Kayak the Marine Highway of San Juan
Kayak the wild coastline of America's San Juan archipelago for the chance to see whales and marine wildlife
3 days off work
Up to 12 people
Anacortes Ferry Terminal, Washington State
No previous paddling experience is required but the fitter you are, the more enjoyable the experience will be.
Kayak the fabled whale highway, a wildlife hotspot that’s home to porpoises, sea lions and the densest population of harbour seals in the world
Paddling in the San Juan Islands is a great opportunity to look for whales: you can scout for Orcas, Greys, Humpbacks, and Minkes
Witness perfect sunsets as you camp inside peaceful marine parks in the Wasp Islands Group
Local qualified guides, with a guest: guide ratio of 6:1
4 nights camping
Munch on tasty food throughout
All local travel
All your kayaking and camping equipment except for a sleeping bag
All taxes and licenses
Flights to and from the meeting point
Anacortes Ferry Terminal
08:00 on Day 1
Anacortes Ferry Terminal
16:00 on Day 5
Meet your host at their base located just by the Anacortes Ferry Terminal.
It is 90-minute drive from Seattle and parking is available. Due to the early start we recommend you arriving in Anacortes the day before your trip. There are some suggestions in the FAQ section for where you might want to stay.
At the end of your trip, you'll arrive back at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal between 14:00 and 16:00 depending on the conditions of the day. Please allow plenty of time for your onward journey in case of delays due to weather conditions.
There are regular, direct flights to Seattle from major airports across the US and Europe.
Seattle to Anacortes by car: Anacortes is a 90 minutes drive from Seattle. Travel via the I-5 and take Exit 230 on Highway 20. From there you can follow the signs to the Ferry Terminal where parking is available for a nominal fee.
Seattle to Anacortes by bus: The bus shuttle from Seattle Aiport departs every 2 hours and takes around 2.5 hours to the ferry terminal in Anacortes. Please have a look at the Sea-Tac (Seattle Airport) to Anacortes schedule. There are 3 drop-off points in Anacortes depending on where you're planning to stay.
Boarding the ferry: If you're travelling by car, please have your vehicle parked and be ready to board 40 minutes before the ferry departure time. Once on San Juan Island, the complimentary van shuttle will be waiting directly across the street from the ferry landing, or to your right (north) in the traffic circle just past the ice cream shop. Your host will let you know which bus stop you need before the start of the trip.
Please note that the buses depart at the specified times and do not coincide with Washington State Ferry schedules. Please allow extra time (in both directions) to ensure proper connections.
Campsite · Twin share
Day 2 – Day 4
Campsite · Twin share
What is the food like?
Much of the food on this trip is seasonal and sourced from local organic farms in the Skagit and Samish River Valleys. A quick stop will often be made at the little grocery store in the quaint Orcas Island Village to replenish stocks and help support the local community.
Vegetarian, vegan and most dietary requirements can be accommodated on the trip - please request when booking.
What is the accommodation like?
You’ll camp on various islands along the San Juan shoreline, mostly in Washington State Parks. Campsites have composting toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. Tents are 3-person models shared between 2 people.
For solo travellers looking for their own space - single tents are available on request (see Optional Extras for costs).
Board the complimentary shuttle from the ferry terminal to the San Juan Island Country Park and kayak north through the Orca Whale Sanctuary – keep your eyes peeled for your first whale sighting. Stop for lunch at a suitably scenic spot and then continue on to tonight's campsite. Relax, explore some of the nearby trails and then enjoy dinner while you watch the sunset over the ocean.
After breakfast and a briefing on today’s route, hit the water and let the tide carry you along. Stop for lunch on a small pocket beach where you can refuel, relax and take in the peaceful surroundings. Hop back into your kayak and continue your journey to tonight’s camp where you can relax at the water’s edge as you wait for dinner to be served.
Relaxation kicks in
Wake early and appreciate the serenity of the islands with a coffee in hand. Today's pace depends on where you decide to go, but whichever direction you choose you’re sure to be surrounded by a beautiful coastal landscape with bald eagles and seabirds flying above. Tonight, you're likely to camp at Blind Island or Obstruction Pass - whichever it may be, you’re in for a delicious dinner, fun company and another stunning sunset.
