View overlooking Haro Strait with Vancouver Island in the distance.

Absolutely terrific from beginning to end. The staff flexed to last minute changes without a blink and everyone had smiles the whole trip! Great story telling and knowledge from the drive out to the put-in to information about the scores of whales we saw. Very safety and environmentally conscious.

An absolute must recommend!

transportation from seattle to the san juan islands

How do I get up to the San Juan Islands from Seattle?

You have a number of different travel options. The majority of our guests take a shuttle van that leaves right from Sea Tac airport 8-9 times a day and transports you to the Anacortes ferry terminal, which is about a two and a half drive. At the terminal it is simply a matter of purchasing a round trip walk-on ticket to Friday Harbor, which will cost around $12.00 per person. The other method many of our guests use to get up to the island is to fly. There are commercial flights leaving from Sea Tac airport as well as seaplane flights. When you sign up for a trip we’ll e-mail you all the travel details you’ll need to arrange your transportation. Visit our Travel page for more information.

enjoy our dutch oven camp cuisine

Are guide gratuities expected?

Outdoor Odysseys sea kayak guides strive to make each kayak expedition unique, fun, and safe for every client. We ensure that our guides are efficient, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. If you feel your guide did an exceptional job and made your time on the water more enjoyable feel free to express your thanks with a tip. Tipping is not expected, but it is greatly appreciated by your guides. General rule of thumb for the service industry is 10-15 percent.

san juan island shore

Are showers available?

Unfortunately, there are no showers available at the campsites we use. On the positive side, if you’ve never kayaked before you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you do not get as dirty and sweaty as you would backpacking. There are public showers located in Friday Harbor at the end of the trip.

sea kayaking in the san juan islands

What are the camping facilities like?

We camp on various islands in the San Juan archipelago that are accessible only by boat. Our campsites are usually beautiful waterfront sites. The campsites are administered by the Washington State Parks Department. All the sites have picnic tables, fire pits, potable water and outhouses.

kayak trip camp cuisine

I pretty much eat vegetarian…will that be a problem?

No worries. We don’t serve red meat or chicken in any of the delicious camp cuisine served on our trips. We do have one entree where smoked salmon is utilized. One lunch has canned tuna and another has deli-turkey sandwiches. In all cases other food is readily available. If you are a total vegan or require a gluten free diet, let us know in advance and we can easily accommodate your needs. If you are an especially picky eater or have extreme food allergies you are welcome to bring some of your own foods to supplement ours.

wildlife on a san juan islands sea kayaking trip

I’m single….How does that work if I come by myself?

Our kayak groups typically include a mixture of both single guests and couples. We’ll pair you up with another single guest or if there is an odd number of people on the trip you may paddle with one of our kayak guides.

group of sea kayakers

What is the average group size of your kayak trips?

On average our group sizes tend to be around 6 – 7 guests per tour. On our day trips if we get above 9 participants we will add another guide and start another trip. On our overnight tours if we get more than 9 guests we will add another guide. We won’t take out more than 12 guests (6 doubles) on our overnight tours. The exception to this is our “custom” tours where we can take larger numbers of groups for special events such as school groups, corporate functions, wedding parties, reunions or whatever the occasion.

kayaking by lime kiln lighthouse

How far do we kayak every day?

It varies, but figure an average of 7-10 miles per day with 12 miles the maximum we paddle in one day. Our tours are geared for novices and intermediate paddlers, so we’re not out there to make “mega-miles.” We also have a lot of flexibility in our tours giving participants the option of going for a hike, an evening paddle, or simply lounging around in camp.

Walking on Stuart Island, San Juan Islands, Washington

What sort of things will I learn about the area ecology and wildlife?

One of our primary goals at Outdoor Odysseys is to raise awareness about the unique character and importance of the Salish Sea and the San Juan Islands. The breadth of knowledge held by the diverse staff at Outdoor Odysseys ranges from marine biology, zoology, and geology, to environmental science, policy, and environmental education. Their colorful experiences and backgrounds combined with their own outdoor play, overseas travel and work make them amazing naturalists and just plain good company! What happens when you put them all together paddling at the same time? Well, let’s just say that I wish you the best of luck in getting a word in edgewise!

wildlife on a san juan islands sea kayaking trip

What kind of wildlife will we see on a San Juan Islands sea kayak trip?

It may be easier to list what you won’t see. Some of the more common wildlife sightings include minke whales, Dall’s porpoises, harbor porpoises, harbor seals, and river otters. In terms of birds, the San Juans are host to the second largest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Other birds include terns, gulls, ducks, various alcids, and a host of others. In addition last summer we were lucky enough to have sightings of gray whales, a young humpback whale, pilot whales, elephant seals and California sea lions.

beginning kayakers on a san juan island sea kayaking trip

I have never kayaked before, is that going to be a problem?

No experience is necessary! Beginners are welcome on all of our Eagles & Orcas tours. Your safety is our number one priority. We use very stable double kayaks that tend to be wider and much more stable than single kayaks. We employ mature, seasoned guides who will give you a very thorough on-land orientation before you start your trip. You will learn the basics of kayak paddling including how to steer and fit the boat. We won’t get on the water until everybody feels comfortable with ocean kayaking techniques. Throughout your kayak trip, your guide is always there to give you pointers and assist you with your paddling skills. We also don’t have surf zones to contend with in the San Juan Islands. Vancouver Island directly to the west of San Juan Island serves as a ‘buffer’ for the Pacific Ocean waves and surf – which is one reason why the San Juan Islands are one of the premier kayak destinations in North America. Another important consideration is that our tours don’t venture very far from the coastline. It really isn’t necessary, as the wildlife tends to concentrate along the rich habitat found where we operate our tours.

orca whales in the san juan islands

When is the best time to see whales in the San Juan Islands?

The southern resident pods of Orca whales currently number over 80 individually identified whales in three separate pods. They are generally found in the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands between May and October when salmon, their primary prey, come from the ocean to spawn in either the Fraser River or the rivers of the Puget Sound. Late May, June and early July is the best month for seeing these magnificent creatures. However, mid to late July, August and September can also provide great opportunities for seeing Orcas. Last year the Orcas were making semi-regular appearances through mid-October. Ya never know…..

sea kayaking in the san juan islands

When is the best time of year for kayaking in the San Juan Islands?

It depends to some extent on what you’re looking for. Late May, June and early July is considered the best time for seeing orca whales. The islands are less crowded then, but offer greater probabilities of getting variable weather. July and August generally offer the best weather in terms of less precipitation. The downside is that there is usually more boat traffic. My personal favorite is the month of September. Paddling after Labor Day offers fewer people, the weather is usually still good and you generally have your pick of campsites.

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