Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Michael started Santa Barbara Adventure Company in 1998 with the goal of offering local adventures of the highest quality and led by incredible guides. In his 24 years of outdoor leadership experience, Michael has worked as a guide and trip leader for several well known outfitters in the west and abroad, always returning to his hometown between seasons.
Michael’s past leadership experience includes working as a river guide and trip leader in many of the western United States’ most loved sections of river: Idaho’s Middle Fork and Main Salmon, American, Tuolumne, Rogue and he rowed baggage on the Grand Canyon. He also enjoyed leading multiday self-supported sea kayaking trips in Belize, and spent two winters as a diving instructor and underwater vidoegrapher in the British Virgin Islands. Before opening the doors of his own business, he worked as a manager for one of California’s largest outdoor education outfitters.
“I really just wanted to show my guests this incredible and unique section of our country. Ever since I was kid I have been running in the creeks and playing in the ocean here in Santa Barbara. As I worked as a guide in equally beautiful places, I kept coming home to recharge and realized there is so much to offer travelers here as well. SBACo’s continued success comes from word of mouth and return clients. Our guides bring a huge component to the trips with their personalities, backgrounds and field experience. ‘You can always take the guide from the river but you can never take the river from the guide.”
Years with SBACo: 3+
Education: Central Queensland University, B.S. Major in Psychology.
Leadership Background and Experience: 5 yrs Riversurfing Trip Leader in NZ, Riversurfing on 4 continents, Managed Australia’s first SUP school, Guiding canoe, kayak, ropes courses, indoor climbing, mountain biking, team building and orienteering in Australia, Whitewater kayaking in Ecuador, teaching surfing to people with disabilities, multi day hiking trips in back country NZ, SUP racing.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Working with orphaned and rescued mountain lions in Bolivia with my wife. We spent 8-10hrs per day walking, climbing, swimming and exploring in the jungle with the most amazing big cats.
Other than guiding: Growing vegetables, hiking with our dog and making wooden surfboards.
Favorite piece of gear: A helmet because it means I am doing something exciting!
Feedback from our Guests: “Kayaking with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company was the highlight of our trip this past week. Grant was our guide for the day and he did a great job. We felt very well taken care of and were well prepared for the adventure that awaited us. Our 2 kids, 8 and 10 loved every minute of it.” – Michelle McCoy
Years with SBACo: 4+
Education: AA Santa Barbara City College, BA University of California Santa Barbara, Global Studies, emphasis in Latin America and Spanish.
Leadership Background and Experience: Adult leader with the Boy Scouts of America for 5+ years. Rockclimbing instructor at a high adventure base in New Mexico for 3 consecutive Summers. Taught Leave No Trace camping, outdoor skills, and backpacking skills. Certified Wilderness First Responder.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Rappelling Aussie style out of hailstorms!
Other than guiding: Hiking, biking, gardening, building things, cooking, camping, making art, and showing people around Santa Barbara.
Favorite piece of gear: My Patagonia down jacket and a sleeping bag to go.
Feedback from our Guests: “The guides were fantastic (a big thumbs up for both Rachel and Ry). While we are relative novices, our guides adeptly took us into and through a number of small sea caves. The caves were exhilarating to paddle through, even if occasionally terrifying — however, we felt very safe, thanks to the quality and confidence of our guides. On top of that, our guides were enthusiastic, clearly enjoyed their work and their guests, and knew their stuff (kayaking, ecosystem, and local history).” -Leneal (TripAdvisor Review)
Years with SBACo: 12+
Education: Brooks Institute of Photography, Associate’s Degree (Summa cum Laude) Woodbury University, Bachelor’s of Science (Magna cum Laude)
Leadership Background and Experience: AMGA certified, 1999 and 2004
Level I Avalanche certified, National Outdoor Leadership School,1998
Level II Avalanche certified, American Avalanche Institute (AAI), 1999
Level III Avalanche certified, AAI, 2000
Level III Avalanche for Mountain Guides (real-time forecasting) certified, AAI, 2001
Favorite Climbing Routes: “Wings & Stings” (5.7), Hammer Dome, Central Sierra; “Anti-Jello Crack” (5.10a), Dome Rock, Southern Sierra; “Coarse & Buggy” (5.11b), Joshua Tree National Park
Favorite Adventure Trip: Any time I’m on my telemark skis in the winter backcountry.
