Santa Barbara Adventure Company | Tours & Activities
Santa Barbara Adventure Company Exploring some of California's most beautiful places including Channel Islands National Park. Fun Tours and Activities on California's Coast. Kayaking, Biking, Wine Tours, Surfing and More. Offering tours in Channel Islands, Santa Barbara &
You’ve heard about popular spring wildflower destinations such as Carrizo Plains and Anza Borrego in southern California. But have you seen the Channel Islands superbloom? Dozens of species of wildflower cover the islands, making the already beautiful hikes just purely jawdropping.
Come join us this spring for kayaking, hiking, and wildflower viewing on Santa Cruz Island.
Recent photos from the islands below by kayak guides Chuck Graham, Sarah Adams and Cat Bronge, as well as Island Packers deckhand Lindsay Hart.
Visiting the Channel Islands can be done as a day trip or camping. Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island has a large variety of hikes for viewing wildflowers, as well as incredible kayaking opportunities. To book a trip you can visit our website or call us at 805-884-9283 and we can arrange your ferry tickets, sea cave kayaking tour and point you in the direction of our favorite wildflower trails.
A typical day would look something like this: 9am: depart Ventura harbor
10:15am: arrive Channel Islands and begin kayaking tour
1pm: end kayaking tour and have lunch
1:30-4pm: take a hike and enjoy the stunning ocean views and wildflowers. We recommend Cavern Point, Potato Harbor Overlook or part-way to Smugglers Cove (all the way if you are camping or have the time)
4:30pm depart on Island Packers back to the mainland
5:15 arrive mainland
Our sea cave kayaking tour at Scorpion Anchorage, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park.
With warm weather coming and the days getting longer, people are looking for things to do! Santa
Barbara is the perfect place for spring break with a wide variety of outdoor adventures, museums,
events, and activities to choose from.
Here are five of our top choices!
1)Refugio Kayak Tour
For a local kayaking adventure, the Refugio State Beach kayak tour is a great option. This tour meets at Refugio State Beach and explores the Gaviota Coast – one of the few remaining undeveloped coastlines in California! A local guide leads the tour, teaching basic kayaking skills beforehand and pointing out the local ecology and history throughout the tour. Lunch is included. This is a perfect half day adventure and a great way to get a new view of the California coastline!
2) Kayaking the Channel Islands
If you are looking for a longer kayaking adventure, go kayaking on the Channel Islands! This all-day
adventure starts in Ventura where you meet your guide, board a ferry, and head off to the Channel
Islands National Park! Three different tour options – Discovery, Adventure, and Ultimate – allow you to
choose your tour length and skill level desired. All tours explore the famous sea caves and marine
wildlife that is so spectacular out on the islands. To make your tour all-inclusive you can order meals
with Channel Island Provisioners. Kayaking on the Channel Islands is an experience of a lifetime!
3) Wine Tour in the Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Valley is another great area to explore and there are a variety of wine tours available to experience the region. This area is beautiful in the spring, the hills are green and the wildflowers are
blooming, making for a picturesque spring tour. The Santa Ynez Valley Tour is the classic wine tour and includes door to door shuttle service, wine tasting at three local wineries, fresh and local lunch, and a knowledgeable guide to share knowledge and insights from the area. Other options are available including a Wine and Bike Tour, Cupcake and Wine Tour, Wine County Shuttle service, and even custom group tours. The Wine Tours are a great way to explore the Valley and get a unique perspective of Santa Barbara County.
4) Visit the MOXI
The city of Santa Barbara itself is full of adventures and places to explore, like the MOXI museum. The
MOXI is an interactive museum that offers guests a chance to learn and play. Exhibits include everything from interactive sound studios to a fluid dynamic sky garden. Located in the heart of downtown, this museum is great for all ages and has special events and programs for a variety of age groups throughout the year to make your trip even more fantastic.
5) Go to a Festival
One not to miss spring event in Santa Barbara is the Earth Day Festival. Celebrating it’s 49th year here in Santa Barbara, this festival has two full days of entertainment, music, exhibits, and even a beer and wine garden! With exhibits for all ages and a variety of food options, this event has something for
everyone. This festival is a great way to see the local side of Santa Barbara and help a great cause.
