Kayak the Whale Highway of San Juan
Kayak the wild shorelines of the San Juan archipelago witnessing its dense and diverse wildlife.
Seattle Tacoma International Airport
Travellers looking to break away from daily chaos and get back to nature. This is a gentle and peaceful break but packed with fun non-the-less. Don’t be put off if you’ve never kayaked before; your guides are experts and they'll make sure you'll enjoy the trip. A good level of fitness is recommended.
Experience everything that needs to be seen in the San Juan archipelago; you’ll kayak along the fabled Orca Highway, witnessing the perfect sunsets as you camp at peaceful marine parks in the Wasp Islands Group along the way. Paddling through many wildlife hotspots, you’ll search for whales, porpoises, sea lions and the densest population of harbour seals in the world.
Day 1: Get Paddling
The complimentary shuttle will collect you from the ferry terminal and take you to the San Juan Island Country Park in time for launch.
There’s no holding back as you launch your kayak and head north through the Orca Whale Sanctuary – keep your eyes peeled for your first whale sighting.
After around 6 hours of kayaking and a stop-off for lunch, you’ll arrive at camp. It’s time to relax and explore some of the trails on the island.
By early evening, dinner will be ready at camp for you to enjoy with the group and a glass of wine while you watch the colour-changing night sky.
Day 2: Gentle Kayaking and Lunch on the Beach
After breakfast this morning, your guide will brief you about today’s route; every trip is tailored as much as possible to the group, so feel free to talk about what you’re hoping to see throughout the trip.
You’ll hit the water when the tide is right; the aim is for the tide to carry you along, making the paddling that much easier. You’ll stop for lunch on a small pocket beach where you can refuel and relax a while, taking in the peaceful surroundings.
Back in your kayaks, you’ll continue your journey to tonight’s camp. When you arrive, your guides will help you set up home for the night before you relax on the water’s edge and await dinner.
Day 3: Paddle the Quaint Landscape
By now, you’re likely to be feeling the relaxation kick in; waking early becomes a pleasure to appreciate the serenity of the islands and reflect over the stillness of the sea, coffee in hand.
The pace of today’s paddling depends on where you and your guide decide to go but whichever direction you take you’re sure to be surrounded by quaint landscape with bald eagles and seabirds above.
Tonight, you are likely to camp at Blind Island or Obstruction Pass; whichever it may be, you’re in for a delicious dinner, fun company and a stunning sunset.
Day 4: Cypress Island and Eagle Cliff
At breakfast this morning, you and your guide will decide where today will take you; perhaps Cypress Island, where the landscape becomes much wilder, farms and homes now absent, and instead ancient trees cover high slopes.
By now, you’re well in tune with your surroundings; your keen eyes spot seals in the distance at a glance. Close to camp on Pelican Beach, you’ll stop at Smuggler’s Cover for lunch and stretch.
Camp on Cypress Island offers a fantastic evening walk to the head of Eagle Cliff; in just 2.5 kilometres, the trail leads to the most amazing views so be sure to take your camera.
It’s your final night, hopefully, you have a glass of wine left to enjoy while you watch the last sunset of your trip before dinner.
Day 5: Pelican Beach Sunrise and Home
An early start is a must this morning if you want to witness arguably the most satisfying sunrise as it makes its appearance over the volcanic mountain Mt. Baker.
After breakfast, you’ll choose your route and make your way back to Anacortes, arriving sometime between 14:00 and 16:00 depending on the conditions of the day.
When you arrive, the team will be there to help you unpack before you say a fond farewell to your guide, the islands and your kayak.
Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, and weather conditions and forecasts. Also, please note that you can be sure to see a lot of wildlife, however, what exactly you're going to spot will vary per trip.
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.
You’ll camp on various islands along the San Juan shoreline. All campgrounds are on public land, mostly Washington State Parks and have composting pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. Your host's tents are 3-person tents intended for 2 people. Single tents are available on request and at an additional charge of $50 if requested.
The west side of San Juan Island is home to the proposed Orca Whale Sanctuary. The body of water here is called Haro Strait which has a storied geopolitical history. It is a significant waterway due to the presence of the international border between the United States and Canada, a border created in 1872 after an interesting military situation on San Juan Island known as the Pig War.
The Wasp Island Group is a cluster of nine islands which are mostly undeveloped. The waters are rich with wildlife and the landscape has been left in its natural beauty despite being a popular attraction for sailors and visitors for over two hundred years.
Rosario Strait cluster of islands is a hotbed of activity for many kinds of wildlife. There are many National Wildlife Refuges here, as well as the Cypress Island Reserve with its unbroken forested slopes dominating the landscape. The abundance of seals and porpoise on this side of the San Juan Islands is the likely cause for the recent explosion in sightings of Transient Orca whales here.
Anacortes Ferry Terminal - 06:25
Before your adventure begins, make your way to Anacortes, which is a 90-minutes drive from Seattle by car. Alternatively, you can take the Seattle Airport (SEA) Shuttle to the Anacortes Ferry terminal (2.5h) where your adventure will start the next day.
Jump on the Washington State Ferry in Anacortes bound for Friday Harbor on San Juan Island at 06:25 in the morning. You don't need any reservation, however, your host suggests to be 40 minutes early. Once you get off the ferry you will meet a complimentary shuttle at Memorial Circle to pick you up and bring you to the departure location where you'll also meet your guide and fellow adventurers.
Your host suggests spending the night before in Anacortes in one of the suggested accommodations (see FAQ).
Anacortes Ferry Terminal - 16:00
Your adventure ends close to the Anacortes ferry terminal between 14:00 and 16:00 depending on the conditions of the day. Your host will provide a transfer back to the ferry terminal if needed. Please allow plenty of time for any forwarding transport in case of delays due to unfortunate weather conditions.
Dates & Prices
Bespoke trips only
There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.Request a Quote
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