High swells prevented landing on Anacapa Island this morning, so we anchored off the protected side and enjoyed extended Zodiac cruising through intermittent misty fog. We saw (and heard) many sea lions on the beaches and watched the young ones perform ‘investigative circling’ around the Zodiacs. A pair of harbor seals swam in the kelp canopy and the skies were filled with soaring pelicans and western gulls. We also learned about the giant kelp, and many sampled a piece, generally conceding that it was ‘salty bland’.

During brunch, we traveled across gently rolling seas to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, passing through a large pod of long-beaked dolphins. Some peeled off to ride our bow wave, gracefully rolling and looking up at us while we looked down on them. Afternoon activities consisted of three varieties of hikes, each offering sightings of the endemic island scrub jay and the lovable island fox. Heavy rains during the previous winter created a ’50 Shades of Green’ scene, punctuated with colors of many different flowers. Cloudless skies added to the overall magic.

After a final dinner and introduction of the hotel staff, we watched the traditional guest slideshow, reliving precious memories.