There is nothing like waking up at sea, strolling to the bow to meet the morning mist with coffee in hand, and watching the sunrise. The water outside of our landing, Two Harbors, or the “Isthmus of Catalina Island” is teeming with life. Risso’s and bottlenose dolphins are circling the bow after a long night of fishing. Cormorants, gulls, and other sea birds glide above us and rest on the water’s surface ahead. California sea lions are attempting to warm themselves as the sun begins to burn off the marine fog. This, our first morning aboard the National Geographic Venture is one to remember.

Santa Catalina Island is the first stop on our two-week voyage to La Paz, Mexico. Catalina, one of California’s Channel Islands, is known for its pristine coastal ecosystems, endemic flora and fauna, and human history that dates back 7,000 years. After breakfast, our guests load into Zodiacs to explore the island by land and sea. Some of us take in the scenery from an overlook at Fisherman’s Cove above Two Harbors. Others enjoy a stroll to Cat Harbor on the opposite side of the isthmus and a few brave guests endure a strenuous hike to appreciate the island from a 1,000 ft. viewpoint. Content from our land exploration, we return to Zodiacs for a closer look at the island’s marine life. The Risso’s dolphins from this morning are still about, and our naturalist team even spot a white Risso’s among the pod. After enjoying lunch, we raise anchor and begin our journey south.