Here are a few reasons you will love this popular trip:
- Calm water, beautiful San Juan Islands scenery.
- Lots of seals, porpoises, bald eagles, and other exciting wildlife.
- Great for beginners and families.
The calmer waters on the north-side of San Juan Island provide habitat for a variety of interesting wildlife. Your kayaking route will take you near Battleship Island, a national wildlife refuge and home to a dense population of harbor seals. In thick kelp forests, you’ll find many interesting sea creatures that hide here. Bald eagles keep watch from the shoreline trees and the sharp chatter of kingfishers fill the air. (Due to the relaxing pace of these trips and unpredictable movement of whales we cannot actively seek out whale encounters. Any sightings are up to the whales themselves.)
Departing from a quaint historic resort, you begin your trip in a beautiful place. Historic buildings on the hillside provide a scenic backdrop to the modern yachts in the marina. As you leave the harbor you are treated to wild views into the Canadian Gulf Islands and the outer San Juan Islands. The protected northwest side of San Juan Island provides warm and quiet marine air filled with an intoxicating fragrance of evergreen trees and sea life. On San Juan Island, there is no place more peaceful than here.
No Experience Necessary
Like all of our tours, this 3-hour sea kayaking trip requires no paddling experience. Your professional guide will take care of the details so that you can relax and enjoy the trip. Our 3-Hour Trips are comfortable and fun outings. The goal is not to cover vast territory, but rather to move slowly and take in your surroundings. After all, the slower you go, the more you will see!
For your comfort and security, we custom-designed special sea kayak docks that make entering and exiting our kayaks almost effortless. The first few minutes of this kayak tour are in the bathtub-like conditions of the marina. This allows folks who have never been sea kayaking before to settle in and get comfortable in the kayak.
There is something new around every corner on this kayaking tour. Our knowledgeable kayak guides are always on the lookout for seals, eagles, porpoise, and any other marine wildlife that may be passing by.
Although we pride ourselves on not making unreasonable claims in regards to sea kayaking with Orca whales, this trip presents opportunities to see whales and many of the other creatures that call the San Juan Islands home.
Every day is different, but one thing is certain, you will enjoy your experience of kayaking in one of the most outstanding places in Washington State.
Meeting Place and Time for San Juan Island 3-Hour Trips
If you are driving your own vehicle and meeting directly at Roche harbor for your 3-Hour Trip, please follow these directions to Roche Harbor Resort and meet us at the Marine Activities Center kayak docks 30 minutes prior to your trip departure.
FYI: If you drive onto the San Juan Ferry then we recommend arriving at the Anacortes ferry terminal at least 2 hours early if you have no reservation. If you have a reservation then you need to be at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes prior to sailing time. Reservations are highly recommended to ensure that you make your sailing.
If you are walking onto the ferry then there is a complimentary shuttle from Friday Harbor that will pick you up at at the Memorial Circle on the corner of Front St and Spring St in Friday Harbor. Please be there approximately 30-60 mins before your trip is set to depart. (Look for the white Gazebo furniture.)
Please check out the Washington State Ferry Schedule to ensure you make it to the ferry on time. We recommend that you arrive 30 minutes early to the San Juan Island Ferry terminal in order to ensure you won’t miss your trip.
If you decide to change your mind and drive onto the ferry then please let us know so that we can cancel your seat on the shuttle. Thank you!
This trip usually departs from the marina and heads out into the open waters of Speiden Channel before kayaking out to the west side of Henry Island. When conditions permit, your guide will lead you down to a favorite place that we call “seal rock”. As you might guess, this rock is often covered with dozens of seals and their pups. You may see bald eagles in this area as there has been an active nest nearby for years. After relaxing in the quiet water you will begin your return along the same route.
Take in fantastic views of Canada, the outer San Juan Islands, and Battleship Island as you glide past kelp beds and offshore reefs. Beautiful summer homes on Henry Island will have you dreaming about an uncomplicated island life. After approximately three hours you’ll find yourself steering your boat back into the slips of the custom kayak docks where you started the trip. Your guide will assist you out of the boats and would be happy to give you local tips on other activities that you might not want to miss if you are staying on the island. If you need to get back to the mainland then a shuttle will be able to return you to the Friday Harbor ferry terminal.
