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Take a Family Kayaking Trip on San Juan Island

Content and Photos by Jennifer Furber Published on August 8, 2017

In the fifteen years I’ve called the islands home, I had never been kayaking. I walk along the island’s shores all summer long, float atop the sea in our fishing boat. I had thought I’d seen all I could see. Besides, I’m scared of deep water so kayaking never seemed like something I could try. And I have to admit, as an islander, it’s a bit odd to battle of fear of deep water. Summer after summer, I talk with tourists who travel sometimes hundreds of miles to kayak San Juan Islands’ waters.I recognize it’s a bucket list activity for many. I thought my time along the shores of the islands and within our boat compared to kayaking. I’d seen whales from a distance, seals and sea lions up close. I wasn’t sure what I was missing until I had the opportunity to take a family Sunset Kayak trip.

Our Kayaking Trip From Start to Finish

Crystal Seas Kayaking is located on Spring Street, just a few yards from the Washington State Ferry Terminal in Friday Harbor. The staff are environmentally conscious and stewards of marine preservation. Many of their employees have majored in science and have a deep passion for the outdoors. Crystal Seas donates to the community and supports farmers, students, wildlife, and islanders in need. They offer three-hour, full-day, sunset, kayak-Inn tours, kayak-lodging, kayak-camping tours, as well as many bike and whale watching excursions. For us, the family sunset tour seemed perfect.

The night we took our sunset kayak cruise with Crystal Seas was also our fourteen year wedding anniversary. We normally don’t bring our children along on our anniversary dates, but this night was special. It made sense to share such a special memory with our children.

I believed it would be a wonderful learning experience for our girls to see me overcome a fear of deep water 

Upon arrival to the office for our scheduled float, the entire staff was welcoming and kind. Maybe they could sense my nerves and anxiety. Each staff member assured me it would be a peaceful, enjoyable evening.  It was clear they all loved what they did. Our kids’ were also thrilled and happy, so I tried to focus my attention on their joy.  

The morning had been windy, and I’d earlier seen white caps on the waves from a westside beach.  When we pulled into our departure location of Snug Harbor Resort, the air was warm and the sea was flat. A perfectly calm night had arrived.

And so the Adventure Begins

crystal seas kayaking

Our kayak guide was Jesse. She delivered an introductory lesson as we prepared to get into our boats that was both knowledgeable and reassuring. The way she spoke with our seven year old daughter made us aware that this really was going to be an all-ages, family-centered outing. She would share the kayak with our youngest daughter and keep her laughing the whole evening, while my husband shared his kayak with our middle daughter.

I got into a kayak with my oldest daughter. Her excitement was infectious. She’s twelve so I knew she’d be a great paddler. I didn’t want my unease about this first-time experience to ruin her time. We slowly began to paddle around the harbor as we waited for the rest of our group to board their kayaks. After a few minutes, I noticed how smooth and in-synch our paddling was. We were in stride after only a few practice strokes. I felt stable and confident, and it was easy to change direction.

An Island View from the Water

We headed along the shore of San Juan Island to Sunset Point. This is a well known point of land near San Juan County Park on the west side of the island that’s perfect for sunset views and rocky shore exploration. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is known for it’s high winds and vicious seas, so it was a gift to be atop its calm and placid waters. The entire trip, we had sweeping views of Canada and The Olympic Peninsula. Jesse taught us about the Madrona trees and glacial erratic rocks. We watched as a couple of great blue herons fished from the rocks along the shore. We saw eagles in nests. In the slack tide, we paddled to a bull kelp bed as the sun set.  

In unison, our daughters declared it was the, “very best night ever!” My husband and I enjoyed sharing our special date with our children. I will now recommend the sunset cruise kayaking tour to every family that asks what to do with children. The sea was calm and the activity centered their energy. Our Crystal Seas Guide was knowledgable and her calm demeanor made me feel safe and in good hands. It surprised me how much I could enjoy the sights of our island, even the everyday trees and wildlife. Floating on the water gave such an interesting perspective.

Relax After a Day on the Water

As a partner, we host many of their guests and we readily send our guests their way as well. There is nothing better than coming home to your quaint room or cottage. No matter the length of your trip, it you will certainly want to indulge in our Island-made bath products and cozy up in one of our robes. Give us a call today at the Tucker House and we will gladly help you make kayaking reservations!

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