“26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a’waitin for me.” Well, it wasn’t 26 miles and we didn’t arrive via the Los Angeles area; instead, we came in through the back door, across 115 miles from San Miguel Island. We arrived at Little Harbor just before dawn. The swells were a bit large, but an offshore reef protects Little Harbor, making the area calm enough for water activities. Almost everyone enjoyed kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding for half the morning. Then, we went hiking on a choice of trails. Some guests went for the overlook; others explored the beach at Shark Cove. The beach yielded several geological and biological treasures, as well as plastic, which we dutifully collected for disposal.

After lunch, we sailed to Two Harbors on the sheltered side of the island. Again, several guests went on hikes, while others opted for a Zodiac cruise around Isthmus Cove. They viewed large flocks of cormorants and pelicans on Bird Rock (an apt name), as well as a large male sea lion and his harem.

Captain’s Dinner awaited us when we returned to National Geographic Quest, followed by the traditional slide show that displays our guests’ considerable photographic talents. Tomorrow, we sail to the harbor in San Pedro, where we will head off to various ‘harbors’ in the US.

It was a grand cruise. Among our many memorable experiences, we viewed firsthand the remarkable success of bringing the island fox, the grey whale, and the brown pelican from near extinction to near historical levels. We also observed the rebounding ecosystems that result from the removal of invasive species. We have seen living proof that we can make a difference if we use our minds, talents, and creativity to solve conservation issues.