**The exact direction you and your guides will choose to take is often dictated by the prevailing conditions. Your guides know this place intimately and will attempt to take you on the easiest route possible, using the tidal currents to your advantage whenever they can. Some trips may alter the route due to prevailing conditions. This description is representative of the majority of our tours but kayaking on the sea is a dynamic experience that sometimes requires adjustments for your comfort.
Gear You Will Need
Dress appropriately for the weather. We like to say “as if you were going for a walk in the forest that day.” Usually this means layers, preferably non-cotton if you have the choice (no big deal if not). Summertime weather in the San Juan Islands is usually mild and so most days you will likely be fine in shorts, t-shirt, and water-compatible shoes (or old sneakers), but come prepared. Bring an extra layer, a windbreaker, and a change of clothes to leave in your car in case you get anything wet.
- Shorts or pants (non-cotton if possible)
- T-shirt (long or short sleeved, non-cotton if possible)
- Extra layer: fleece/wool sweater/synthetic insulating layer
- Light rain-jacket or windbreaker
- Shoes you don’t mind getting wet (flip flops are okay)
- Sunglasses (important)
- Baseball cap or sun hat with chin strap (wool or fleece hat if it is chilly)
- Light snack for on the water (candy bar, granola bar, GORP, etc.)
- Water bottle (very important, 1 liter per person at least)
- Protective case for any devices
- Any appropriate medications that you might need
Anacortes Kayak Tours will provide
- All kayaking gear (boat, paddles, spray decks, life jackets)
- A professionally trained and fun guide, with a comprehensive safety kit
- Dry bags for your personal gear
If you have younger kids (under 12) then please call before making a reservation.
We’ve found that most kids younger than three years old have a difficult time sitting in a kayak for the duration of the trip. Some older children may also need to move around more. As parents you know your children’s capabilities better than anyone, but feel free to call us if you have concerns. Also, you’ll be paddling with your child, either by yourself in a tandem kayak or with another member of your family in a triple kayak, with your child in the center seat. Alone in a tandem means that there will be more work involved and you may need to consider your physical strength.
Anacortes Kayak Tours prides itself on being the most family-friendly kayaking company in the San Juan Islands. We consider your kids to be an investment in the future and we want to get them out on the water and developing an active lifestyle and an appreciation of the natural world!
That being said, kids under 12 are best suited for private trips for better group dynamics and safety on the water.
For your safety and comfort, we have a weight limit of 265 pounds (per person) in tandems. Call if you have any questions.
Health / Physical Limits
Our #1 priority is to bring you home safely. In the unlikely event of a capsize we need to know that you are physically capable of keeping your face above the water, that you are able in some fashion to assist with the rescue, and that your heart can take the stress of the immersion and exertion of an unplanned accident. If you think that you may be at risk, or that your health conditions are of concern then please talk to your physician and then give us a call. We’d love to try and help you find a solution, and if possible to get you out on the water.
Deafness and blindness will not prevent you from enjoying our tours, but please let us know at the time of booking.
If you have health issues on the day of your trip, please pull your guide aside and let him or her know. This includes even small issues (like diarrhea) that can turn a great trip into a problem for you. Our guides can then plan the trip accordingly.
For 1-4 people we require 48 hours notice for cancellations. Groups of 5-9 people - one week, 10+ please enquire.) Please refer to our Cancellation Policy page for details.
We enjoy about 250 days of sunshine per year, mostly in the summer. Even when it does sprinkle on us it rarely lasts more than a few minutes. We won’t cancel for rain.
The only weather that will cancel a trip is windy weather that causes hazardous sea conditions. Your comfort and safety are our biggest concern.
A Few Rules–Please Read!
- No Smoking in the kayaks on these trips. This is a safety concern for us, many people get seasick after being exposed to cigarette/cigar smoke.
- Please do not litter. Pack out everything that you pack in.
- Sorry, no dogs. We like them, but they tend to tear the heck out of the boats, can disrupt the enjoyment of other guests, and can also create safety concerns.
- Your guide needs you to follow their instructions. Please respect this.
- Respect the wildlife who make the San Juan Islands their home. We give the whales plenty of space when they are around, we try not to frighten seals that are hauled out on the rocks, that sort of thing. Your guide will explain this more out on the water.
And at last, The Fine Print
We strive to make sure that we are being entirely open and honest with our marketing language and also when we speak to people about what our trips are like. We’ve been burned before on our travels and we never want to be remembered as a disingenuous company when you’re reminiscing with your friends later.
