Why Choose Discovery

When it comes to choosing a kayak company on San Juan Island it can be a daunting task. There are several options to choose from and you want to make sure you select the company that fits your needs and vision for your vacation.

It’s hard to wade through terms such as “BEST PRICES” or “WE SEE WHALES” and “BEST GUIDES”. Honestly, we are all paddling the same location on San Juan Island. So how do you choose who to paddle with?

Well, I can tell you about Discovery and what we do and why we feel so strongly about our business. You can also visit review sites that will give you insight on how we operate our business.



Our Philosophy and Approach to Kayak Tours

We are a group of passionate paddlers that feel fortunate that kayaking is our job and we get to share our passion with you. As a small company with a small staff, we provide a personal touch to every tour. As owners, we are paddlers and residents of San Juan Island. We love our island and the surrounding waters. We work hard on a daily basis to be the best that we can be. We achieve our goal of being a premier outdoor adventure company by thinking through every aspect of our tours to ensure you have the best possible kayaking experience while visiting San Juan Island.

Whale Watching and Wildlife RoutesSan Juan Island Kayak Routes

We select routes that offer the opportunity to encounter as much wildlife as possible.

Our Half Day, Full Day and Sunset Kayak Tours paddle the west side of San Juan known as the Orca Sanctuary. The region was designated when the Southern Resident Killer whales were listed on the Endangered Species List.

Traveling this area is best in small groups to have less disturbance on the wildlife.

The shoreline is more than stunning with high cliffs topped with fir and madrone trees. Bald Eagles are commonly along the route. Harbor Seals haul out to warm in the sun on the low water rock. River otters travel the shoreline in the early mornings and sunset in search of fish, clams, and urchin.

Multi Day Kayak Tour routes are custom designed by each guide. When guides are assigned an overnight kayak tour they start planning every aspect from tides, weather, and routes. Routes are selected to blend whale watching and exploration.

Reputation and Experience

Over the years we have developed a wonderful reputation as a company serious about providing fun and adventurous kayaking experiences in the San Juan Islands. We take a lot of pride in having a high guest return rate and many of our new guests are referred by a previous guest. We also are very proud of guest’s responses on review sites such as TripAdvisor, YELP, and Google.

Experience is a funny measure. Some will judge experience by how long they have been in business and other may judge by how much time they spend on the water exploring and advancing kayak skills. We fall in the latter of the above statement. Though we have been in business for many years we really judge our experience on staying up to date on the latest in kayak skills, rescues and new information about the wildlife in our region.

Simply doing the same thing over and over without evolving or continuing to learn is not what we call experience.

Small Groups are Best for Everyone

We offer some of the smallest group kayak tours on San Juan Island. With our average size trip being 4 guests we will only take a maximum of 8 guests for tours, some companies operate with 16 or more guests per tour. We will arrange custom large groups when requested but we prefer to keep to small groups. One major benefit of being in a small group is having complete access to your kayak guide, not to mention safety. Your guide is the most important resource while on the water.

Small groups are easier on the beach and shoreline environments we explore. We cause less disturbance to wildlife resulting in better viewing and encounters. There are no negatives to traveling in small groups.

Quality Equipment

We use our equipment hard so we continually maintain it to be in expedition ready condition. We pride Killer whale passing just off the bow of kayakers.ourselves on being a company that doesn’t simply replace a kayak when it gets a scratch. Kayaks are made from petroleum and simply getting rid of a kayak because of cosmetics is irresponsible of any business.

From our half day tours to multi-day tours we provide top notch gear. Each of our tour pages provides an outline of all the equipment we provide for each tour. Our multi-day tours are very popular because we make sure to offer you everything you will need so you can travel light.


Awesome kayak trip

“Had a great time with my buddies on this 3 day, 2-night kayak trip. Our guide, Chad, was awesome – really knowledgeable and fun. The food was really good and the kayaking was great. The islands are amazing and the campsites were beautiful. Highly recommend this trip!!”    -TripAdvisor Review

Professional Sea Kayak Guides (This is our Passion)

The biggest asset on any kayak tour is your kayak guide. Whether dealing with high winds and currents or learning about orcas and the Salish Sea ecosystem we guarantee you are in the most capable hands.

First and foremost our staff is made up of paddlers. We paddle for fun and we paddle for work. Kayaking is a fundamental part of our lives.

We select guides that are in the outdoor industry as a career not as a summer job. Many of our staff members guide in San Juan Island Kayak Guide Trainingother parts of the world during San Juan Island’s off-season. This allows them to gain more experience and grow as professionals.

We have always set the bar in skill and safety amongst the San Juan Island kayak community. All guides wear dry suits to ensure they are capable of performing in any condition in our cold water environment. Guides are equipped with the latest safety equipment from VHF radios to fully-stocked first-aid kits. A well-prepared guide will prove priceless in every situation.

We love training so much that we require all staff, new and old, to complete training every season. Not only does this allow us to learn new techniques, it bounds our staff as a team. Completing training is no easy task. Early mornings practicing rescue techniques in cold water and spending hours being tested in various rescue scenarios is not for the faint of heart. Long days and hard work make us the best when it comes to leading kayak tours.

Discovery Sea Kayak guide practicing skills.Not all training has to do with kayaking. All staff members spend time learning all the new information about the Salish Sea wildlife and ecosystem. We live in a dynamic zone with a high range of wildlife. With our ever changing world and evolution of knowledge, we learn more every year about San Juan Islands’ marine environment and changes in marine wildlife. As Naturalists, we love to share our knowledge of the San Juan’s with everyone. Learn about changes in the Southern Resident Orca populations, current topics on salmon recovery, the island’s rich and diverse history, and more.

As you can see, becoming a sea kayak guide with Discovery Sea Kayaks takes time and dedication. We guarantee you will notice the difference when joining us for your San Juan Island Kayak Tour.