Painted Cave

Useful Information

Painted Cave, Ca, U.S.A. Public Domain.
Location: Santa Cruz Island.
Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center: 110 km north of Los Angeles. Freeway 101 towards Santa Barbara, Telephone Road exit, left on Telephone, right on Olivas Park Drive to Harbor Boulevard.
Ferry from Ventura harbor or Santa Barbara harbour.
(34.070939, -119.860424)
Open: Park: all year.
Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center: all year daily 8:30-17.
Closed Thanksgiving, 25-DEC.
Fee: Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center: free.
Park: free.
Boat trips: ask boat operators.
Classification: SpeleologySea Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: H=49 m, W=31 m, L=402 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Travis Hudson (1982): Guide to Painted Cave, Paperback, McNally & Loftin Pub; (September 1982), ISBN: 0874610494
Dave Bunnell (1988): Sea Caves of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara, CA McNally and Loftin, Publishers. ISBN 0-87461-076-1.
Address: The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park, 1901 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001, Tel: +1-805-658-5730.
Island Packers, 1867 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, California 93001, Tel: +1-805-642-1393. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Painted Cave, so called because of its colorful rocks, lichens, and algae. In other words, Painted Cave is not a ArchaeologyPainted Cave, it's a proper name, not a classification. It was the longest sea cave in the world for some time, but as always with superlatives, longer sea caves were discovered and today its on place 12 [2022]. This is a never ending race, and painted cave was on place 1 for many years. And for us as author it's the point where we ge nervous, searching for all the descriptions where we gave the old number, which must be corrected.

Unfortunately it is rather difficult to visit this cave, as there are no regular tours or boat trips from the mainland to the cave. You have to take a ferry to the island and then take a tour on the island to the cave. It changes now and then, but un general such tours are offered by the NPS as well as local adventure companies. The cave belongs to the Channel Islands National Park, and it is allowed to visit it. Of course, it is recommended to talk to the rangers first. The water currents and waves are rather difficult and the advice of the rangers must be obeyed. It is possible to kajak to the cave, and there is an operator on the island who offers tours including painted cave. He offers numerous tours, the other actually show rather similar sea caves closer to the harbour, which are very similar. So you should check you personal fitness before you decide to take the longest tour. Check the internet for the tours, which change frequently, and which ferry you have to take.

If this is too complicated for you, and you are willing to spend some money for the trip, you might want to charter a boat at Ventura or Santa Barabara harbour, for a half day or better full day private trip. The skipper can drive you where ever you want including the sea caves. If they have a dinghy, you can even motor into the cave. It's not really exceptional, many people charter boats for fishing or for sightseeing trips.