Favorite Piece of Gear: K2 World Piste telemark skis; Nikon 17-35mm, f:2.8 lens with D200 body
Other than guiding: Other specialties include California Natural History, adventure photography, gourmet coffee, and backyard astronomy. My photography collection is represented and distributed by World Sports Images, Ltd. (http://www.worldsportsimages.com). I am an enthusiastic member of 1% for the Planet.
Feedback from our Guests: “Matthew Finenup is easily the best outdoors instructor that I’ve had the pleasure to be tutored by in my thirty-five years of occasional outdoor adventures and sports. Besides being professional, patient, and a pleasure to be around, Matthew is fully certified by the most prestigious national climbing organization and has approximately twenty years of rock climbing instruction experience. I trusted Matthew with my life and the life of my 17-year-old son, and hope to do it again.” -Fred Wasson
Years with SBACo: 5+
Leadership Background & Experience: Ryland has been surfing, kayaking and biking Santa Barbara his entire life. Guiding at Channel Islands National Park for 2+ years. Certified Wilderness First Responder.
Favorite Adventure trip: Surfing in Baja.
Favorite piece of gear: My surfboard
Feedback from our Guests: “What an amazing day! Ry, our guide, did a great job of getting me and two daughters ages 12 and 9 all surfing well. Perfect spot and great lunch. I would recommend this comapny and guide to anyone wanting to surf for the first time.” – Pillszy (TripAdvisor review)
“Ry was very patient and informative. It was a lovely excursion along the pier, beach, and marina. Ry never rushed us and was always on the lookout for our protection.” – Gina
“Ry is an extraordinary guide, a true local California boy with a permanent smile and relaxed attitude… Definitely worth the time and the money – we would highly recommend this trip!’ -SEdaca (Tripadvisor review)
Years with SBACo: 3
Education: Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Channel Islands Kayaking
Other than guiding: sailing, surfing, Diving, woodworking, music making.
Favorite piece of gear: Fins
Feedback from our Guests: ”Landon was Awesome! My daughters ages 11 and 13 had a great time learning to surf with Landon and the Santa Barbara Adventure Company. We can’t wait to visit Santa Barbara again and when we do we’ll be calling for some more surf lessons with Landon!” – Michael from Denver (TripAdvisor Review)
“My Sea Cave Kayaking adventure with guide Landon Smith on Santa Cruz Island was everything I had hoped for. Landon is attentive and made sure we had a good time. He educated us on the formation of the island and its Indian folklore. I will recommend this trip and your company to my friends and family.” – Victoria
“Your guide Landon helped to produce such an amazing experience on Santa Cruz Island. Myself, my brother and our best friends celebrated my brother’s bachelor party by taking the kayaking tour. Landon led the tour with a perfect balance of challenging sea cave exploration and informative environmentally conscious, hands on nature talks. While educating the group about the history of the island and its importance as a preserve it was clear that Landon had a genuine passion for his work. Thank you Landon and Santa Barbara Adventure company for the amazing experiece!” – Travis Turner
Years with SBACo: 2
Education: AA degree from Goldenwest College. Studied Social Science at University California, Irvine.
Leadership, Background and Experience: I have worked as a California State Park Lifeguard for the past 34 years. Twenty-three of those years were at Huntington / Bolsa Chica State Beaches and Crystal Cove State Park where I was a Rescue Boat Deckhand, Junior Lifeguard Coordinator, Personal Watercraft Coordinator, Permanent Lifeguard and Aquatic Supervisor. In 2000, I moved to Santa Barbara and became the Aquatics Supervisor for El Capitan, Refugio and Gaviota State Beaches. Highlights include supervising the Refugio Junior Lifeguard Program and Gaviota Hoist Program. For many years I was a competitive swimmer, bodysurfer, paddler, surf skier and dory man. I have been surfing since I was 9 years old and look forward to getting out in the water whenever I can. I also coach youth basketball and softball.
