What an incredible start to this southern migration aboard National Geographic Venture! We began our day dark and early as the sun rose over the Santa Barbara Channel and Santa Rosa Island, the first stop on our journey along the Pacific Coast of the “peninsulatimate Californias.”

Intrepid Torrey pine enthusiasts departed with breakfast burritos in-belly to tackle a steep ridge hike to a stunning grove of these critically endangered and rare-to-the-world conifers, while others adventured after a little bit more sleep along the beautiful back canyons and bountiful bluffs overlooking this captivating corner of Channel Islands National Park. Western meadowlarks, shrikes, and endemic island foxes greeted us trailside, while harbors seals, scoters, and loons looked on lazily from the kelp beds.

We pulled anchor over lunch and sailed past Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands, learning as we went from our National Geographic Expert Jonathan Giddens. Our photography instruction was interrupted repeatedly by bow-riding pods of common and bottlenose dolphins. A sunset green flash and a delicious dinner sent us on our way to learn about the Chumash’s Rainbow Bridge from Naturalist Kimberly. Our eyes and hearts were full of memories. Next stop, we “Venture” to Ensenada—¡Vamos!