To assist us in placing you on the most appropriate trip please let us know if you have any special requests, concerns, or expectations when you call. That will allow us to either recommend the best trip for your needs or at least to give you a proper explanation about what we can realistically accomplish for you.
What Our Clients Say
Very relaxed and nice pace
We had a wonderful trip. Blake was a great guide. Very relaxed and nice pace. The side trip to the lighthouse was magical, and nice to get out and stretch. You do a good job of getting people out on the water safely and comfortably. The equipment was top notch. Well done!!! We will let friends know about the great… Read more “Very relaxed and nice pace”
Made our first experience memorable
We were on our first kayak tour today with Andy and Leslie at 9am. What a great experience! Our 9 and 5-year-old daughters can’t stop talking about what they saw and the fun they had kayaking. Just wanted you to know that Andy and Leslie were fantastic and made our first experience memorable. Please send our thanks again to Andy… Read more “Made our first experience memorable”
Tremendous value for the money
Fantastic trip! Pete and Alex were fantastic! They were both knowledgeable and professional. The trip was a tremendous value for the money; great food and top-notch equipment! Thank you so much! Please thank Pete and Alex again for me.
Thank you so much for adding the 5 hour trip
I want to thank you so much for adding the 5 hour trip on Friday. I know that you went out of your way to accommodate me. I deeply appreciate it. I had a wonderful time with your two guides—James and Alex. James knew where to look to see all the wildlife at just the right moments. We saw seals,… Read more “Thank you so much for adding the 5 hour trip”
Truly was a trip of a lifetime!
I just wanted to thank you for arranging an incredible kayak trip for my sister and I — it truly was a trip of a lifetime! Peter was an incredible guide who was so helpful and informative plus we were blessed with amazing wildlife to watch and perfect weather. It could not have been better.
Tour was everything your website promised and more
I just wanted to let you know that the tour was everything your website promised and more. We saw bald eagles, harbor seals, purple starfish, anemones, water, sky, interesting geology and more. We tasted two kinds of kelp, learned about tide runs, skipped stones into the ocean, and met a fascinating young guide. What a great day! I wish you… Read more “Tour was everything your website promised and more”
Burrows Island Tour was fantastic!
Yesterday evening’s Burrows Island Tour was fantastic! I’m so glad I’ve already signed up for a tour tomorrow, too. I was impressed by everything—the scenery (of course, but I expected that); our guide, Wayne; and the quality of the equipment. I felt totally confident and comfortable, although it was my first time in a kayak and I hate swimming! I… Read more “Burrows Island Tour was fantastic!”
We look forward to going on the longer kayak tour
Thank you for a wonderful kayak experience to Burrows Island last Saturday. We look forward to going on the longer kayak tour on our next trip to Anacortes. Wayne did a wonderful job as our guide and “safety net.”
John and Kaye
We’re psyched about our trip! Thanks, you have been very helpful. Your web site rocks.
Great first-time sea kayaking experience
Just wanted to let you know what a great first-time sea kayaking experience you provided for my husband and I yesterday. We had a great time. Your approach was professional, knowledgeable, friendly and most of all…fun! Our kudos to Dave as well. As guides, you compliment each other very well. Your attention to detail and the fact that you provide… Read more “Great first-time sea kayaking experience”
Kim and Dan
We really enjoyed our trip.
Thank you again for taking the 3 of us sea kayaking a couple of weeks ago. We really enjoyed our trip. I look forward to going kayaking with you in the future. By the way, my parents will be in Seattle in about two weeks. I gave them your brochure and recommended them to you.
…Your expertise, hard work, and generosity
On behalf of all of the Entirenet guests visiting Decatur Island this past weekend, please allow me to offer our deepest appreciation for all of your help in making our day on Decatur a resounding success! Everyone enjoyed the kayaking tours. I personally compliment you on getting the baby seals and eagles to cooperate. 🙂 Only with your expertise, hard… Read more “…Your expertise, hard work, and generosity”
Thanks for making our fifth anniversary so cool
Thanks so much for another great kayaking trip! Our group had an awesome time, we could not have asked for a better adventure. We will be seeing you again soon. Thanks for making our fifth anniversary so cool.
Jason and Sarah
An incredibly perfect day!
All I can say is, what an incredibly perfect day! The only flaw was that it was over *way* too soon. I will definitely be back for another Outer islands kayaking trip. In any case, please keep me posted on any multi-day trips you plan for next summer.