Favorite Adventure Trip: I’ve enjoyed traveling a lot in Mexico and Central America on surf trips but my favorite adventures are surf trips with my family.
Favorite piece of gear: My stand-up paddle board.
Years with SBACo: 4+
Education: BS, Recreation Administration, Outdoor Emphasis from San Diego State University
Leadership Background and Experience: I was a Ropes Course Facilitator at SDSU’s ARC Team Challenge for 2 years doing high and low ropes challenge courses. I interned at Outdoor Outreach, an organization that helps at-risk and underprivileged youth through outdoor programming. I worked for I Love a Clean San Diego delivering presentations on topics including resource conservation, waste reduction, recycling, community enhancement, and pollution prevention to youth and adults. Most recently, I spent 5 years working for the California Department of Parks and Recreation in a variety of positions including field biologist, environmental planner, and Interpreter and Docent Coordinator. I am a Wilderness First Responder.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Anything that includes my camper, surfboard, husband, and dog. Usually this means a few weeks in the desert in Baja seeking out as many uncrowded waves as possible.
Other than guiding: Surfing, trail running, birding, writing, and saying grace for being able to call Santa Barbara home.
Favorite piece of gear: Any of my Jake Moss Surfboards and my Teva water shoes.
Feedback from our Guests: “Our guides (Brina and Erin) were so incredibly friendly and personable, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, especially for my first time kayaking. They really helped us feel comfortable the entire way, and were so friendly. Lunch was also great, plenty of food for the group and I would definitely use the company again for future visits…It was an amazing time!” – Natalie Fijacko
Years with SBACo: 3+
Education: B.A. from UCSB 2009-Global Studies
Leadership Background: Co-founder and former president of the Santa Barbara Freedivers spearfishing club; former head beach lifeguard-City of Morro Bay; recipient of Rotary Youth Leadership academic grant.
Favorite Adventure Trip: The five days I spent backpacking the “W” trail in Chilean Patagonia-agonizing at times but also incredibly rewarding.
Other than guiding: When the waves are good I’m usually surfing, but when it’s flat I spend most of my time spearfishing along the coast and at the islands. If I’m not in the water I’m usually riding my bike or hiking in the hills.
Favorite piece of gear: I’ve got two-my polarized sunglasses and a good SPF 30. Whatever I’m doing, I usually have both within arms reach.
Feedback from our Guests: “Wonderful tour guides! Ryan & Adam were informative, amiable & accommodating.” -Tre Chan
“Adam was really personable, knowledgeable and fun.” -Charity
Years with SBACo: 7+
Education: 2 classes short of a BA in business (Entrepreneur Program USC)
Leadership Background and Experience: Eagle Paragliding Chief flight Instructor, United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Instructor Administrator, and Tandem Administrator, 2002 USHPA Instructor of the Year, Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue, Certified EMT, Team coach of the 2009 US Paragliding Team.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Guiding pilots in Valle De Bravo (Valley of the Brave) Mexico on Cross Country Paragliding flights
Other than guiding: Hiking and flying The Andes in Peru
Favorite piece of gear: Compass
Years with SBACo: 6+
Leadership Background and Experience: Surfboard Craftsman at Windsurf Hawaii, Head Lifeguard at Pt. Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station, 10 years Lifeguarding for City of Carpinteria, Manager of Ocean Recreations Center training lifeguards, instructing surfing, kayaking, snorkeling and sailing lessons. Guiding in the Channel Islands National Park since 1994.
Favorite Trip: All of them really.
Why does he like working for SBACo: I got the best co-workers in the world!
Other than guiding: Studio art and ceramics.
