24 Hours: Standup Paddle Boarding Santa Rosa Island

standup paddling santa rosa island

*Photos by Chuck Graham 

The Crew Assemble

We received an email from a guy named Patrick O’hea in regards to a paddle trip he was planning to go Standup Paddle Boarding Santa Rosa Island which is 28 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara. Patrick was looking for an inflatable standup paddle board for this excursion because the ferry to the island prohibits any hard epoxy boards.

This wasn’t a solo trip but instead a group of three guys all whom have their own accolades. Both Patrick O’hea and Will Meyer are former U.S National Rowing Team members and Chuck Graham who is a renowned photographer and has been featured in various SUP magazines and other major publications.

This wasn’t their first jaunt together; back in October of 2014 they all met in Big Sur, CA for a paddle across some of the most dangerous and breathtaking coastline in the world. This particular trip was supposed to last a 3 day weekend but instead was forced to only 24 hours.

“The trip was supposed to be a 3 day weekend but forced to 24 hours

inflatable Paddle boards on beach santa rosa island

Below is a recap of their 24 hour trip as told by Patrick

 DAY 1

The first day we aimed for an an easy paddle from the pier, where the ferry dropped us off, to the trail that led to our camp site. I quickly found out why this body of water was considered one of the most dangerous channels in the world. With over 50 lbs. of gear, the Isle inflatable board handled awesome with the wind at my back. I caught some nice bumps but found I was being sucked into the channel. By the time I made my way back to shore, I had over shot my destination by over a mile.

“I quickly found out why this body of water was considered one of the most dangerous channels in the world.”

santa rosa island Inflatable sup adventure paddling

 Cruising the Coves & Caves

Later that day we headed over to some nearby coves where Chuck shot some pictures of us paddling in an amazing back drop. The second day we got an early start before the wind got too heavy. We headed upwind to a rock arch where Chuck got some more pictures. From there, we continued our journey to a cove five miles further.

Santa Rosa Island cave dwelling

Gone With the Wind

By this time, the winds were kicking up to 20 knots plus. Between the wind and back lash of the waves hitting the adjacent cliffs, it was nearly impossible to stand. We finally got to our destination, took some more pictures, and headed back before the wind hit full force.

Santa Rosa Island windy seas

The trip back to our camp proved to be much less exhausting with really powerful wind at our backs making for a fun down winder. The boards responded well and were surprisingly easy to control and catch bumps. Later that day, the winds were so heavy, they would put an end to our paddling.

 “Between the wind and back lash of the waves hitting the adjacent cliffs, it was nearly impossible to stand.”

Rocky cliff face and a windy day Stand up paddle boarding against the wind

 A Whole New World Just Off the Cali Coast

I can’t say enough about how amazing the Channel Islands are. There is wildlife and vegetation out there that exists nowhere else in world. Even with their proximity to The California coast, you feel like you’re in a new world. I couldn’t imagine a better way to explore these island then by stand up. Sadly, the ferry to take to the island won’t allow standard SUPs but will allow inflatables.

 “I couldn’t imagine a better way to explore these island then by stand up”

 Santa Rosa Island paddle boarding by seal colony

Posted in Travel
Marc Miller - Co-Founder of Isle Surf & SUP. I started Isle back in 2004 to share my love of paddling and surfing in the ocean with others one board at a time. I love to surf, paddle , travel and write about it. When im not in the office I can be found on foreign shores searching for waves and fun.

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