or another destination. You’ll discover a whole new world.
Ready to give Sea Cave Kayak Travel a try? Here are a few tips to help plan your trip:
1) Get to know the area and learn the sea cave basics. Sea caves are mostly formed by ocean erosion, which means climate will play a big part in when and where you decide to go. Here are some helpful links to get you started.
2) Go with an experienced guide the first time. Once you decide where to go, most kayak rental agencies will be able to hook you up with an experienced guide to learn:
a. Getting on board
b. Rocking the boat
c. Paddling and steering technique
d.Keeping your balance
e. How to get back on the kayak if you fall out.
3) Always check the weather before you go. Turbulent seas do not make for safe kayaking.
4) Learn the wind patterns of the region. Paddling up wind at the end of the day can be exhausting and dangerous.
5) Dress in layers and wear clothes that wick away water. In some areas, the water is cold year-round and temperature changes throughout the day.
6) Always wear a kayak helmet. A sudden tide in the cave could cause your head to bump against the sharp rocky walls of the cave.
7) Know if food and drinking water will be available. If not, bring water and keep food in a sealed plastic bag (it will get wet).
8) Always wear a life jacket even if you are a good swimmer.
9) Bring sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses to protect you. The water’s reflection intensifies the sun.
10 Before entering each cave, sit and observe the tide from outside. Inside the cave, seemingly docile waters at one minute can suddenly turn to “stormy seas” the next. If the tide seems unpredictable, move on to another cave.
11) Be aware of marine life. The sea caves are often a refuge for sea-lions and other sea life.
12) Bring a waterproof camera to capture your experience of a lifetime!
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Angela Rosales resides in Ventura, California. A human resources professional and stepmom to two teenagers, she loves to travel with her blended family any chance she gets. She’s found that “traveling is a great way for blended families to bond.” When the family is not traveling, they spend their time exploring Ventura like tourists in their own town. Co-creator of the Fun In Venture website, Angela utilizes her website to promote Ventura as a travel destination as well as the historical preservation of Ventura. Besides writing for her website, Angela is also a contributor to local community papers and travel blogs.