Favorite Piece of Gear: 9’3 Bigwave Longboard crafted by Wayne Rich, built for me for the 1993 World Longboard Championships at Haleiwa, Oahu.
Feedback from our Guests: “My husband and I loved our kayaking trip around Santa Cruz Island. Our guide Kenji was friendly, informative and sensitive to varied skill level of the group members. We’re already planning which SB Adventure Co jaunt we’ll do on our return to Santa Barbara in the fall.” -Karin, Wichita Falls, Texas
“A brilliant day learning to surf. Kenji, our guide, somehow managed to get two nervous surfing firsttimers up on the board and surfing after just one lesson. We came away from the day having learnt an amazing new skill and we were taught by a guy who loved what he did and whose enthusiasm for surfing was infectious.” -guest review (Tripadvisor)
Years with SBACo: 2
Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Secondary Social Studies
Leadership Background and Experience: Eagle Scout, teaching outdoor skills and guiding since high school (including backpacking, canoeing, sailing, diving, and Leave No Trace), Coast Guard Captains License (100 Ton), MCA Yachmaster License (200 Ton), First Mate on 150′ tri-deck motor yacht.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Three month solo trip around the world, visiting 10 different countries
Other than guiding: Woodworking and exploring the Central Coast
Favorite piece of gear: Knife
Feedback from our Guests: “Our guide, Laird, was extremely helpful, funny, and pretty much all around awesome.” -Stephen P.
“Laird did a super job getting the whole group of various experience levels to all have enjoy the experience. SBACO impressed me as a very professionally run outfit.” -Ryan C.
“We were picked up promptly by our extremely nice and friendly guide, Laird. He was super patient as this large group of girls asked for photos and extra time to get ready. He took us to each location safely and set up all the snacks/lunch beautifully. He didn’t rush us and was super sweet.” -pripris (TripAdvisor Review)
Years with SBACo: 3+
Education: Bachelor of Arts, “Commercial Photography”, Brooks Institute Bachelor of Arts “History” University of San Diego
Leadership Background and Experience: Worked as a field biologist for 8 years monitoring the breeding success of shorebirds and seabirds up and down the coast of California and Oregon.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Channel Island Sea Caves at Scorpion Anchorage
Other than guiding: www.erinfeinblatt.com Photography / Videography. Surfing, free diving, spending time on my boat.
Favorite piece of gear: Moss Research “Fuselage” surfboard.
Feedback from our Guests: ”My husband and I took the Painted Cave Kayaking trip, and it was amazing. From the delicious breakfast and lunch prepared by the proficient cook on board, to the friendly, knowledgeable and helpful SB Adventure guides Amy and Erin, the day could not have been better.” – maja44 (TripAdvisor Review)
“Fantastic trip. We were assigned Brina and Erin as our guides. Brina took the lead and we went into about 8 caves. She has a ton of interesting info she shared with us. Erin took the end of the group. He went into the water at the start of our trip to show us how to get back in the kayak. He kept us together and safe. Both guides kept us happy and smiling. A great trip!” -Joel F.
Years with SBACo: 2
Education: Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a minor in Outdoor Leadership.
Leadership Background and Experience: lead trips for “SOAR” Success Oriented Achievement Realized a company designed for kids ages 11-18 with ADHD, autism, and other social disorders. The 10 day adventures were filled with camping, surfing, rock climbing, channel islands sea cave kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, deep sea fishing, and horseback riding. I specialized in team building, initiatives, and creating goals designed for success. I am NOLS wilderness first aid certified, Red Cross lifeguard, and Red cross CPR. A Santa Barbara local surf instructor for 3 summers. Advanced training in leading adaptive courses designed for individuals with various disabilities. Includes such activities as tennis, basketball, swimming, kayaking, dancing, rock climbing, surfing, sea cave kayaking, racquetball, quad rugby, obstacle courses, horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, camping, hiking, snorkeling, canoeing, fire building, white water rafting, fishing, photography, art, and hand cycling.
