May through September Kayak Tours depart 7 days a week (Monday – Sunday)
Check in: 10:45am (Friday Harbor) Departure: 11:00am (Friday Harbor) Return: 5:00pm (Friday Harbor)
Why Choose Discovery Sea Kayaks For Your Kayak Tour
Why We Choose Paddle Routes On The West Side
- Quality Guides: You are assured to have one of the best trained guides on San Juan Island. All guides complete our in-house kayak skills training. Then guides complete a seasonal training course with top professionals in the field. Then all guides take a class at the local Whale Museum to be certified guides to operate accordingly around killer whales. Combined with a naturalist workshop they are highly skilled and knowledgeable.
- Gear: We offer more gear than others on the island to ensure you have all you need for a day of paddling. Dry Bags, Paddle Top and Pants, Fiberglass Kayaks and Washington made Werner Paddles.
- Our fiberglass tandem kayak have been selected for stability, performance and comfort. From calm seas to wind chop, the kayak will perform perfectly.
- West Side of San Juan Island paddle routes. Best routes for wildlife viewing.
There are lots of amazing areas to paddle on San Juan Island. But we specifically paddle a section of the west side of San Juan that is known as the best location for killer whale encounters. Other areas such as Griffin Bay are beautiful but are more suitable for families with small children and there is little chance of whale encounters. The West Side has a long standing history as the place to be when vacationing on San Juan Island. The West Side route travels along federally designated habitat for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. So when you hear about kayaking on San Juan Island. It is the West Side route they are all speaking of.
Here’s A Bit More About Our Daily Kayak Adventure
The Whales and Wildlife Kayak Tour is a San Juan Island classic. Departing from the west side of San Juan Island we enter the heart of killer whale (Orca) territory. This is a well know route of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. With 3 pods, J, K and L, there are around 85 whales making up the Southern Resident population. Though we do not see whales on every trip. This tour offers you the best opportunity out of any kayak tour to have a killer whale encounter.
Plus there is a lot of other wildlife that you could see while on this tour. We frequently see Seals, Porpoise, Bald Eagles and lots of beautiful sea birds that are here to forage the rich waters of the Haro Strait. If you keep your eye out you could even see a Minke Whale, one of the baleen whales we see traveling the region. Don’t for get all of the intertidal life that you may see. We have a variety of beautiful Sea Stars in the area. Common sea stars to see are the Purple Star, Blood Star, and the Sunflower Star. Your guide will be able to provide you with information on these amazing intertidal inhabitants. The region is also rich with history from Native Americans that lived in the region, to early western settlers. We travel past the Lime Kiln State Park which is a well know whale watching destination. The Lime Kiln area was home to a well developed mining operation dating back to the 1860′s.
With everything this kayak tour has to offer you can see why its a San Juan Island classic.Discovery will provide you with paddle tops and bottoms. This will help keep you dry while enjoying your day. One dry bag per person will be provided as well. You can keep you camera or other items safely stowed here. Our quality fiberglass kayaks have dry storage compartments that can be use to store your lunch for the day.
Gear We Provide:
- Quality Fiberglass Kayaks (Fiberglass kayak are superior in performance and comfort)
- Waterproof Paddle Tops and Pants
- Dry Bags
- Werner Paddles (Paddles made in Washington State)
- PFD’s (Life Vest)
- Spray Skirts
What do you need to bring?
Lunch, we do not provide lunch and we feel that you can easily find a wonderful packed lunch in town. Plus it will be a lunch you choose which you are sure to enjoy and not a bulk lunch selected for a group. Don’t forget a BOTTLE OF WATER.
It is nice if you have a pair of shoes you do not mind getting wet. There are times depending on the tide that you may have to step into the water to get in the kayaks.
Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Hat and a Camera are all highly recommended.
If you forget any of the items not to worry. Discovery Sea Kayaks is also a fully stocked outdoor retail shop. We can fit you with any items you may have left behind.
Day Kayak Tour Itinerary
- 10:45am Check-in at our office located at 185 First St. in downtown Friday Harbor located one block up from the Ferry Terminal with a Yellow Kayak above the shop. Please see MAP!
- 11:00am Shuttle will arrive for pick up in front of shop and load for the launch location.
- 11:30am Estimated time of arrival at launch location. We will unload kayaks, hand out all gear and go over safety and paddling techniques.
- At this time we will then embark on a wonderful San Juan Kayak Day Tour. We begin by paddling along the coast taking rest breaks in kelp beds and discussing the natural history of the area. Stopping for lunch and rest at a wonderful beach location to relax and enjoy the beach side views. We will then load back into our kayaks and have a great time exploring as we make our way back to the location we launched.
- 4:30pm Back at the launch location we will load gear and kayaks the head for town
- 5:00pm This is the estimated time of our arrival back at our shop in downtown Friday Harbor. We do occasionally arrive back at the shop at the shop later than 5:00pm.
The above chart outlines the area we travel and the region that has been designated as habitat for Southern Resident Killer Whales.