The Focus and Fun of Cave Kayaking Around the Channel Islands

KiaSBExp Focus and Fun of Channel Islands Cave Kayaking_OWTK

Photo by: Joshua Hicks

A snow-capped mountain at dusk.

The top deck of a cruise ship at sea.

Swimming among sea turtles in Hawaii.

Along a wooded path at the local park with your cheery dog.

Soaring above Provencal lavender fields in a colorful hot air balloon.

Belly down on a massage table along the cliffs of a private Jamaican beach.

Pretty vistas are where self-reflection is most possible, where we might pause long enough to take stock of our lives and of our many, call them blessings if you’d like, good fortunes. These are special, few and far between moments designed for deep exhales. They help us become unburdened from the day to day grind of life.

Some of us need these moments more, and more frequently, than others.

Last month, I was desperate for one.

KiaSBExp Focus and Fun of Channel Islands Cave Kayaking

Photo by: @JeanaTravels

Cave kayaking through jagged rocky outcrops carved over millions of years in the Pacific Ocean, while supremely pretty, is not the activity for solemn reflection or calm exhaling.

Not unless you fancy a bit of soggy contemplation and a mouth full of salty kelp.

Cave kayaking on open ocean water around the Channel Islands off the Southern Californian coast is the time for focus.

Nothing but focus.

Hyper focus with blinders on to shut out all ancillary thoughts of bank account balances, Santa Barbara dinner reservations, and that nagging pain in your right ankle, because tipping your highlighter-yellow 2-person kayak would be terribly embarrassing and terribly-er dangerous. There are sharks in ‘dem ‘der waters, yo. Plus that Pacific ocean drink is ice-cube frigid.

While in Santa Barbara last month with Kia, I traded the plush cushioned seats of their Optima SXL and Cadenza for the briny-shrimp-floaty-water of a hard plastic yellow kayak that I co-piloted into and out of epic sea caves, through jagged archways, around dead sea lions, and beneath rocky ceilings gunning for the helmet atop my tall, claustrophobic frame unable to shrink down low enough to be completely at ease.

KiaSBExp Focus and Fun of Channel Islands Cave Kayaking

Paddle faster, Jeff! Photo by: Joshua Hicks.

The Cadenza, on the other hand, the car that took me down the 101 to Ventura, let’s you to ponder life’s biggest questions, like, ‘how early is too early to eat a protein style In-n-Out burger?’, ‘why aren’t all XL shirts the same size?’ and “why does a 5th grader need THAT many Post-It Notes?”

The cabin refinement of the Cadenza is comforting, yes, luxuriously so, but it’s the intelligent tech that lets you be economical with your movement while you drive, allowing your mind to soak in more of the experience of being alive in that moment while commanding the most underrated ride Kia’s impressive, award winning fleet.

KiaSBExp Focus and Fun of Channel Islands Cave Kayaking Elephant Arch

My helmeted head approaching elephant arch of Santa Cruz Island. Photo by: Joshua Hicks.

Back on the arid ground of Santa Cruz Island, eating a gourmet lunch of an incredible brisket sandwich, pasta salad and three soft freshly baked cookies prepared and packed for me with love by Neal Rosenthal of Channel Islands Provisions, I was able to focus on what I’d just accomplished, the fear I’d overcome, and the fun I didn’t think I would have.

On the Island Packers ferry back to the mainland, I stood up a bit taller than I had making the reverse journey earlier in the day. I let the mist hit me, soaking my previously dry post-kayaking replacement shirt. I watched dolphins play in the wake, sea lions chillax on rusted red metal buoys, and the afternoon sun fade and reappear again.

I was so god damn happy.


Sea lion sighting from the ferry.

KiaSBExp Focus and Fun of Channel Islands Cave Kayaking

The #KiaFamily getting briefed on sea kayaking. Photo by: Jeana Bo Beana of Surf and Sunshine.

When I need to reflect on something good these days, when the burden of life feels heavier than it should, when the only vista I’ve got at the ready is a blank white laptop screen and a blinking cursor reminding me of what is expected, it is fun to focus on all that I have to be thankful for in my life; the people with whom shared this Kia trip to Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands sea cave kayaking experience that was a keystone of it, my loving family who is always there for me at home, and all of the people in between coasts who I have come to call friends over the years.

KiaSBExp Focus and Fun of Channel Islands Cave Kayaking

The #KiaFamily during the #KiaSBExp sea kayaking adventure. Photo by: @JeanaTravels

Kia provided all travel and experiences during the #KiaSBExp trip to Santa Barbara. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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