Santa Cruz Island

Island Activities

In its vastness and variety of flora, fauna, and geology, Santa Cruz Island resembles a miniature California. At over 96 square miles in size, Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel islands, and the largest island in California. It is owned and managed by the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy, which have made great efforts to preserve and protect these island resources. Outcomes of such efforts include the stabilization of cultural sites, rehabilitation of historic buildings, removal of nonnative plants and animals, the recovery island foxes, reestablishment of bald eagles, and restoration of island wetlands. All of these efforts have made Santa Cruz Island one of the best places to experience the natural and cultural heritage of coastal southern California.


The first day the students will be dropped off at the UC landing site or state park campground where their luggage is transported to the campsite. In trail groups they will then spend the day exploring the deserted shore and hiking to the site, giving them a sense of remoteness as well as an extensive view of the island.  While natural history and outdoor science will be the emphasis of this hike, teambuilding will be incorporated. Once they arrive at the campsite, they will set up camp and prepare for dinner.

The next few days will be spent exploring the interior of the island learning about the flora, fauna, geology, and riparian ecology. In their trail groups and in rotations, students will have a hands on look at the formation of the Channel Islands and their diversity.

Students will learn the basics of sea kayaking and snorkeling in and around the caves and rocks just off shore exploring the rich life of the ocean surrounding Santa Cruz Island.  Seals often come up to the students' boats while beautiful fish, urchins, and crabs show off their colors and grace from under the surface.

Island Activities

Sea Kayaking

WOLF leaders and ocean specialists guide the group on sea kayak explorations of the island coastline and sea caves.


Students work from field journals filled with science information where they record their findings and experiences. The students take the journals home as a keepsake and reminder of the things they have learned on their trip.

Primitive Skills

WOLF naturalists demonstrate native cultural skills such as fire building, food preparation, primitive weaponry, and crafted tools. Students make friction fires, grind and cook corn cakes, throw tomahawks, make and shoot arrows, and fashion medicine bags.


While on the island, students will set up camp in a group site located in a secluded part of the Scorpion Anchorage valley. Hiking trails weave in and out of camp, creating a central hub to all the island hot spots. Meals are prepared in our delightful camp kitchen and students eat together on the many picnic benches to create a homey feel like a residential camp. There is potable water and National Park restrooms. Unfortunately there are no showers available on Santa Cruz Island.



Students engage in water testing and salinity experiments, use catch nets, microscopes and specimen cards to identify and explore marine life and the ocean ecosystem.


Miles of hiking trails meander throughout the island's unique landscape.


Students wear wet suits and snorkeling gear to go on a guided tour of the wonders of shallow water marine life.


Here is where it gets good! WOLF prides itself on providing consistently excellent camping food service that leaves everyone coming back for more. Famous meals include tri tip barbecue, bread & vegetables, build your own tostada bar, chicken & vegetable stir fry with sweet Hawaiian rolls, pineapple, and savory desserts. All camping food is generously served buffet style with daily snacks consisting of fruit and granola bars to round out every great day. The cornerstone of the WOLF camping experience is deliciously prepared food and unwavering commitment to service. Camping trips are the best! Come and get it. Eat a lot!

Check out our Food page for more information!