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Wild Green Yonder: Kayaking the Salish Sea

sunset reflecting on the water
Written by Toni Shiurba and Published on July 6, 2017

Are you looking for a place to renew your spirit and soothe your mind? Want a shift in attitude? Try changing your environment, if only for a few days. The beauty of the San Juan Islands will inspire you. It will release the magic in your imagination and show you opportunities that you were blind to before. Environment, including the people, animals, and plant life within it, are powerful influences in your ability to achieve all the good that you can. What’s one of our favorite ways to immerse ourselves in the environment? Kayaking the Salish Sea!

Our main claim to fame is found swimming in the Salish Seas surrounding us. Three resident pods of Orca whales eat the salmon along our shorelines. And you’ll notice there isn’t nearly as much moisture on the Islands as there is in the Seattle area. This is due to the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. However, you will notice youself surrounded by Douglas fir, Madrona, Red Cedar, Big Leaf Maple, Grand fir, Hemlock, and Pine trees. They lend their woodsy smell to the fresh air breezes.

What’s the Best Way to Tour the Salish Sea?

Sea Quest Expeditions is one of several kayak groups offering an afternoon, overnight or up to five-day trips to view our Southern Resident Killer Whales. Twenty-five years ago, Marc Lewis and Martine Springer started this very first sea kayaking business on the Island. They are still going strong today. Safety first is their rule.

They employ marine biologists as guides to educate people about the orcas, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises, minke whales, sea lions, otters, and eagles. They paddle routes that are the tried and true ones for Orca sightings.

Our resident whales live in female dominated groups called pods. The patches of white on their bodies and the shapes of their dorsal fins allow biologists to identify them. Each pod (J, K and L) have specific numbers for each whale. Some distinctive ones are given names. I always remembered the orca, Ruffles, because of the wavy nature of his dorsal fin. And then of course there was Granny. She earned her name for her advanced age and as the matriarch of her pod.

What to Expect from Sea Quest

Sea Quest Expeditions takes pride in all aspects of their business. Top of the line kayaks and small groups of 6-8 customers, keeps the experience personal. Knowledge of how weather and currents affect the difficulty or ease of paddling, not to mention safety, is of utmost concern. Finding the up-to-date locations of the Orcas is their specialty. Not only that, but they have the best prices!

The time-honored motto of the Boy Scouts, “Be Prepared”, is how they advise their customers before they even arrive on the island. Recommendations for clothing and footwear are discussed on their website. All the items you will need for a flawless, entertaining, educational experience is listed.. And don’t forget to bring your own lunch. That is one of the ways they keep costs down and are able to jump in the boats at a moments notice.

kayaking in the san juans

They offer endless possibilities. You can take a 3-hour morning or a 3-hour sunset cruise. Try an afternoon outing, if you prefer. For a camping adventure, there are two, three, or five-day excursions. Have a group of friends that want to vacation together? They can accommodate that idea, too. Do you want to hone your sea kayaking skills for your own paddling excursion? They have it covered! Are you planning to visit Baja, California? No problem! Is a wild, Alaskan trek on your calendar? They offer choices for that, also.

No matter your preference, you won’t be disappointed.

So What Are You Waiting For?

Experiences like these connect people to nature and to our place in it. Remembering how we are a piece of the puzzle amidst all the creatures of the world. You will renew your desire to leave an important legacy for the next generation. Life is an adventure. Come and experience our Wild Green Yonder for yourself. You’ll be glad you did! Stay with us at the Harrison House Suites or Tucker House Inn and we’ll give you all the kayaking recommendations you will ever need.

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