Like Sea Kayaking? Channel Islands National Park is the Way to Go
The Los Angeles region has many secrets and Channel Islands National Park is one of them. The group of islands off the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara are easily seen from the crowded beaches of Malibu, but most of those beach goers have never been on the other side. And while it is one of the closest National Parks to the millions who live here, it is also one of the less accessible ones. Boats don't run as consistent as the ferry's to Catalina Island and the sometimes the costs (around $50 roundtrip and up, depending on which island you visit) stop many.
If you do make it, you'll be worlds away. The most visited island (also the biggest) in the park is Santa Cruz, which offers hiking, camping, snorkeling, scuba diving and some truly amazing star gazing (yeah, light pollution is not present there). However, if you really want to experience this island, you've got to hit the open ocean on a kayak to explore the caves along the island's sheer cliffs.
Although you can bring your own kayak, various concessionaires bring you the whole package--a boat ride, a tour, the gear and most importantly, training and added safety (waves plus caves plus people has proven deadly for many). A three to four hour tour will cost between $100-$200 (it's on the lower side if you're camping and already arranged for boat transit). Paddle Sports, who we bought a tour with, provided helmets, wet suits, training, lots of interesting nature education and best of all, some great and exhilarating cave experiences. More kayaking concessionaires are listed on the park's website.