Our day began on the backside of Santa Cruz Island, where our captain anchored last night to escape the winds and give us all a good night’s sleep. During breakfast, we sailed along the Santa Cruz coast, joined for a few minutes by a friendly pod of bottlenose dolphins. We dropped our anchor at Anacapa Island and spent the day exploring.

Anacapa is named for the Chumash word for mirage, and indeed, this island looks very different depending on your angle. Luckily for us, weather permitted us to not only zoom around the island in Zodiacs but to go ashore and hike the weathered slopes.

Our Zodiacs explored the iconic arch, a highlight of the park, and we enjoyed the amazing wildlife. The cliffs were full of western gulls and brown pelicans, while sea lions frolicked in the giant kelp forest below.

The island looks like a desolate rock from a distance, but we came ashore and found life everywhere. Vibrant Oregon gum plant and endemic island mallow bloomed along the trail, side-blotched lizards soaked in the sun, and some of us even saw a burrowing owl.

We returned to the ship for cocktail hour, where our dive team shared yet another perspective: the kelp forest below the surface of the water. During dinner, we set sail, and tomorrow we will wake up at Catalina Island to enjoy one more day in this special place.