Route & Itinerary
The Half Day Kayak Tour routes are set to maximize the opportunity to encounter a diverse range of wildlife. Both the west side and east side tours have the potential for whale encounters. Note we do not encounter whales every day, but our routes offer the best potential on San Juan Island.
The West Side Route
We operate the majority of our kayak tours on the west side of San Juan Island. This route has a lot of history when it comes to whale encounters. Over the many years we have been leading kayak tours, the west side has been one of the best locations to encounter wildlife and more specifically, Southern Resident Killer Whales. The past few seasons Southern Resident Killer whales have been traveling further searching for food and at times are not present along the west side of San Juan Island. Along the route, we will pass the iconic Lime Kiln Lighthouse and get expansive views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges.
The East Side Route
The east side of San Juan Island is scattered with offshore rock piles that attract numerous harbor seals. With a large number of seals along the east side, Bigg’s Killer Whale sightings are becoming more common. Along this route, we will explore the shoreline of small islands with curious eagles keeping watch and near the water’s edge look for bright purple sea stars. In the distance enjoy views of Mount Baker and the Cascade Mountain Range.
The Harbor Route
We have a private dock float in the Port of Friday Harbor that allows us access to parts of the east side of San Juan that other kayak tour companies cannot access easily. The route paddles past forested biological preserves and small offshore islands. Explore the area common traveled by Bigg’s Killer Whales, Seals and treetops with Bald Eagles. The routes offer lots of wildlife view and history of the area. This route is a staff favorite.
Please note this itinerary is a rough outline of the day’s travel. We can encounter delays that will affect our departure and arrival time back at the shop.
- Check-in: 15 minutes prior to your reserved departure time at our office, 260 Spring St.
- Departure: We will depart on time for your tour.
- At the Beach: Organize and carry kayaks. Safety Orientation.
- On the Water: Explore the San Juan’s for 4 – 5 miles.
- Back at the Beach: Organize and reload kayaks.
- Head for Town: We will return back to our office as close to on time as possible.
Trips may be delayed due to orca encounters. Because of regulations in place to protect our local orca whales our movements can be restricted when whales are in the area. Please keep in mind this can affect our return time back to town. We will always do our best to get everyone back in a timely manner.
Half Day Kayak Tour Schedule of departure and arrival times
- 8:00 AM Departure from our Shop | 12:00 PM Arrival back at our shop
- 11:30 AM Departure from our Shop | 3:30 PM Arrival back at our shop
- 1:30 PM Departure from our Shop | 5:30 PM Arrival back at our shop
Wildlife & Weather
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.
- Seals and Sea Lions: 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 hosts a healthy 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.
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.
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.
Late Season: Fall can be one of the best times to visit San Juan Island. 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.