Cypress Island and Eagle Cliff
By now, you’ll be in tune with your surrounding and able to spot seals in the distance at a glance. Enjoy a morning on the water and stop at Smuggler’s Cover for lunch and a stretch. Continue paddling to Cypress Island where the landscape becomes wilder, with no farms and homes, just ancient trees covering the high slopes. Set up camp and take an evening walk to Eagle Cliff - the views are amazing so be sure to take your camera. It’s your final night, so enjoy a glass of wine and absorb a last, unforgettable sunset.
Pelican Beach Sunrise
Get an early start to witness arguably the most satisfying sunrise you'll ever see as it appears over the volcanic mountain, Mt. Baker. After breakfast, choose your route back to Anacortes, arriving between 14:00 and 16:00 depending on the conditions of the day. Unpack, say farewell to your guide, team and kayak and then head back home, or maybe travel further in this lovely region.
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
15% Off Outdoor Gear
In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.
- All kayaking and camping equipment (excluding a sleeping bag)as well as a complimentary insulated travel mug
- Every person will be assigned 2–20L dry bags and 1–10L dry bag for storing their gear
What's available to hire?
Sleeping Bag (see Optional Extras for costs)
What do I need to bring?
- Long underwear- polypropylene or synthetic, top and bottom
- Shorts (1 pair, preferably non-cotton)
- Pants (1 pair, preferably non-cotton)
- 2-3 T-shirts
- Sweatshirt (fleece or synthetic, cotton will not dry) or other insulating shirt x2
- 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
- Two water bottles, 1 litre each (please fill them at the store, or before you arrive)
- Bug spray
- Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries.
- Sleeping Bag - must be compressible to fit into one of the 20L dry bags
- Beer or wine
- A small hand towel
- Book, playing cards etc
- Any favourite snacks (your host will provide a lot, but you may have special preferences.)
- Camera (bring freezer grade Zip-Loc bags to protect it if it isn’t waterproof.)
- Personal medicine if required (please inform your guide in case of emergency)
This trip is designed for people with little or no previous paddling experience, however, the fitter you are, the more enjoyable the experience will be. Please note that you'll be crossing through the heart of the San Juan Islands and on some days will paddle over 19km, though this can be done by anyone with the right mindset.
Your guides are excellent paddlers and well-trained guides who can teach you the basic skills and show you the best places to go.
Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.
The San Juan Islands have a very mild climate during the summer months and most trips will experience temperatures around 21°C during the day and mid-10s at night. Rain is not common but it's always good to be prepared.
The marine mammals typically seen are Harbor Porpoise, Harbor Seals, Southern Resident Orcas (these are the endangered ones, so seen less often), Transient Orcas (these are the thriving Orcas who feed on other marine mammals), Humpback Whales, Minke Whales and Gray Whales as well as many different types of seabirds including Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Peregrine Falcons and many other smaller marine birds.
Please note that not all of these wildlife sightings can be guaranteed, however, your experienced guides will do their best to increase your chances.
Your host recommends the following three accommodation options.
- Cap Sante Inn: Basic, friendly, affordable and located in old town Anacortes within walking distance of great restaurants.
- Ship Harbor Inn: Located within walking distance of the ferry and includes breakfast and picturesque views of the San Juan Islands. A taxi would be needed to grab a bite to eat as the town is a 4-mile drive away.
- Nantucket Inn: Located as you drive into Anacortes, this is a historic building that's been newly remodelled, with a huge outdoor area to hang out in.
You can leave any excess luggage at your host's base before you set off.
We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.
We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!
265 lbs for double kayaks and 225 lbs for single kayaks. These weights are generally the limits for your comfort and enjoyment of the activity.
Of course! Your host only has a limited number of single kayak available, so please request on booking. There is a small charge for a solo kayak: see the Optional Extras for costs.
Anacortes ferry terminal parking fees may vary per season, however at the time of writing the prices are:
1 day (0-24 hours) - $7.00 2 days (24-48 hours) - $12.00 3 days (48-72 hours) - $14.00 4 days (72-96 hours) - $17.00 One week (7 days/168 hours) - $22.00
All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.
"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.
We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.
If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.
Cancel up to 31 days before departure and we'll transfer your deposit into credit for a future booking.
Free Date Changes
Free date changes up to 31 days before departure.
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