Off the Beaten Path: Painted Sea Caves~

On the western side of Santa Cruz Island (click/tap to enlarge),

in Channel Islands National Park,

off the coast of Southern California,

you will find,

the fourth largest sea cave in the world.

The cave extends for a quarter mile under the basalt cliffs of Santa Cruz Island.

You can enter and explore the cave by boat.

It’s vibrant colors are created by lichen growing on the cave walls.

I saw similar caves in Isla Ballestas in Peru, but the colors in the Peruvian caves were formed by strata in the rock and there was more natural light to see inside:

Islas Ballestas~

Cheers to you from the world’s fascinating ‘Off the Beaten Path’ Sea Caves~

174 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path: Painted Sea Caves~

  1. Caves are fun places to explore. The photos are beautiful, Cindy! I’ve only been crawling about in land caves, the last being Mammoth Caves in Kentucky a long, long time ago.

  2. Another amazing place Cindy, all those colors in the caves leaves you in awe as did that other post you linked too. Again an incredible place, thank you for the share ๐Ÿ˜€โค๏ธ๐Ÿ™

  3. Well, not off Your beaten path. You oft seem to land where critters and colors abound. Generous to share with us. Liked the island images previously, but this time (between shoreline here & those Peruvian’s) find myself looking over my shoulder for something Jurassic. I do like caves, but prefer mine dry, no matter where. Love water but it IS dangerous. Thanks for being our eyes.

    1. Yes, ocean caves are not to be trifled with. A set of waves can be fatal to the unwary. Anacapa Island especially seems Jurassic to me. But the only dinos there are fossils! แƒ“

  4. Pygmy mammoth fossils are found on those islands.
    Imagine the oceans 200+ feet lower. Thousands of what are now islands would have been part of the mainland. And all along the continental shelves, millions of primitive humans would have lived and died, their camps and artifacts drowned by the seas. And to think that tiny mammoths roamed Santa Cruz island… beyond comprehension.

  5. Oh how beautiful the sea caves are. Your photos are incredible, Cindy, capturing the colors and the beauty in what I am guessing is a very dark place. Lovely post, I had no idea, thank you.

    1. Thanks so much, and yes, it was quite dark, I took photos both with flash and not. As we entered flash wasn’t necessary, but as we proceeded it was and it lit up all the colors แƒ“

    1. It gets narrower and there are cavities or rooms. The boat goes fully into the cave, but if you wanted to go further, you would need a kayak. I was fine with how far we went though แƒ“

  6. Pingback: Echoes in the Mist

    1. You are correct that basalt is extrusive igneous rock created when lava cools rapidly on the surface. Basalt does have some color, but not as much mineral color as you see in the cave strata from Peru. The color in the caves on Santa Cruz Island come from Lichen growing on the surface of the cave walls แƒ“

  7. They are a bit off the beaten track! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But easy to find once you know where you’re going! That said, they are a bit smelly ๐Ÿคฃ too – graffiti artists ๐ŸŽจ are regularly at work in them so the view changes all the time, but the graffiti paint they use creates a smelly ๐Ÿ˜‰ odour that really is best dealt with by the use of a gas mask!!๐Ÿ˜ท Great place for photography though ๐Ÿคฉ

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