Favorite Adventure Trip: It would have to be my summer of working with SOAR where I got to do a plethora of activities as described above. Yet the most rewarding part of this was to see young people find out that they are capable of anything. There are no limitations only excuses.
Other than guiding: I am an extreme people person and fill my time meeting new people and investing in the people who make my life radical. Other than that I dance at every event I can, go hiking, biking, skateboarding, camping, fishing, painting, photography, and reading. I am also involved in Young Life Santa Barbara as well as an active visitor of the disabled in Santa Barbara.
Favorite piece of gear: Tent, cheapest rent I have ever had.
Feedback from our Guests: “Havah was very attentive to everyone’s needs on the trip, and made sure everyone was paddling efficiently, drinking enough water, etc. When my Mom got a little tired, Havah tethered her kayak to her own and helped with the work load. It was greatly appreciated.” – Kelly R.
“Had a great time!! Had a fantastic, four hour long, surf lesson near Santa Barbara. Havah, the teacher, was excellent!” – Phillip (TripAdvisor Review)
Amy Di Chiro
Years with SBACO: 4+
Education: UC Santa Cruz Graduated with Honors in Community Studies: Social Change with a focus on Youth Empowerment. SBCC: Business 101
Leadership: 5 Years with City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recs Leading Teen Center Programs, Activities, Adventures, and Field Trips. 1 Year Teaching surf lessons to Moms ages 20-50 with Toes on the Nose in Orange County.2003 Volunteer of the Year City of Santa Cruz. 2008 US lifesaving Heroic Act Award.
Favorite Trip: Mountain Biking, Wine Tasting.
Other than guiding: Playing guitar and singing (6 years of Opera). Surfing, Biking, Kayaking, Yoga. I dream of opening my own restaurant one day and singing back up in a band.
Favorite piece of gear: A nice new, warm , dry, wet suit. Its an amazing invention.
Feedback from our Guests: “Amy DiChiro! She is awesome! We did a bike/wine tour for a bachelorette weekend. Amy was awesome! Positive attitude – knew a lot about the area – and laughed with us. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide! She seemed liked she really cared about us having a great experience.” -Kate Delisa
“Amy might be the best tour guide I’ve had, I highly recommended this company and also Amy.” – Derrek Kopp
Years with SBACo: 2+ years
Education: BA in Multimedia Communication from Florida Atlantic University
Leadership Background and Experience: 4 Years leading high/low ropes and team building programs. Association of Challenge Course Technology Level 1 Ropes Facilitator. American Camping Association Counselor, CPR and First Aid. Former Lifeguard and Camp Host.
Favorite Adventure Trip: Biking the east coast from Florida to New Jersey on cheap old craigslist bikes.
Other than guiding: Surfing, Mountain Biking, Photography, Trail Building and Camping.
Favorite piece of gear: My French Press, just in case.
Feedback from our Guests: “Our guide was Kelsey and he was incredible! One girl left her purse in the van accidentally; Kelsey found the purse and drove it all the way back to our hotel to return it. I can’t recommend this tour and driver more. Great experience, great wine and so much fun.” -ICrisL (Tripadvisor Review)
“Kelsey was the best! Kelsey was our surf instructor today. From the beginning, he was friendly and professional. I would take another lesson with Kelsey, and plan to surf again in the future as he has me hooked on surfing now! Thanks for the great experience!” -Tammsters (Guest Review)
Years with SBACo: 1st season
Education: I earned a BA in both philosophy and cultural anthropology from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Leadership Background and Experience: I have worked for UCSB Outdoor Adventure Programs as an as a rock climbing instructor and guide for the last 4 years.
Favorite Adventure Trip: I really enjoy teaching surf lessons! Being able to share the joy that comes with working and playing in the ocean with clients is a euphoric experience.
Other than guiding: My favorite personal outdoor activity is rock climbing. I sneak off to the cliffs, deserts and valleys to climb any chance I get!
Favorite piece of gear: Rope! You can never have too much rope lyin’ around.
