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Kayak Adventures in Ventura and the Channel Islands

Author: Jill Weinlein
Date of Trip: August 2015

Paddling a kayak is a cool way to explore a beachside community or one of the Channel Islands. It’s different than by bicycle, car, bus, train or by foot, yet similar to a boat.

We enjoy driving to the Ventura Harbor Village, about a one hour north from Los Angeles, just below Carpenteria and Santa Barbara.

During the summer, the Ventura Harbor Village offers free concerts from 1 to 4 p.m. with Steel Drum music on Saturdays and live surf, reggae and rock on Sundays during the months of July and August. The concerts are at the Carousel stage.

If you don’t bring a hat, be sure to buy one at Hats Unlimited. The UV rays are intense near the water.

Ventura Boat Rentals rents single and double kayaks.They offer a map of short routes you can take while cooling down and sitting just above the water. We took one route paddling around a few docks with gorgeous motor and sailboats tied to their slips.

Another fun route was skimming over to the Ventura Keys and paddling by the million dollar homes with their own boat and dock in their backyard. We saw sea lions basking in the sun on piers near the entrance of the boat harbor and the Island Packers boat dock.

Island Packers offers kayak enthusiasts day trips to Anacapa or Santa Cruz Islands with a stack of kayaks in the back of the boat for coastal kayaking along the cave pocketed volcanic cliffs. Many visitors see whales, seals and dolphins on the trip over to the islands. Pelicans soar above, as do a variety of gulls.

Santa Cruz Island is over 96 square miles in size and the largest island in California. Kayak next to craggy coastline cliffs, giant sea caves, pristine tide pools and expansive beaches. A stop at Scorpion Anchorage is the most popular and easiest area for kayaking. The cobblestone beach and sand makes it easy to get your kayak in the water. There are interesting caves and coves to explore. Take a guided tour on touring kayaks that are kept on the island at Scorpion Anchorage. If you want to rent from Channel Island Kayak Center or bring your own kayak, you will need to reserve transport for kayaks.

Another Santa Cruz Island popular destination for kayakers is Prisoners Harbor for its clear water coves to view wildlife.

Since Anacapa Island is a cliff island and doesn’t have a beach, it takes more work to kayak. Beginners may want to go to another island, because the current can be strong along the shore. The kayaks are offloaded to a dock and lowered by rope to the water. Kayakers climb down a ladder to get into the kayak. The waters are usually crystal clear and kayakers can ocean life many feet below. The shoreline is pocketed with many sea caves and small secluded beaches.

If you don’t go on a guided tour, kayak rentals are available from Channel Island Kayak Center (805) 984-5995 and must be arranged at least a day ahead of your departure date. Kayaks rented from this company comply with all Island Packers guidelines.

For those who don’t feel like kayaking in the open sea, Ventura Boat Rentals offers a 40 minute harbor tour and little motor boats to rent and explore the coastline. They also rent Jet Ski rentals with three person Seadoos, 4-person LRVDI and Yamaha VX Deluxes.

Afterward an hour or day of paddling, The Greek at the Harbor is a waterfront Mediterranean Grill and Lounge that serves specialty cocktails, craft beer and wine. Sitting near the window, diners relax while gazing out at the harbor and boats.

The Cold Sampler Mezze plate is filled with a variety of dips that include tzatziki and hummus, plus tabouli, skordalia, melitzanosalata, taramosalata and warm pita bread. It’s perfect for sharing.

The Spanakopita filo pastries are flakey and stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. The Dolmades are moist grape leaves stuffed with beef, rice, herbs and topped with avgolemeno sauce. They also offer fresh fish, salads, burgers and sandwiches and the best vegetarian Moussaka that is layered with eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and topped with a béchamel cream. It’s delicious.

For a great day trip, explore Ventura and the Channel Islands by kayak to cool down, enjoy a variety of wildlife viewing and a little exercise, while building up your arm strength.

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