Santa Barbara truly is a great place to experience Spring Break. With access to so many trails,
restaurants, and shops, as well as so many activities, it has something for everyone.
The Channel Islands National Park is a fantastic area to connect with nature and spot wildlife. In fact, there are some endemic plants and animals that can only be found on the Islands. Here are some of the most famous plants and animals to look for that are found only on the Channel Islands!
The most photographed, and arguably the cutest animal on the island, is the island fox. This small mammal lives on six of the eight Channel Islands and is found nowhere else on earth. In fact, each Island has its own subspecies of the fox, yet they all descended from the mainland gray fox. Although this fox is easily found on Santa Cruz Island, the fox was on the endangered species list less than 20 years ago due to an unbalanced ecosystem. Thanks to drastic conservation efforts, the island fox population is now healthy once again. At only about a foot high, it is hard to believe, but this little animal is the top predator on the island, so they are now plentiful and easy to spot while exploring Santa Cruz. Just resist the urge to feed them!
Island Scrub Jay
Did you know that there is a famous bird that people travel all over the world to see on Santa Cruz Island? The Island Scrub Jay is a vibrant blue bird with a distinct, which makes it relatively easy to spot and a treat to see. This bird is related to the mainland Western Scrub Jay and is slightly larger and bluer than its mainland relative. The Jay is only found on Santa Cruz Island though there is historical evidence that the Jays also used to live on Santa Rosa Island. Although the birds seem plentiful on the island, because they only live on the one island, they have an extremely small population and are one of the rarest birds in the United States!
The Island Spotted Skunk is another mammal endemic to the islands, found only on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa. This little guy is named after the white broken lines marking its back that appears like spots against its black glossy fur. It is one of two terrestrial carnivores on the islands, the other being the foxes. The spotted skunk is a nocturnal animal, most active in the early morning hours just before dawn and tends to stay away from humans, so it is one of the more difficult animals to spot.
An endemic plant found throughout the national park is Island Paintbrush. Species of this beautiful plant are found throughout North America, yet this specific variety grows only on the islands and is well adapted to the dry, Mediterranean climate in which it grows. The flower of this plant is typically red, but yellow blooms can be found as well. The spring season is a great time to get out and hunt for flowers.
One other plant worth noting is the Torrey Pine. It is found in two places in the world, Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park and Northern San Diego. The interesting disparity between the range of the plant relates back to the geological theory that the Islands were once off the coast of San Diego and moved their way up over the centuries. The Torrey is one of the rarest pine trees and grows well in the coastal climate in which it dwells; it is drought tolerant and often grows beautiful, twisted trunks as the wind daily shapes it. Although it is more out of the way, it is a great tree to see!
Learn more about animals at the Channel Islands National Park here!
With all these unique plants and animals out on the Channel Islands, try to spot some on your next trip out, they are well worth the hunt!
Santa Barbara has an incredible selection of dining options for every budget and every craving. We’ve selected some favorites to give you ideas for pairing your accessible and delicious meal with your next tour!
You’ll notice this is our longest list in comparison to our 4 Best Breakfast Places to Eat in Santa Barbara & our Favorite Quick Lunch Locations in Santa Barbara. We believe dinnertime is all about community and coming together around the table to share incredible stories of adventure.
Things we love about The Lark: atmosphere, artisan and seasonal ingredients, and that their flavored popcorn changes nightly. The Lark is awesome for an on-the-go-salad or an upscale night out. The Lark is a popular spot & it’s in the always popping Funk Zone, so reserve in advance on Open Table.
One of the hottest new spots in town! You can almost see the harbor from Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen on State Street. A brick-lined gastro-pub with a copper bar featuring unique eats, local beer on tap, and craft cocktails that brings upscale cooking to casual dining. This place is almost always full so be ready to hang at the bar before grabbing some grub (we recommend their burgers & salads). No sweat if you are vegetarian or vegan; this is one of the limited spots in Santa Barbara where you can find the Impossible Burger. Finney’s is also a perfect location for joining our popular sunset kayak tour before or after dinner.