Feedback from our Guests: “My boyfriend and I enjoyed the amazing experience of learning to surf from an incredibly talented Santa Barbara Adventure Company instructor, Bryn. Neither one of us had ever surfed before, and I do not have a lot of upper arm strength, but Bryn was able to coax both of us up. He was supportive and engaging. This lesson was nearly a full day in the water catching as many waves as you can (not so many for those of us stuck in sets). I was beaten and tossed by waves, but Bryn offered continued support and I rode one wave all the way to the beach, even stepping off the board easily. That experience made the entire day glow. After that one lesson, my boyfriend feels knowledable enough to rent equipment and try it on his own (Bryn was a great instructor). ..Definitely worth every penny and a memory to last a lifetime.” -Erin B.
Years with SBACo: 2nd season
Education: B.A. in Outdoor Leadership
Leadership Background & Experience: I graduated with a degree in Outdoor Leadership at Simpson University. I’m sure some of you are wondering what that is. Well, in Outdoor Leadership I learned how to facilitate classes, both fun and philosophical, in a wilderness setting; for example, backpacking & Environmental Ethics. So, I guess you’d say I’m a trained Outdoor Educator. I also worked for 2 years managing and belaying the rock-wall at school. I am a Wilderness First Responder and CPR certified.
Favorite Adventure Trip: My favorite trip, hands down, would have to be backpacking 75 miles along the Lost Coast Trail in Northern California. It is, for me, the most beautiful place in the world. It was a school trip that I took part in with 6 other people and it took about 8 days to hike. We trekked along black sandy beaches and traversed up into the mountains, through Redwoods. Ah. . . just thinking about it makes me with I were there.
Favorite piece of Gear: At the moment I really like my REI, water-resistant down booties!!! It’s like sleeping bags for your feet! Very warm… mmmmmm….
Feedback from our Guests: “We took the 4 hour kayak tour last Monday and it was fantastic. Christina was our guide and she was very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.” – L0ldia (Tripadvisor Review)
“Our guides, Christina & Griifin were very knowledgeable and kind. They put us all at ease and were easy going but still made sure we knew everything we needed to be safe on the trip. We saw a baby sea lion, crabs, dolphins, seals and sea stars! Our guides also shared lots of stories about Santa Barbara and the harbor along the way. Our time ocean kayaking was the highlight of our Santa Barbara vacation!” -Cardinal Couple (Tripadvisor Review)
Years with SBACo: This is my first year and I am looking forward to many more. I am so excited to have the opportunity to be part of such a great team.
Education: I am currently studying Cultural Anthropology at Santa Barbara City College.
Leadership Background and Experience: I was an outdoor education summer camp counselor for the YMCA in Sonoma County. Also for 4 years I was greatly involved in a week long outdoor education, backpacking trip for kids in Grass Valley, Ca.
Favorite Adventure Trip: My favorite trip so far is Bike Down.
Favorite piece of gear: Wet suits, they can change your experience on the ocean.
Years with SBACo: 1st season
Education: University of California Santa Barbara B.A. Environmental Studies & Political Science
Leadership Background and Experience: Founding member and Lead Instructor with nonprofit EENG, (Environmental Education for the Next Generation), where I designed and led teams of instructors, teaching environmental lesson units to 1st and 2nd graders. Head Lifeguard and Surf and Kayak Camp instructor 5+ years.
Favorite Adventure trip: As much as my New Z surf trip should go here, its got to be the 18 days I spent trekking the JMT (225 mile John Muir Trail), everyone should do that trip at least once in their life!
Favorite piece of gear: My wetsuit– this little sea-lion coating gives me super powers!
Feedback from our Guests: “I wanted to thank you for your help organizing the bike winery tour for us. It went great… everyone had an excellent time, and our guide , Jennifer, could not have been better. She was professional, friendly, flexible and organized.” -Ethan
“Our guides, Adam and Jenn, were very friendly to us the entire time and put up with our antics beautifully. They gave us a truly VIP experience.” -Sally