3 Reasons to Visit the largest island in America’s “Galapagos”

Summer is coming! Although “Game of Thrones” is just around the corner, I have a lot more to be excited about this summer. After 12 years of working in corporate America, I’m taking my first true break… a 10 week sabbatical! Naturally, my friends have started to ask me what my plans are… to be honest I’m not totally sure yet (other than learn photography with my new Sony A6300), but when the opportunity arose to join the next Shoestring Adventure to Santa Cruz Island, I started planning my escape.

 “Something in our salty blood draws us to the sea; something in our imagination beckons us to the islands…” ~ Susan Lamb, Author.

I had actually never heard of Santa Cruz Island, but visiting this part of the Channel Islands has always been on my bucket list ever since I was certified in open water diving. Did you know when you scuba dive with the seals up there they like to mimic your movements? The abundance of sea life was more than enough to entice me but looking more into what awaits us on this adventure, I still can’t believe I haven’t made it there sooner. Check out this overview video from National Parks. Here is a quick overview of what I’m looking forward to most on this adventure:


Known as “America’s Galapagos”, the Channel Islands are home to many species of wildlife not found anywhere else in the world including the Santa Cruz Island scrub jay and the Santa Cruz Island Fox, which was just removed from the endangered species list last year thanks to the efforts of the Channel Islands National Park.  One of those efforts was reintroducing Bald Eagles back into the environment 10 years ago! It’s quite amazing to see what has been accomplished through the Santa Cruz Island restoration program.

Doodle of Island Fox by Shani Leead


Home to one of the world’s deepest sea caves – plunging nearly a quarter mile long! Capt. Dan Ryder provides an amazing overview of this here – Santa Cruz Island provides a wide array of stunning lookout points, hidden treasures and amazing photography opportunities. Just check out some of these gorgeous shots featured on Trip Advisor! I seriously can’t wait to test out my new camera while out on the hiking trails.

Doodle of Bald Eagle by Shani Leead


After being “chained” to a desk for the last 12 years, I’m excited to really be “free” for once. I’ve been to South Africa, India and numerous part of Asia, but never truly escaped from the hustle and bustle of life. I never would have guessed that a true escape could be just an hour away from Los Angeles.  Harsh and lonely… without any access to services, these isolated islands have attracted people for over 13,000 years and some of the oldest human remains known in North America have been found here! The exclusivity and rich history truly make this area a true “Treasure in the Sea.

Doodle of Endangered Blue Whale by Shani Leead

Of course once on the island there are many activities to do, including Kayaking, Hiking and Whale Watching (yes, it will be whale watching season when Shoestring Adventures goes in June)! Check out this overview of top activities from Kristen at Bearfoot Theory. As a runner, I was also delighted to find an awesome and exclusive race to add to my bucket list, Santa Cruz Island Eco-Extreme Trail Half Marathon in November.

For now, I’ll continue to plan my first escape to the Channel Islands with Shoestring Adventures and learn some photography basics at the “Take Only Memories” class @matty_westside at The Frog Spot on June 11th from 2-5pm, but I can’t wait to find out what else awaits me on this magical Island.

Hope you can join me on this amazing adventure and the first leg of my sabbatical!

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