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Ultimate Vacation Adventures: Kayaking in The San Juan Islands

kayaker out on the water

The San Juan Islands are the perfect place to get outside and explore the water surrounding you with a guided kayaking tour around the islands. You don’t need to have any experience, but you do have to have a willingness to have fun, be safe, and explore! Here in Friday Harbor you’ll have a few tour operators to choose from, each offering tours led by kayaking experts who will guide you through the waters, making sure you have the best trip possible.

Whether you are traveling with family, friends, or enjoying a solo trip to the islands, these kayak guides will be able to accommodate you. The water is for everyone to enjoy. You may even get lucky enough to see a resident orca whale swimming by or possibly a few seals bobbing their heads around you. Let the fresh sea air engulf you, take a moment to reflect as you glide through the water, and enjoy the sunshine.

Allow us to help guide you to the best option for your outdoor exploration. Below we review a few different options for kayaking during your stay with us in Friday Harbor.

Crystal Seas Kayaking

Crystal Seas Kayaking started in the mid-1990s and has been guiding guests of all ages throughout the years. If the age of the business isn’t enough to inspire your trust in this company, their staff truly will. Crystal Seas Kayaking is built on a staff of kayak guides who are all outdoor enthusiasts and many have biological sciences degrees. The guides return year after year to lead tours. They are well trained and extremely knowledgeable about all of the aspects of the San Juan Islands.

Crystal Seas offers a variety of kayaking trips to choose from including a 3-hour tour, a multi-day tour, and a family or custom tour. The 3-hour tour is perfect for those just looking to experience the islands while being able to have a flexible schedule with plenty of time for other activities as well. The multi-day tour includes gourmet meals cooked every night around a campfire. As you travel through the Puget Sound, you’ll get a closer look at some of the smaller islands that surround Friday Harbor. If you are traveling with children under five years old or a large group, a family or custom tour is going to be your best option.

Discovery Sea Kayaks

Discovery Sea Kayaks has a mission to help you connect with nature while teaching you about the islands and the marine life that surrounds them. This kayaking tour will expand your understanding of marine conservation and provide you with information about the local orca whales. This is going to be the perfect touring option for you if you have a great desire to learn about local marine life. Discovery Sea Kayak offers half-day tours, full-day tours, and sunset kayak tours. If you are traveling with smaller children, the half-day tour is recommended. If you have teens or a group of friends or family, the full-day tour will be the ultimate kayaking experience. Or you can opt for a sunset tour, which is perfect to enjoy with a loved one or on a solo, meditative trip.


San Juan Island Outfitters

San Juan Island Outfitters is another great option for a guided kayaking trip. They will accommodate all skill types and families of all ages. This kayaking company has a group of experienced guides and naturalists who are ready to keep you safe while having fun and teaching you about the marine life of the islands. San Juan Island Outfitters also offers whale watching tours, so you might start with a kayaking tour of the islands and then end the day with a sunset whale watching tour, all with the same company. San Juan Island Outfitters prides itself on keeping group sizes small, so you and your family can have more of a personal experience with your guide.

Though only available during select times throughout the summer, if your timing is right we recommend doing their bioluminescent kayaking tour. As you glide through the waters you will see a stream of glowing plankton lighting up the water. The bioluminescent tour will be one to remember. When have you had the opportunity to see the water around you naturally light up as you paddle by?

It’s hard to believe, but there are even more kayaking companies to choose from, including Outdoor Odyssey and Sea Quest. Being able to experience San Juan Island wildlife and scenery from sea level will leave you breathless. Before you set out for your trip, here are a few tips on what to wear and bring with you: sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and drinking water. Be sure to wear layers that you can easily removed as you get warmer through your tour. As you paddle, listen to the waves as you move through the sound and breathe in the fresh sea air.

At the Tucker House Inn & Harrison House Suites, we offer you the option to borrow kayaks — first come, first served — if you are ready to explore without a guide. The innkeepers can also answer any questions you may have about kayaking and are readily available to help you book a tour reservation.

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lighthouse at a rocky shorline with evergree trees at back

Recognized by Travel + Leisure Magazine

We have been recognized by Travel + Leisure Magazine as the best place to stay when visiting Friday Harbor and San Juan Island.