Sea Kayaking Tours on San Juan Island

A typical sea kayaking tour will put you in a safe and stable kayak and guide you out along the jagged shores of San Juan Island.

Beaching the kayaks for lunch on the west side of San Juan Island.

Beaching the kayaks for lunch on the west side of San Juan Island. Photo: Crystal Seas Kayaking.

You will get a bit of exercise, observe diverse marine life, have a snack on a pebble beach, and see snowcapped mountains, soaring eagle, and incredible heartwarming sunsets. No special fitness levels or previous experience is necessary to enjoy one of these self powered vessels.

Some will see bald eagles and porpoises, others will see stellar sea lions, blue Heron, and black oyster catchers. If you're lucky a super pod of orca whales will surface off your kayak's bow.

Kayaking along the west side of San Juan Island.

Kayaking along the west side of San Juan Island. Photo: Jason's kayaking blog.

First-time kayakers need only a short sea kayaking tour to discover why the Puget Sound and specifically the coves, beaches, and straits of the San Juan Islands have become a world renowned kayaking destination.

Returning visitors already familiar with the magic of sea kayaking may treat themselves to a multi-day island hopping odyssey. These multi-day tours will take you to remote state parks, secluded beaches, and unforgettable campsites. Some tours begin and end under the stars at campgrounds and other tours guide you from one charming bed and breakfast to another.

In the interest of safety all kayaking tour outfitters use high quality and stable equipment and all guides are trained to handle all types of situations and weather conditions that can be encountered.

It is the job of your guide to provide a short safety and equipment lesson before getting out on the water. Once you're out it is their job as naturalists to explain why the San Juan Island's unique geology and climate are instrumental in fostering the diverse ecosystem it has become.

Two bald eagles take in the afternoon sun.  Cattle Point, San Juan Island.

Two bald eagles take in the afternoon sun. Cattle Point, San Juan Island. Photo: Crystal Seas Kayaking.

Fascinating creatures such as black oyster catchers, great blue heron, bald eagle, Minke whale, orca whale, gray whale, pilot whale, Dalls porpoise, harbor porpoise, harbor seal, river otter, tern, elephant seal, California sea lion, jumping salmon, alcid, starfish, barnicle, Dungeness crab, and many more life forms can be observed throughout the San Juan Islands.

Tandem sea kayaking at sunrise.

Tandem sea kayaking at sunrise. Photo: Jason's kayaking blog.

Various sea kayaking tours visit the following points of interest: Stuart Island, Sucia Island, light houses, Posey Island, Mosquito Pass, Roche Harbor, Henry Island, Pearl Island, Jackson's Beach, Turn Island, Griffin Bay, San Juan County Park, Snug Harbor, Garrison Bay, Lime Kiln State Park, South Beach, Dead Man's Bay, and many more.

Kayaking off of Lime Kiln Point, San Juan Island.

The Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, a.k.a. Whale Watch Park. Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island. Photo: Jason's kayaking blog.

The word "kayak" actually means "man's boat" or "hunter's boat." Kayaks were created by the indigenous population of the Arctic for hunting on oceans, lakes and rivers. As far as we know the first kayaks were made from animal skins stretched out over a wooden frame of collected driftwood. Archaeologists believe they have found kayaks over 4000 years old. These sealskin kayaks are still being built and used today for hunting by Inuit people in Greenland.

Please feel free to post your questions or previous experiences about kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands on this message board dedicated to the islands.

Please note that most of the kayaking tour companies only operate during the summer months. Make sure to bring along your sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and wear layered clothing. While it is not uncommon to see orca whales while on a kayak tour there is no company that can guarantee it. If you just want to see the whales your best bet is to select a reputable whale watching tour outfitter.

Recommended books about kayaking in the islands:

Here is a full list of sea kayaking tour companies in the San Juan Islands.

Background photo courtesy of Jason's kayaking blog.

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