Santa Cruz Island Sea Caves Kayaking Map

Approximate locations of Sea Caves and cave information




Channel Islands National Park - Santa Cruz Island


Largest of the Channel Islands group is Santa Cruz Island. The 62,000 acre island was once cattle and sheep ranches ownd by the Stanton and Gherini families. The National Park Service bought out the 55,000 acre Stanton Cattle Ranch and the the Gherini 6,000 acre Sheep Ranch land holdings for an addition to the Channel Islands National Park.

The Island is about twenty-one miles long, and averaging five miles in width, this once privately owned island has a long shoreline of about sixty-five miles. Its highest point, near the center of the island, is more than 2,400 feet in elevation, and there are many other peaks reaching a height of over 1,700 feet. Its principal stream valley follows a fault between volcanic and sedimentary rock ridges.

Santa Crus Island has, on the whole, the most varied topography and is the most densely wooded of the California Channel Island group. Its park-like atmosphere makes it highly suitable for camping, hiking, and enjoyment of scenery. The island is famous for its sea caves, with Painted Cave the largest and best known. This cave has an entrance nearly 70 feet high.

Along the shoreline also are many attractive and well-protected caves, with suitable anchorage for small boats. The super clear waters of the sheltered north shore offer opportunity for kayaking, swimming and observation of marine(kelp) gardens.

The island supports a number of rare plant and animal species unique to the California Channel Islands- many of them found only on Santa Cruz. There are extensive groves of the unique island pine, a form not found on the mainland. The marine life around Santa Cruz includes an outstanding display of invertebrates, fishes, and plants.

Sea Cave Kayaking locations -


The above Santa Cruz Island Sea Caves map is made with National Park, NOAA, and USGS data from a earlier NPS contracted survey of the known and unkown sea caves on Santa Cruz Island. The source is from data compiled from the only official survey of the sea caves in 1983. REFERENCES - Bunnell, d. 1983. Sea Caves of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara, California: McNally and Loftin

The littoral caves(water sea caves) may be found in a wide variety of island host rocks, ranging from sedimentary to metamorphic to igneous rock, but caves in the latter tend to be larger due to the greater strength of the host rock.

In order to form a hollowed out sea cave, the host rock must first contain a weak zone. In metamorphic or igneous rocks, this is typically either a fault such as the caves of the Channel Islands in California, or a dike as in large sea caves of Kauai's Na Pali Coast. In sedimentary rocks, this may be a weaker bedding-plane parting or a contact between layers of different hardness. The latter may also occur in igneous rocks, such as in the caves on Santa Cruz Island, California, where waves have worn the contact between the andesitic basalt and the agglomerate.

These sea caves were created by the constant sea wave action and tides. Erosion is ongoing anywhere that waves batter the coasts, but where sea cliffs contain areas of weakness, rock can be removed at a greater rate along these zones. As the sea reaches into the open fissures thus formed, they begin to widen and deepen even more due to the tremendous force exerted within a confined and focused spaces, not only by direct hydraulic action of the surf and any grinding rock particles that it bears, but also by compression of air pressure within. Blowholes (partially submerged caves that eject large sprays of water as waves retreat and allow rapid pushing re-expansion of air compressed within), attest to this process. Adding to the large hydraulic power of the waves is the constant abrasive forces of suspended sand and rock. Most sea-cave walls are irregular and chunky, reflecting an erosional process where the rock is stronger in some spots and fractured piece by piece. However, some caves have portions where the walls are very rounded and smoothed and polished, typically floored with cobbles, and result from the swirling motion of these cobbles in the surf zone acts like a rock polisher.

Sea caves can prove surprisingly complex where numerous fault zones of weakness—often faults—converge. In Catacombs Cave on Anacapa Island, at least six faults intersect. In several caves of the Californian Channel Islands, long fissure passages open up into large vaulted chambers beyond. This is invariably associated with intersection of a secondary fault oriented almost perpendicularly to that along the entrance passage.

For more information on kayaking around the sea caves, contact the National Park Service or one of the many kayak tour companies that are licensed with the National Park Service for the Channel Islands. Also, visit our Anacapa Sea Caves Map at - http://www.cccarto.com/anacapa/index.html
Make sure you visit the National Park site for visitor information and rules on visiting the Channel Islands National Park. http://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/kayaking.htm
map copyright 2012 CCCarto.com


Great reading if you visit Santa Cruz Island and the Channel Islands National Park -
Diary of a Sea Captain's Wife: Tales of Santa Cruz Island - Amazon has this great book

NPS Cave Name data. Cave locations can be off. Use as reference only. Data output and adjusted locations copyrighted by CCCarto




Santa Cruz Island Scorpion Anchorage Reserve in Kayaking and Sea Cave Area
Santa Cruz Island Kayaking Area Reserves


Middle Santa Cruz Island Gulf Island Reserve
Middle Santa Cruz Island Reserves


West Santa Cruz Island Painted Cave Conservation Area
West Santa Cruz Island Reserves


San Miguel Island Reserves
San Miguel Island Reserves


Santa Rosa Island Reserves
Santa Rosa Island Reserves





Data source NPS.