Santa Rosa Island was the backdrop of a morning that can only be described as explosive biodiversity. It was 6:15 on the bow as the ship slowly approached a long stretch of rippling surface water. As we floated closer, we could see the water churning with leaping California sea lions. Cormorants, gulls, and shearwaters circled above them. Then there was a surprise blow and fluke of multiple humpback whales. Finally, from the direction of the island, a pod of common dolphins made a beeline to the feeding waters. Anchovies are the suspected boil of fish and the cause for commotion. We, the observers, were there to see it at its peak...all before breakfast.

Our morning excursion to the island led us up the pier to the old barn and cattle ranching equipment of years gone by. Santa Rosa being nicknamed “The Cowboy Island,” and the site of “the most admired cattle ranch” of the twentieth century. Just outside the paddock, we came upon two endemic Channel Island foxes exploring the grasses for their own breakfast. Guests had wonderful views of the endemic mammals and continued with their hikes. Some passengers opted for small boat tours viewing the massive sandstone cliffs that are unique to this island. After the day of exploring, all were ready for cocktail hour and a relaxing evening.