Just a couple doors down from Finney’s, Santo Mezcal is a classy Mexican establishment with contemporary cuisine with local and seasonal ingredients. They have an impressive tequila and mezcal collection as well. You can’t go wrong with the State Street facing atmosphere here—it’s perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or a great place to spend all evening. Their chips come with a trio of salsas and don’t twice, get the guacamole as well.
Premium, custom cut meats and poultry and family recipes make Shalhoob Meat Co. an ideal spot for meat-lovers. Check out their new Funk Zone Patio for a great, hip, non-stop night out.
Any of the above dinner spots are perfect for then cruising over to the Santa Barbara harbor/marina for a Sunset Kayak Paddle!
A vegan, vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free restaurant on the Santa Barbara Mesa, Mesa Verde features primarily locally harvested ingredients and gluten free entrees. A unique blend of a variety of Mediterranean dishes, you’ll find flavors of Morocco, Egypt, South of France, and Sicily. Blow your taste buds away with this Earth-friendly restaurant.
Depending on what time you eat at Mesa Verde, head to the Mesa Lane steps for beach access to catch sunset. It’s less than 5 minutes from Mesa Verde. If you’re looking to spend a full-time at the beach we recommend Refugio State Beach, 20 minutes North of Santa Barbara. If you’re looking for an adventure check out our Refugio State Beach kayak tour which meets daily at 10am.
The Blue Owl
Night owl or not, The Blue Owl in downtown Santa Barbara has some delicious food for late-night. The Blue Owl serves Asian-inspired dishes, sandwiches on house made breads (think: Banh Mi), and seasonal salads. Or stop by for beer or wine. Gluten-free and vegan options available as well. It’s perfect for refueling after a nice of dancing at Wildcats lounge. If you’re a night-owl and not too interested in early morning tours make sure to check out our 1pm Fun Paddle in the Santa Barbara Harbor. It’s perfect for those who aren’t keen on early morning starts. At $55/person it’s a great budget-friendly option for a guided on-the-water tour of Santa Barbara.
We hope you enjoy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara. Have you eaten dinner in Santa Barbara? What is your favorite restaurant? Leave us a comment below!
Grab a quick and satisfying lunch before heading outdoors for an adventure with us!
Hana Kitchen has you covered for Asian-fusion eats and tea drinks, with vegan options too! It’s an inexpensive, casual spot for a tasty rice bowl with all the fixings!
Best Mexican Food
Let’s taco ‘bout tacos! Santa Barbara has some great hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants. Whether burritos, tacos, tortas, or quesadillas are your thing, Here are our favorite lunchtime locations for great Mexican food:
Los Agaves for their incredible selection of salsas.
Last but not least, La Super-Rica Taqueria is famous for winning the heart of Julia Child when she lived in Santa Barbara but it’s also one of our favorites for original recipes & unique flavors.
Santa Barbara County is famous for tri tip and there is no better place in town to try this delightful sandwich than at Shalhoobs. We also included Shalhoob’s in our round-up of Best Restaurants in Santa Barbara for dinner too! It’s an all-day exciting place to grab lunch or dinner thanks to their great location in the Funk Zone and their beautiful outdoor patio. Plus, did we mention they brew their own beer!
If you’re a big fan of tri-tip don’t miss visiting ColdSprings Tavern on HWY 154. We love stopping here on our Santa Ynez Valley wine tours.
Best Seafood in The Marina
Brophy Bros. is a Santa Barbara staple. You can’t beat their view or their select of fresh seafood. Did we mention they have really great (hint: strong) drinks as well. While dining here keep your eyes peeled for our guides & guests on our 2 hr. Fun Paddle kayak tour of the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Finch & Fork
If you’re looking for something a little bit more upscale & with indoors seating check out Finch & Fork, in the Kimpton Canary hotel. They have incredible cocktails for a mid-day drink. This is also a great location for a “working lunch meeting”. We frequent the Kimpton Canary hotel for pick-ups & drop-offs for our Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tours.
