Nature Conservancy Tour

Kayak, Hike and Explore the San Juan Islands

Surrounded by crystal-green waters, the San Juan archipelago consists of over 170 islands. The rocky and forested islands are bounded on the southwest by snow-covered Olympic Mountains and to the east by the rugged Cascade Mountains.

The striking environment and fascinating variety of marine mammals and bird species all add to the allure of the islands. Located in the rain shadow of the Olympics, the islands receive almost half the precipitation of Seattle – making them an ideal summer destination. Our San Juan sojourn features a small intimate group, personable naturalist/guides and cozy lodging. We’ll be exploring the islands on foot as well as via stable double kayak. No previous kayak experience is necessary.

Our trip is designed to provide participants with numerous “hands-on”
opportunities to observe and learn more about the fascinating marine mammals and birds that frequent the archipelago. Quiet and unobtrusive our double kayaks provide the perfect means for exploring the myriad forms of sea life we encounter.

The Nature Conservancy and Outdoor Odysseys have joined forces to offer a fun, active tour of San Juan Island and the surrounding waters. We’ll explore some of the best the islands have to offer via stable kayaks as well as by van and foot. You’ll stay in a cozy B and B (think showers!) as well as camp one night on scenic Jones Island. A portion of the proceeds goes to support Nature Conservancy programs.

Dates and Prices

No previous kayaking experience needed to enjoy our tours!

Price: $1545 ($150 goes to the Nature Conservancy)

Date: June 25-29, September 10-14

Trip Features:

  • “Best of San Juan Island”: Includes an easy hike with stunning views of the Canadian San Juans and a visit to the British Camp – a historic national park.
  • Whale Watching: We’ll spend an afternoon on a commercial whale boat in search of 85 resident Orca whales & visit the Whale Museum.
  • Amazing wildlife: Orca whales, harbor seals, eagles, osprey, river otter and brightly colored purple sea stars!
  • Great Kayaking: Paddle among countless small islands and rock encrusted bays including camping on an island only accessible by boat.
  • Cozy Lodging: Three nights are spent at a local B and B and one night camping on a pristine island accessible only by boat.

    View colorful anemones as you kayak.

Trip Itinerary

Sunday, Day O: Travel Day

Travel day to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. Suggested lodging on San Juan Island is at the States Inn.

Monday, Day 1: “Eagles and Orcas” Day Kayak Tour

Our first day of kayaking (after a thorough on-land orientation) launches from San Juan County Park. Our put-in site on Haro Strait is located in the heart of prime orca whale habitat. No guarantees as they can swim up to a hundred miles a day – but we will opportunities for seeing Orca whales – as well as harbor seals and dall porpoise.

After paddling for an hour and a half, we’ll stop for a leisurely lunch just south of Whale Watch Park. After lunch we’ll paddle south a bit more and then work our way north to our put-in. We’ll get back to the States Inn sometime between 4 – 4:30 PM. We’ll rendezvous at 6 PM and then go to a local restaurant in Friday Harbor for dinner.

Tuesday, Day 2: Island Exploration & Whale Watching

After breakfast we’ll drive to the British Camp, a National Park with reconstructed buildings left over from the “Pig War.” We’ll  explore the blockhouse, parade grounds and soldier’s quarters as well as  hike up Mt Young. From the summit (an easy half hour walk) you’ll have expansive views of the Canadian San Juans and Vancouver Island. Picnic lunch at the park. We then drive into Friday Harbor for an afternoon of whale watching on a commercial boat. After the boat tour we’ll stop in at the Whale Museum and then have dinner in town.

Wednesday, Day 3: Overnight Paddle to Jones Island

After a thorough safety and paddling orientation we’ll load our kayaks. Looking to the east of our put-in site affords spectacular views of MT Baker and the Cascade Mountains. We’ll be paddling our way northward through San Juan Channel which separates San Juan Island and Shaw. After paddling for an hour or two we’ll stop for a leisurely lunch keeping a sharp eye out for harbor seals and bald eagles.

After lunch we’ll paddle among forested, rocky islands including Shaw, Low and McConnel Islands. Our destination for the night is Jones Island – noted for its beautiful pebble pocket beaches and campsites. Jones is only accessible by boat. Our waterside campsite is nestled in a clump of red barked Madronas. After camp is set up, your guides will prepare dinner. Our cuisine includes smoked salmon fetuccine, garlic bread, locally grown organic salad greens and, of course, our dynamite Dutch oven apple crisp. After dinner you may want to walk around the perimeter of Jones or take advantage of the sunset from the west side.

Thursday, Day 4: Paddle back to San Juan Island

We start our day with a hearty breakfast of French toast, fresh fruit and steaming cups of our organic, shade grown freshly brewed coffee (or tea.) After breakfast we break camp and bid adieu to Jones.

A short paddle brings us to Yellow Island “the centerpiece of the Conservancy’s marine conservation efforts in the San Juans.” The resident Nature Conservancy steward, Phil Green, who has lived on Yellow for 12 years, will be our guide as we explore this exceptional jewel of the San Juans.

We’ll kayak across San Juan Channel and work our way southward along the scenic and partially uninhabited east side of San Juan Island. We reach our take-out around 2 PM and get back to the States Inn for welcome showers and our last dinner in Friday Harbor.

Friday, Day 5: Ferry and Travel Home

Next morning you’ll enjoy your last breakfast before boarding the ferry and your return to Anacortes and the mainland.

Quick Trip Facts

Travel: Flying into Seattle? Most guests take a shuttle van from Seattle to Anacortes & then the ferry to San Juan Island.

Meeting Place & Time, Day 1: Meet at 9:30 AM at the States Inn B and B Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Return Place & Time, Day 5: After breakfast we transport you to the ferry in Friday Harbor and your ride back to the mainland

Lodging: Three nights lodging at the States Inn B & B and one night camping
Luggage: The States Inn will store any luggage/gear you don’t want to take with you while on the kayak portion of the tour.

Gear You’ll Need: Water bottle, sunglasses and/or hat, sunscreen, appropriate kayak and camp clothing & footwear (preferably not cotton or denim – quick-dry, synthetic and/or athletic layers work best, and extra layers are always recommended; Chacos, Tevas, Crocs and water socks are great foot wise for paddling, and extra tennis shoes for camp), sleeping bag & pad.

We Provide: Kayaks & all related gear, tent, large & small dry bags, tasteful cuisine, transportation between Friday Harbor and our launch location; *sleeping bag & pad available for rent.

Age Requirements: Since our kayak tours are held in a region with variable weather, tidal, and current conditions, we cannot for safety reasons take young children on trips. Our recommended minimum age is 12 years for any kayak tours in the San Juan Islands. If you have questions or concerns regarding trips with children under the age of 12, please contact us directly for more information.

Cancellations: Please refer to our Terms & Conditions for further information.

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