Day trip - Kayak San Juan Islands

Old Jul 20th, 2021, 02:24 PM
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Day trip - Kayak San Juan Islands

I am taking my 7 year old daughter for a trip to Seattle. She would really like to kayak to see some wild life and I have seen that the San Juan Islands are a short-ish distance by car. I would like to get some advice on specific kayak guides companies, launch points, and tips for doing this as a day trip. It looks like the ferry from Anacortes runs fairly regularly. From my short research, it also seems like Orcas Island will give us the best chance of seeing some cool wildlife. Since she is still young, I think a 3 hour tour is probably our max. She is a budding foodie though so if there are lunch places to recommend in the vicinity as well - that would be appreciated!
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 07:17 AM
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When would this trip take place? Honestly, I would never recommend the San Juans as a "day trip" from Seattle, and I have to disagree that it's a "short-ish" trip. It's typically two hours to the Anacortes ferry terminal, then a wait before your (pre-booked) ferry leaves, then the time of the trip - an hour or so to Orcas, potentially longer to San Juan Island, followed by whatever travel time there is from ferry to the kayak vendor. Even if everything goes off with bang-bang timing, you're looking at the better part of four hours before you're in the water.

Have you investigated options for kayaking closer to Seattle? There are kayak rental and instruction services available on Lake Union right in the city, or in West Seattle (at Alki Beach and Seacrest Park, where the water taxi lands) and at a couple of locations on Lake Washington, or Portage Bay, such as Meydenbauer Bay in Bellevue and the University of Washington's Aquatic Activities Center, where there are kayaks and canoes available for paddling through the wetlands and sloughs (with lots of wildlife) that abut Union Bay on Lake Washington.

I wouldn't discourage traveling to the San Juans, but I wouldn't undertake it as a day trip.
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 07:21 AM
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I agree, I do not consider the San Juans a day trip from here.

If you want something a bit different, take the Argosy fast ferry over to Blake Island and you can rent kayaks there. You can kayak around the island, which is really fun. Then at Blake Island their Longhouse Cafe is open and they have some wonderful food.
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 07:22 AM
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San Juan as a day trip is fine, but I can't comment on the kayak part.
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 08:37 AM
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I'd listen to the two Seattle locals who say its too far for a day trip -- I've only been to San Juan Island once but IIRC the trip over took close to 4 hours all in. Orcas would be shorter of course -- but I'd guess 3+ hours. And that is plus any extra commute time in Seattle depending on where you're staying.
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 09:00 AM
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I'd listen to a kayak company website. Then you can decide if it's worth the effort. This is well regarded one for San Juan, you can probably find others. Instead of "don't do it" I'd rather provide a little information and let the OP decide. As I mentioned, it isn't hard to do what I consider a "day trip" to the San Juans. You might consider just doing the ferry ride, though and leave out the kayaking.

https://www.sea-quest-kayak.com/kaya...-533e819b-b4e2
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 01:15 PM
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I'm a local from Whidbey Island. The San Juans are great, but not for a day trip. We should also tell you that they are packed in summer, you MUST have a reservation, and the wait times can be up to an hour if something goes awry. I just checked Anacortes-Orcas and the boats are 1/2 hour behind and will be all day. Can you stay over at least a day? Can you not come on a weekend (esp. Fridays) ? You can also book mark the ferry schedule link so that if they put out an alert you will know.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2021, 04:46 PM
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I also do not consider the San Juan islands a reasonable "day trip". It is not a "short-ish distance by car". A couple hours drive then walking or taking your car on a ferry to the island. And of course in reverse as a round trip. Certainly possible though. Also you could do the San Juans via seaplane instead of making the drive.

I don't know about seeing wild life, but there are places to rent kayaks right here in Seattle.

suze, in Seattle
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Old Jul 27th, 2021, 02:19 PM
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I wouldn't do it as a day trip either. We did a combo of Seattle and San Juan Island for one of our trips. The ferry company actually cancelled our ferry without notifying us. We got there a bit early, and they said, "Oh we decided not to run that one today." If you go, I'd recommend staying a couple of nights. We went whale watching while we were there and saw several orcas, some that swam right under our boat. Have not been to Orcas Island, but we loved San Juan Island.
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Old Jul 28th, 2021, 10:29 AM
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Awesome advice and exactly why I wanted to write to the Fodor community. We are scratching it from our itinerary and I am adding the San Juan Islands to my wish list as a separate trip in the future.
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