This kayaking expedition departs from the west side of San Juan Island and travels north to the gorgeous marine parks of Stuart Island or Jones Island. Harbor seals and Dall’s porpoises and other marine mammals abound in these waters, and you are sure to encounter them along the way. Eagles nest in the forested slopes of nearby islands, and a host of seabirds can be seen foraging in the tidal currents.
The journey to your island campground passes through one of the most scenic landscapes in Washington State. The Canadian Gulf Islands rise peacefully from the sea and the remote Outer San Juan Islands beckon you onward. Once you are in camp be sure to take time to walk out to Lover’s Leap for Stuart Island’s best sunset views, or search for rare cactus plants on Jones Island as the evening light paints the Canadian sky.
Like all of our fully-catered overnight kayaking trips, this 3-Day kayaking adventure will be a gastronomic delight! Your guides take a lot of pride in providing delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners throughout your tour. Snacks and hot drinks are also provided whenever you like. Our hope is to exceed your expectations when it comes to the food we serve. We understand that the one thing that you are sure to remember is whether the food was good. As the owners of the company we personally see to the creation of each meal plan on our multi-day camping expeditions. We source most of our food from local organic farms here in the Skagit and Samish River valleys, and use the freshest seasonal ingredients possible in all of our dishes. We are also happy to accommodate any special dietary needs upon request.
This is a true expedition camping experience! Once you depart from San Juan Island you will be entirely self-sufficient, carrying all that you need in your kayaks. Your camp areas are only accessible by sea, have running water, and composting toilets for your convenience. On these 3-day trips we often camp in the same camp area for both nights in order to maximize your kayaking and relaxation time.
No Experience Necessary!
Like all of our kayak tours, this one requires no previous paddling experience. Our fun and professional guides will take care of the details so that you can relax and enjoy yourself.
It should be noted that the 3-Day trips from San Juan Island are our most physically demanding. We recommend that you be in moderate physical condition before you embark on this adventure.
What is included (Fully Catered package*):
- Professional guiding service.
- All of your kayaking equipment (boats, paddles, lifejackets, dry bags, etc).>
- All meals (from lunch on Day One to Lunch on Day Three) plus snacks, hot drinks, and limited cold drink mixes. Please feel free to bring your own alcohol of choice.
- Cooking Equipment.
- Complimentary insulated travel mug to take home with you afterwards!
- All camping equipment including tents, insulated Thermarest sleeping pads.
- All land use permits/fees.
- The best customer service support in the industry.
Please check our packing list carefully to make sure that you have the appropriate gear. If you plan to bring any of your own equipment then please let us know prior to arrival so that we do not bring unnecessary duplicates.
*Self-Catered package includes everything above, except food, cooking equipment, travel mug, and camping equipment.
What is not included:
- Flights, airport transfers, taxis, transportation to launch site.
- Travel/Medical insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Sleeping bags .
- Rain Gear
- Personal Items (toiletries, clothing, headlamps, etc.)
Sleeping bags can be rented for $35/trip if you prefer to travel without one. Please reserve these in advance to ensure that we have one ready for you, can also be reserved at the time of booking.
About The Area:
You will gain quite an appreciation and understanding of the labyrinthine waterways of the San Juan Islands on this trip. Choosing a one-way itinerary allows you to cover new territory with every stroke of the paddle, unveiling new shorelines that you otherwise would be unable to explore on just one trip.
The west side of the San Juan Islands has long been a popular place for sea kayaking. It is located on Haro Strait which is also the border between the United States and Canada. You will be treated to fantastic views into the Canadian Gulf Islands as you navigate your way through the wildlife-rich waters of the San Juan Islands.
The trip will also traverse the waters of Wasp Islands Group, a cluster of nine little islands that are mostly undeveloped, supremely beautiful, and have attracted sailors and visitors for over two hundred years. Traveling through the heart of the islands allows you to be in the most protected waters of the San Juan Islands. You’ll float past beautiful historical farms and private vacation homes, and the San Juan Island ferries will often be in view as they carry islanders and visitors to their various destinations.