Build your own breakfast at Dawn Patrol — our favorite local hash house just around the corner from Santa Barbara Adventure Co. and up the street from the harbor. If you care about where your food comes from like we do, you’ll notice they use all local ingredients, (including free-range eggs and organic coffee). Featuring bomb hash, house-made breads, an organic juice bar, and killer vibes, Dawn Patrol is a perfect way to start your fun-filled day. Open at 7:30am for those early birds so you can fuel up before enjoying a Seaside Bike Tour of the waterfront & State Street. One of our favorite places to visit on our Seaside Bike Tour is the historic Santa Barbara courthouse. Looking to get your adrenaline pumping? Join us for our Mountains to Shore Bike Tour. We’ll drive to the top of Gibraltar Mountain for epic vistas of the Santa Barbara Rivera and then coast downhill on mountain bikes to the ocean stopping along the route to discussion local history & lore.
Whether you can correctly pronounce “Açaí” or not, you’re going to love the nutrient-packed acai bowls, smoothies, hot porridges, and more. Backyard Bowls is a healthy, delicious, and fast meal option run by amazing humans who strive to minimize our earthly impact with thoughtfully sourced and/or organic ingredients and lots of love. Just a short walk to the harbor where you can enjoy breakfast before a kayaking trip along the Santa Barbara waterfront at 10am or after lunch at 1pm.
*P.S. This amazing superfood is pronounced ah-sigh-EE.*
The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach
Do you love the smell of the sea while eating delicious seafood? Take a walk on the beach then pop in to Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach dining with an ocean view (also known as Arroyo Burro beach). We love the seafood benedicts and craft cocktails. Boathouse is just north of downtown Santa Barbara and you can continue north to Refugio State Beach for a full-day Coastal Kayak tour.
In search of gluten-free options? Check out Lilac Pâtisserie for breakfast, lunch, or dessert (our favorite). Did someone say (gluten-free) cake?! If you have a sweet tooth you’ll also want to check out our Wine & Cupcake tour in the Santa Ynez Valley. Or if you want to be active for the day visiting the Santa Ynez Valley for our Wine Country by Bike Tour is a great idea as well. All of our wine tours include pick-up & drop-off from any location in Santa Barbara.
We hope our list of the 4 Best Breakfast Places in Santa Barbara helps you kick start a fun-filled adventure day! Feel free to give the Santa Barbara Adventure Company (805-884-9283) a call to help in planning your Santa Barbara Vacation.
The ocean is one of the many reasons that people flock to Santa Barbara from all over. Down by the Santa Barbara Harbor, there are a whole bunch of activities that are great for all ages, all skill levels, and of course, all kinds of travelers. Here are some of our favorite activities to do in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
What are fun activities to do in the Santa Barbara Harbor?
1) The Santa Barbara Fun Paddle kayak tour is a 2-hour guided tour that’s a great experience for those who want something fun & relaxing and want to hit the water but don’t have a lot of time. This tour is great for kids, older adults, and travelers with a tight schedule. You can explore the harbor boats, and even take a tour under the Santa Barbara Wharf! Our favorite thing to do is catch some snapshots of hulled out seals sunning themselves and of course, picking our favorite dream sailboat!
2) Stop in and visit the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. We love learning more about the history of the area and seeing the wooden boats. They are closed on Wednesdays but open every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Sundays from 10-5pm and Saturdays from 9-3pm. The museum is free for children ages 1-5 and active military. Seniors (65+), students with IDS, and youth (6-17) are just $5 and adults are $8. Learn more on their website.
3) The Santa Barbara Harbor kayak tour is a slightly longer tour than the short Santa Babara Harbor Fun Paddle. The 4-hour tour is great for those who love the water and want to see and learn more even about the natural history, and unique wildlife of Santa Barbara. After completing a loop of the harbor, your guide will take you just past the harbor seawall to a buoy frequented by lots of sea lions. Our favorite part of our Harbor Kayak is landing for a beachside picnic lunch in the middle of your tour. Your guide will become your chef and you’ll have some time to kick back and relax a bit before hitting the water post lunch for more sightseeing. You might even have the opportunity to catch a few waves on this longer kayak tour!
