Book Your Tour! Our Half Day Kayak Tour is one of our most popular San Juan Island Kayak Tour options to the best whale watching destination in the United States. We offer more departure times and kayak tours to the west side of San Juan Island than any company on San Juan Island. Daily Departures … Continued
Full Day San Juan Island Kayak Tour
Our Full Day Kayak Tours provide the opportunity to spend the day in the orca sanctuary located on the west side of San Juan Island. The full day kayak tour departs daily at 11 AM. We limit our full day kayak tour to one departure a day.
Our small groups and limited daily launches help preserve the beaches we access while we are out. With increased traffic over the years, some of the beaches we visit are starting to show signs of impact. As positive stewards of the island, we feel it is our responsibility to protect our beach resources.
Paddling the west side of San Juan Island from San Juan County Park to the Lime Kiln State Park puts us in the middle of a stretch of water known as the orca sanctuary. The area received this title when it was designated as an important feeding ground for our Southern Resident Killer Whales.
So when is the best time to see orca whales in the San Juan Islands?
The months of June, July, and August typically yield the most success for orca whale encounters. Our shoulder seasons, March to May and September to October, provide some of the best kayaking due to less traffic on the water. Though the chance to encounter whales is slightly less, we still have many days we see them.
Not every day can we be fortunate to experience paddling with whales. But this does not detract from the amazing paddling experience we offer. With various wildlife to encounter from the sea to the shore and amazing views across the water to the Olympic Mountains, you will have the opportunity to learn about all the natural wonders from your guide. All of us here at Discovery dedicate our time becoming the expert educators and stewards on San Juan Island.
Complete and full disclosure. We launch the majority of our kayak tours from San Juan County Park. We are not alone at this location, most of the companies that advertise kayak tours on San Juan Island depart from the same destination. When it comes to seeing whales its an equal playing field, we all see whales about the same amount of time each year. No one company has special information that another company does not have.
So what’s the difference in the companies?
We set ourselves apart by offering the smallest group sizes on San Juan Island. Focusing on personalizing your kayak tour experience and reducing our impact as we explore the shoreline. As educators and kayak leaders we never stop learning. Every year we train in the sea to hone our safety and leadership skills. We train in all conditions from calm seas too rough and windy days. We constantly read the latest information and research to keep all information we teach current and relevant.
Professionalism from start to finish.
We strongly believe in honesty and integrity above all. When you contact us we will always provide you the most accurate and best information possible about the current kayak conditions and wildlife sightings.
KAYAK ROUTE AND ITINERARY
The Full Day San Juan Island Kayak Tour route is selected specifically for wildlife diversity and whale encounters. The west side of San Juan Island has been defined as the most important feeding area for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. We will travel along steep bluffs and pass by Lime Kiln State Park, know as one of the best spots in the US to see orca whales. Enjoy some of the best views of the Olympic Mountains and Vancouver Island.
- Check-in: 10:45 AM at our shop, 260 Spring St. Friday Harbor, Wa.
- Depart Shop: 11:00 AM
- 20-minute shuttle ride to San Juan County Park
- Kayak instruction, Restroom Break, Launch Kayaks
- Lunch stop (30-45 minutes) approximately 2 hours into the paddle.
- Launch kayaks after lunch for more kayaking
- Back to San Juan County Park around 4:30 PM
- Arrive back in town 5:00 PM
Please note the itinerary is a rough outline out the day’s travel. We can encounter delays that will affect our departure time and arrival back at the shop.
Tour Duration: Door to Door 6 Hours
Kayak Mileage: 6 – 8 Miles
Activity Level: Average (No Experience Required)
Age Requirement: Minimum Age 12 Years Old
Weight Limit: 250 Pounds (please call if you have concerns)
San Juan Island is home to a wide variety of amazing wildlife.
- Southern Resident Killer Whales: Salmon eating whales commonly seen June through mid-October.
- Transient Killer Whales: Marine mammal-eating whales may be seen throughout the year.
- Baleen Whales: Humpback Whales and Minke Whales
- Porpoise: Harbor and Dalls porpoise are encounter year round.
- Harbor Seals, California Sea Lions, and Stellar Sea Lions
- River Otters: More elusive but seen any time of year. Most sightings are early morning or late afternoon.
- Bald Eagles: San Juan host a health population of Bald Eagles with many nesting sites.
Every day is different and we can encounter other species of whales, seals, porpoise and birds not listed above.
Tours are limited to 8 guests, the smallest groups size’s on the island. This provides unlimited access to the guide for answering questions and taking care of any instructional needs while on the water. Smaller groups allow us to get on the water quicker, spending less time at the beach handing out equipment, as compared to large groups commonly seen on San Juan Island. We also have far less impact on beaches and shoreline habitat we visit. From safety to your overall experience, small groups are the best way to travel.
- Professional Sea Kayak Guide instruction and naturalist.
- Fiberglass two person kayaks, selected for their comfort and stability. From novice paddlers with no experience to seasoned veteran paddlers, tandem kayaks offer the perfect platform for kayak touring San Juan Island.
- Complimentary dry bag for the kayak tour.
- Waterproof Jackets and Pants at no extra cost.
Early Season: Spring weather on San Juan is typically cool with daytime temperatures ranging from the low 50’s F to the mid 60’s F. Expect partly cloudy skies with light breezes to windy conditions. Chance of precipitation is greater in the Spring season but rain is usually light. Weather conditions can change rapidly and we keep all reserved guests up to date on the latest forecast.
Summer Season: San Juan Island can have some of the most pleasant summer weather. With half the annual rainfall of the Seattle area, San Juan is typically dry all summer. Temperatures range from upper 60’s F to the mid 80’s F. Skies are usually blue and clear, great for evening star gazing. Winds are more predictable during the summer, light most days with calm seas. There are occasional offshore systems that push strong winds trough the islands.
Late Season: Fall can be one of the best times to visit San Juan. The days become cooler, ranging from the low 50’s F to the mid 60’s F. Winds can be light to moderate depending on the current weather systems. Early fall is typically dry with light rain developing around late October. This is one of our favorite times of the year.
GEAR LIST RECAP
PROVIDED BY DISCOVERY SEA KAYAKS
- Sea Kayak Guide and Naturalist
- Tandem Kayaks and Paddles
- Life Vest (PFD) and Spray Skirts
- Dry Bags (Seal Line 10L)
- Waterproof Jacket and Pants
- Water Shoes (Limited sizes available for rent)
- Water Bottle
- Lunch and Snack
- Non-Cotton Clothing
- Short and Long Sleeve Top
- Quick Dry Pants
- Hat and Sunglasses
- Beanie (Spring and Fall Season)
- Paddling Gloves
- Camera with fitted waterproof case (available for sale at our shop)
- Seat Cushion
Partner Discounts (Only one discount applies to a reservation
- If you have a reservation with Western Prince Whale Watching save 10% | Promo Code WESTERN10
- If you have a reservation with Zip San Juan save 10% | Promo Code ZIP10
Please present reservation confirmation for Western Prince and Zip San Juan at check-in for discounts.
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