On the last days of your trip you will enter the islands of Rosario Strait, the principal waterway in this part of the San Juan Islands. A hotbed of activity for many kinds of wildlife. There are many National Wildlife Refuges here, and the Cypress Island Reserve with its unbroken forested slopes dominates the scene. The abundance of seals and porpoises on this side of the San Juan Islands is the likely cause for the recent explosion in numbers of Transient Orca whales here.
Five days of travel, five days of ever-changing scenery, and no reason at all to backtrack. There is a good reason why this is becoming the most popular 5-Day kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands!
Our San Juan Island 3-Day trip is the perfect fit for the ambitious traveler. Logistics include taking a ferry out to San Juan Island and then hopping on a complimentary shuttle to take you across San Juan Island to the launch site. Being moderately fit will help you to enjoy this trip because this trip requires a longer distance kayaking (approximately 12 miles) to reach the camp areas. If you exercise regularly and enjoy a more active experience then this trip will be the right fit. If you have any questions or concerns then be sure to contact us.
For San Juan Island 3-Day kayak expedition we recommend that you park your vehicle at the Anacortes ferry terminal. With a vehicle, you will need to make advance reservations. Be advised that the ferry schedule can often be disrupted in the summer months so try not to plan other things too tightly after the tour in case there are any delays.
Your shuttle will deliver you to the San Juan Island County Park where your guide will be ready to welcome you. After packing the kayaks, and a safety briefing, you will be ready to launch!
Launch from San Juan Island County Park, or Roche Harbor, and head north in Haro Strait.
You will be covering approximately 12 miles today, so you can expect to be paddling for 6+ hours, depending on the currents. There should be ample opportunities to take breaks on the beach during this time, including a stop for lunch.
After arriving at the camp your guide will assist you in setting up your tent and organizing the rest of your campsite. Now it is time to relax, this will be home for the next few days!
While on the beach you are free to explore the trails on your own or accompany your guide on a walk if you prefer. Later in the afternoon, your guide will be busy preparing a delicious dinner for you to enjoy. This is another great opportunity to go for a walk or just relax on the beach with a glass of wine, watching the evening light coloring the sky.
After a hearty breakfast your guide will talk with you about the day’s paddling options. We rarely have a set plan for this day, so feel free to talk about what you are hoping to see and do. Our guides love to try and tailor every trip to meet their guest's expectations. We have found that most people are happy with about 5-6 hours of paddling, with relaxing breaks wherever possible. Lunch is almost always prepared in the field, away from camp, so bring all that you need for the day. It should be mentioned that occasionally some people prefer not to paddle at all and would rather spend the day relaxing in camp or walking on the trails. That is fine with us, you will just need to communicate with your guide so that they can prepare a lunch for you ahead of time.(Note: we cannot allow you to paddle without a guide present, so if they leave with the rest of the group then you will not be able to join them until they return.)
After returning from the day’s adventure it is time for….you guessed it….more relaxation! Go for another walk, skip stones, or simply sit at the water’s edge and contemplate the beauty around you, while your guide is busy preparing your next delicious dinner. (As you can tell, these guides work hard for their tips!)
Greet your final morning of camping with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the birds singing. After breakfast, you and your guide will talk about the best route home before taking down your camp and packing the boats for the last time.
Lunch will usually be another beach break somewhere along the route home.
Depending on the route you take, and the conditions of the day, you will likely return back to San Juan Island County Park sometime between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. The exact return time is difficult to predict because so many factors are involved with this sort of travel experience. We recommend that you do not schedule things too tightly just in case the weather or some other variable slows you down along the way.
After unpacking your kayak and saying farewell to your guide a shuttle will come to pick you up and return you to the San Juan Island Ferry Terminal where you can catch the next boat home.
**This is a sample itinerary which outlines the type of experience that most often happens. Due to the dynamic nature of outdoor adventures, things can sometimes change without notice. We work very hard to provide the best possible experience for each of our guests so if you have any special needs or concerns, or any particular expectation that you have, then please do call us so that we can talk to you more about it. Thank you!
What trip offers the best chances of a whale sighting?
This is probably the most popular question that we hear on the phone. The best answer is “it is impossible to predict”. Kayaks simply do not travel fast enough to manifest a whale encounter on purpose. Our guests have always appreciated that we set reasonable expectations about whale encounters. If seeing a whale is a primary goal for you then we suggest that you book an additional trip with a whale watch company. They have fast-moving boats which can seek out the whales’ locations on any given day. Kayak trips and whale watch outings are actually very complementary and will give you the best possible experience in the San Juan Islands.