4) Grab a seat & bowl of clam chowder at Brophy Bros. Resturant. Brophy’s offers a fun, lively atmosphere with beautiful views of the mountains and harbor. We love sitting at the bar to chat up the locals & catching the incredible view beyond. If you’re not a chowder fan you can’t go wrong with their crab cakes or beer battered fish & chips!
5) Looking for some evening fun in the Santa Barbara Harbor? For those looking for a safe, fun, and romantic evening our Santa Barbara Harbor Sunset Paddle is a must do. As you kayak around the harbor the sun dips low in the sky and all of Santa Barbara is painted with the most beautiful peach and orange colors. What’s better still, is you’ll have the best view from the water! It’s a relaxing 2.5-3-hour tour, with all the information and wildlife opportunities as the Harbor Kayak.
Why would I want a guided kayak tour vs. renting kayaks?
Number one is always safety. Having a guide with you who has experience and training under their belt is important for each client to walk away feeling safe and having fun the whole time they are exploring. A guided tour also allows you to get the most out of your experience out on the water. Whether it be learning about the history of Santa Barbara, our rich maritime roots, catching a unique wildlife sighting, or just having someone to ask questions to, our guides are equipped and knowledgeable to handle it all.
What if I don’t want to kayak?
No problem! If you are still looking to be in the harbor and on the water, we can offer Stand-Up-Paddleboarding Lessons and tours. If you haven’t ever tried SUPing, it’s a great activity to test your balance and gives you a great work out! Or we could do a fun seaside bike starting from the Harbor. Our seaside bike tour takes you from the Harbor area all the way to Butterfly Beach & up State Street. We’ll stop to explore the clock tower at the courthouse and maybe even get a scoop of McConnell’s icea cream! There are lots of different activities that are great for any kind of traveler. Check out our website to learn more. https://www.sbadventureco.com/
Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers a fun, challenging and rewarding place of employment for people who love to be outside and share our region’s natural, beautiful places with our guests. We offer a huge variety of activities in and around Santa Barbara; imagine sea kayaking the Channel Islands one day, biking down the Santa Ynez Mountains the next and then facilitating a corporate team building trip the following day. This variety of work is one of the main reasons our guides love this job so much – they never get bored. In our 20th year of operation, we pride ourselves on our reputation as the biggest and best outfitter in the region and we are only looking for the best guides around.
Interested individuals should have these qualities:
Love being outside
Enjoy sharing beautiful places around Santa Barbara with others
Are active & physically fit
Can adapt their teaching style to different personalities
Enjoy a fast-paced work environment
Can think on their feet
Take having fun seriously
Enjoy a fun, tight-knit workplace that celebrates success
Desired skills for becoming a guide with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company:
Outstanding customer service
Excellent communication and teaching skills
Leadership/Group Management skills
Commercial Guiding experience is a plus but not required
Team building Facilitation
Interest & desire for Environmental Stewardship
Interpretation skills and knowledge of local human and natural history
First Aid/CPR certification, WFR, and WFA preferred
Commercial driver’s license preferred (can get after hiring)
Prior skillsets that are helpful for becoming a guide with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company:
Sea kayaking experience
Team building experience with kids or adults
Experience leading surf or SUP lessons
Ability to ride a bicycle
Knowledge of the local area
Experience driving trailers
Work Season: Our busy season stretches from February – October with our peak months being June – September. Generally, new guides must be available for training beginning in February and be available to work until October. Guides must have flexible schedules; generally, we prefer to hire full-time guides vs. part-time guides. We are open year-round and there are a few select positions available for those looking for full-time year-round work. We operate day trips out of Santa Barbara, CA & Ventura, CA and multi-day trips in the Southern California area for outdoor education as well multi-day runs at the Channel Islands National Park.
Want to Learn More? Check out our company on our social media platforms to learn more about us:
Typically we hire most of our new guides in JANUARY, then training begins in February. Our outdoor education season runs from March-May then from June-August we are sold-out almost daily with public day trips and from September-October, we have more outdoor education trips as the season quiets down. We accept applications year round.