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Hooked for Life: Ten Reasons to Kayak the Salish Sea

by Shelley Sharp

You’ll hear the sounds, feel the wind, and get a taste of solitude. Sea kayaking is the best up-close-and-personal way to get out on the water and commune with the natural world of the San Juan Islands. Whether you borrow one of the Tucker House Inn’s or Harrison House Suites’ kayaks, or join one the professional outfitters in Friday Harbor, you’ll find yourself in the glory of spectacular surroundings.

The main reason you should get out on the water during your stay on San Juan Island is that it’s fun! Although you really don’t need any more reasons to grab a paddle and head down to Jackson Beach, we thought we’d provide you with 10 more to “seal”-the-deal:

sea lions in cattle pass
Seals populate many of the small islands surrounding San Juan.

1. To be Close to Nature

Kayaking definitely affords you the ability to be closer to nature than a lot of other activities do. In many cases you will be able to travel to and see sights only accessible to a very small percentage of the population. In the case of the San Juan Islands…whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, migrating and birds of prey, and marine mammals. When you kayak the waters surrounding San Juan Island you are eye level with some of the wonders of our natural world.

2. To Spend Quality Time with Family &Friends

The bond that fellow kayakers share is one that enhances relationships and builds camaraderie. Sea kayaking, vs. river kayaking allows paddlers the chance to converse and interact. Whether you and your active friends share a competitive streak, you want quality time to hang out with family, or a magical experience for just the two of you, kayaking will make social bonds and loving partnerships even stronger.


3. For Exercise

Kayaking is indeed great exercise. There are few activities that offer this degree of aerobic workout mixed with upper body conditioning and core building. Kayaks will offer you this benefit regardless of the type you choose to paddle. And, of course, the longer you stay out on the water, the more your body will benefit!

kayaking around lime kiln park
Exploring coves around Lime Kiln State Park.

4. For Adventure

Skirting the shore of Lime Kiln State Park from a sea kayak ensues a sense of adventure you just can’t get from the deck of a boat. Whether you are exploring island crevices, gliding up on wildlife, making an ocean crossing, or photographing a breathtaking sunset, there is the potential for unlimited adventure in your San Juan sea kayaking experience.

5. For Stress Relief

There are few things more relaxing than sitting in a kayak and watching light play on rippling water. The combination of waves slapping against your rig, the cry of gulls overhead, and the smell of a light briney wind all work to blow tension away. Kayaking has been known to help with depression and will brighten your spirits if you are having a bad day. After your first time out on the water, you will know why seasoned paddlers say, “Even a bad day of kayaking is better than a good day at work.”

Play Outside Guide setting up camp on a boat only accessible island
Go where no ferry can take you. Set up camp on a neighboring island.

6. To Enhance Another Activity

Kayaking facilitates and enhances many other activities. Whether you are an avid fisherman, camper, hiker, or birder, kayaking opens up entirely new possibilities. Paddle to a campground on a neighboring island, fish for rock fish in a sheltered cove, or bring your binoculars to scan for water fowl and the bobbing heads of seals…paddling island waters adds a whole new dimension to a weekend get-away.

7. To Stay Cool in the Summer

On those warm Pacific Northwest summer days when you’ve shopped ‘til you drop and you’re looking for a way to beat the heat, scheduling a kayak tour is just the ticket. Who needs air conditioning when you can make your own breeze by paddling across the blue waters of San Juan Channel and Haro Strait? Who knows — you may even need to bring a jacket!

8. Because it’s a Sport for All Ages

Whether a person is just a 5-years old or approaching 80, they can enjoy kayaking. The activity reaches across generational lines and gets us away from screens and the stress of daily life into nature. Small ones can sit in front of an adult with a PFD for a few hours of safe fun. School aged kids can paddle their own. And seniors benefit from kayaking physical activities and social time with friends. It’s never too late to start and continue through life.

9. To Get a Science Lesson

Kayaking is a sport where you might even learn something. When you head out on a half, full-day or overnight tour with one of our fine outfitting partners, you will also be a student along the way. Each company has at least one guide on your trip who has a natural science degree, or is working towards one. This means you will learn about animals, sea life, geology, geography, and local history — while getting exercise and reducing stress at the same time!

kayaking in the san juans
Go slow to drink in the beauty around you.

10. To Slow Down

For most of us, our daily lives are spent at breakneck speed, rising early and getting to bed late. When you paddle rhythmically through the currents of the Salish Sea your frenzied routine will fade from view. With a top speed of about four miles per hour, there’s no question that paddling a kayak helps you to slow down and bask in the the beauty of our watery island world.

As a guest at the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites you are able to take advantage of our free concierge matching services. We believe that having advise that comes from our first-hand knowledge is what sets us apart, and helps you to make informed decisions. Our team works with you to create an itinerary, including kayaking, that meets your activity level and expectations.

If you love to research options before you book your stay, check out our latest blog, Choosing the Best San Juan Island Kayak Tour for You. Then call (360) 378-2783 to book your room and your kayak trip together.


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