I have never tried sea kayaking before, how do I know whether I can do this?
These kayak tours are designed for people with little or no previous experience who enjoy an active experience. We like to call this activity “soft adventure” because the tours are loaded with fun (without too much adrenaline)! The goal is to move quietly through the landscape, enjoying the views while rewarding the body with a little bit of easy exercise. All of our tours will move as slowly as necessary to ensure that you won’t get too worn out. Our guides are very competent paddlers, and well-trained trip leaders, they will worry about the details so that you can relax and enjoy yourself. If you have any specific concerns then please call us so that we can make sure that you get placed on the most enjoyable trip possible.
What is the difference between an All Inclusive Package and a Self-Catered Package?
The only difference between these two packages is that in the All Inclusive Package we provide your camping gear and your meals. Here in the outdoorsy Pacific Northwest a large number of our guests possess their own camping equipment and prefer to use it. We have responded to this reality by creating an option that saves them some money and allows them use the gear that they have already invested in. On all trips we will provide the kayaking equipment, and the same exceptional guide service that our guests have come to expect from Anacortes Kayak Tours.
What if it rains?
As the saying goes; “there is no such thing as bad weather, just unfortunate clothing choices.” Joking aside, we are very fortunate that we live in the “rainshadow” of the Olympic Mountains and consequently we receive much less precipitation than Seattle and the rest of Western Washington State. Don’t rely on Seattle weather reports to tell you what it will be like up here because we are in a very different climate zone. What little rain falls in the summer rarely lasts for too long and it usually creates some of the most beautiful kayak trips of the season as the muted colors of the Pacific Northwest come alive with the moisture. We won’t cheat you out of the experience because of a little rain, bring a rain-jacket or borrow one of ours and come to enjoy the show!
Can I paddle in a single kayak?
Yes! We have a limited number of single kayaks available to reserve. Check out our info on single kayaks for Multi-Day trips. We are currently the only outfitter in the San Juan Islands to be able to offer this option. The superior training and skill levels of our guides allow us to make this type of experience available to our guests.
What’s the weight limit for paddling in a kayak?
265 lbs for double kayaks and 225 lbs for single kayaks. We have found that these weights are generally the limits for your comfort and enjoyment of the activity.
What is your policy on tipping?
Your guides work very hard to keep your party safe while also supporting an atmosphere that is entertaining. Gratuities are always appreciated with the average tip being 10 percent of the total trip cost, with some guests tipping more and some less, depending on your experience.
What Our Clients Say
Thanks for the magical day at Sucia Island. We are still savoring the moments. What a place! The Wendell Berry quote fits… The world lives in the death of speech, and sings there Your guide Dave was such a pleasant pathfinder for us. And a big appreciation to the Anacortes Kayak Tours owners who provided us with this trip. We… Read more “Magical day at Sucia Island”
Sue and Tom
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.
I just wanted to say “Thanks” for a wonderful day of Kayaking yesterday around Cypress Island. For 4–5 years we have been doing a yearly outing of a guided kayak trip and found your group to be the most organized, friendly and well equipped so far. Your kayaks, life vests and spray skirts were by far the best, driest and… Read more “A first-class organization”
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.
I want to thank you both for providing us such a wonderful and memorable experience kayaking last week. Andrew, Matt, and I had a fabulous time. Megan — thank you in particular for the fine shopping and meal planning. The boys and I were joking that we ate better during the trip than we did at home the past 2… Read more “A wonderful and memorable experience kayaking”
Pete, Matt, and Andrew Noone
I just returned home from an amazing kayak vacation with you folks, and I’m dreading a return to real life tomorrow. My head is still full of the San Juans and I wish that I could have stayed out for another day, or ten. I did quite a bit of research before booking the trip and your company stood out… Read more “Next time — five-day trip!”
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.
Just wanted to let you know how pleased we were with the tour to Cypress Island (Sept. 2008). Freddie and Peter were great guides. They were extremely friendly and cheerful, and very well qualified to lead us. What made it especially nice was that both Freddie and Peter related well to both us old fogies as well as the younger… Read more “They were intent on spoiling us”
Cynthia Dietz and Susan Larsen
Thanks so much for a memorable 2 days in the San Juans! We thoroughly enjoyed every moment, though our shoulders and backs indicated that we should’ve done a better job getting in paddling shape beforehand! You could not have tailor-made a menu more suitable for our family (down to the s’mores!) nor have given us a better guide/chef/friend for the… Read more “A memorable 2 days in the San Juans”
Melinda Y. Ching, Senior Attorney-Asia Pacific/Hawaii The Nature Conservancy
Thank you for everything. Our meeting went like Swiss clockwork from start to finish thanks to you and your amazing guides. I simply can’t say enough good things about those four to do justice to the subtle but stout job they did on our trip. We felt completely safe, the food was nothing short of spectacular (and always right on… Read more “What customer service can and should be”
I just got back from a wonderful trip to Sucia with my husband and another couple. We had a great time with Jeremiah, our guide. We were amazed by the scenery, wildlife, and the general beauty of the San Juan Islands. Jeremiah was professional but down-to-earth, and we always felt completely safe because of his degree of knowledge and experience.… Read more “Amazed by the scenery and wildlife”
Hello team at Anacortes — Wendy, Erik, Jeremiah, Gary and Megan and everyone else who helped to make our trip so special! Hey guys Roger and I are now in Juneau about to hit the mountains for a week of running and I just wanted to pause and say thank you so much for a wonderful visit to the… Read more “Thank you”
Kylie and Roger
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”
Prepare for Your Multi-day Adventure
Meeting Place and Time
For all trips to San Juan Island, take the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. A complimentary shuttle will take you from Memorial Circle (near the ferry terminal) to your launch point in San Juan County Park, where you will meet your guide.
Gear You Will Need
Every person will be assigned 2–20L dry bags and 1–10L dry bag for their gear.
The San Juan Islands have a very mild climate during the summer months. Most trips will experience temperatures around 70° F during the day, and mid-50s at night. Rain is not common, but be aware of the weather and come prepared accordingly.
- Long underwear- polypropylene or something synthetic, top and bottom
- Shorts (1 pair, preferably non-cotton)
- Pants (1 pair, preferably non-cotton)
- T-shirts (2-3 depending on the trip length)
- Sweatshirt (fleece or synthetic, cotton will not dry) or some other insulating shirt. (2)
- Underwear (enough to make you happy)
- Socks (enough to make you happy, 4 pairs should be plenty)
- Light rain jacket and rain pants
- Water compatible shoes (Tevas, Chacos, water socks, old tennis shoes, etc)
- Shoes for camp (light running or hiking shoes are great)
- Baseball cap, or a brimmed hat.
- Wool or fleece hat for camp
- Sunglasses! (You will definitely want these!)
- Two water bottles, One liter each (please fill them at the store, or before you arrive)
- Bug spray
- Headlamp or flashlight, with extra batteries.
- Book, playing cards, journal.
- Any favorite snacks (we’ll provide a lot, but you may have special preferences.)
- Small camera (bring freezer grade Zip-Loc bags to protect it, if it isn’t waterproof.)
- Personal medications, as needed, including painkillers (we have First Aid kits, but prefer to keep our medications for emergencies.)
- Allergy medications—if you are allergic to bees, please bring an epi-pen!
- Sleeping Bag must be compressible to fit into one of the 20L dry bags. (we have bags to rent for a nominal $25 cleaning fee)
- Beer or wine, if you like (for insurance reasons we cannot provide alcohol)
- A small hand towel
- Any personal items that you cannot live without during your trip.
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, usually two 20L bags and one 10L dry bag
- All camping gear (tents, sleeping pads, pillows, kitchen items, etc)
- All meals, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and hot drinks
If you have younger kids (under 12) then please call before making a reservation.
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 and 225 pounds (per person) in singles. 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.
Multi-Day Expeditions require a 50% deposit at time of booking. 60 or more days before the trip date, full refund of all payments less a $100 per person cancellation and handling fee. 31-59 days before the trip date, guests will be charged 50% of the entire trip cost. 0-30 days before the trip date, guests will be charged 100% of the entire trip cost and no refunds will be made. All cancellations must be in writing and charged amount is determined upon the date of receipt. 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.