- The kayaking possibilities are endless in this gorgeous and accessible archipelago.
- Let a local guide take care of the details while you soak in the stunning views.
- A kayak is a great way to access the many small park islands.
- Kayaking in the San Juans is fun for beginners and experts alike.
Where should I canoe and kayak?
There are countless great kayak routes throughout the San Juan Islands. Almost any of the many public beaches are great launching points and there is always plenty to see once you’re on the water. It’s very important to remember that the currents can be completely different depending on where you are. The currents can be very strong and dangerous. So make sure you have the right knowledge, skills and equipment to handle it or let one of the expert local guides take care of all the details.
Iceberg Point, south end of Lopez Island
The rocky shoreline at this end of the island makes for a nice paddle when the tide is right. With great views west to Cattle Point Lighthouse and south to the Olympic Mountains this area is particularly nice on a long summer evening.
- Put-Ins: Agate Beach can have waves, if they seem too much that’s a good sign not do this possibly rough paddle. Another more protected option nearby is Barlow Bay, which was the sandy beach you passed right before Agate. From Agate head left out along the bay and follow the shoreline.
- Tips: The relatively open water that you can access on this paddle makes for great views and rolling swells. However the open water can also get rough, so be careful.
Olga, south end of Orcas Island
From the tiny hamlet of Olga access stretches of calm Eastsound or venture along Rosario Strait. There are several small islands near here including Blakely and Center Island. These smaller islands are much less populated and often have stretches of totally uninhabited shoreline.
- Put-Ins: The public day-use dock at Olga Marine Park is a good place to launch. When you leave the dock you can head in any direction depending on the tide and what you’d like to see.
- Tips: Blakely has a small marina with a general store if you feel like a snack. This is the only public access to the Island.
Deadman Bay, west side of San Juan Island
The west side of San Juan Island is one of the most popular kayaking spots in the San Juans. This is where many of the local tour companies take their guests. The views west across Haro Strait to Vancouver Island are gorgeous, and whales are often spotted here.
- Put-Ins: Deadman Bay is a great launch site. The trail to the beach is a bit of a schlep but the wide-open beach is relatively calm. Head south from here to get views back towards Whidbey Island and the Olympic Mountains or north to go along Lime Kiln Point State Park toward Roche Harbor.
- Tips: This is the most likely paddle to be even slightly crowded. Especially during the summer this area can seem full of all kinds of boats. So either leave it for a slow day or make sure the bigger boats can see you.
I am looking for a kayak guide
A local guide can take the stress out of this detail filled activity. They’ll take care of all the equipment, planning, and also be able to answer any questions you have about the natural environment. There are tons of companies to choose from, so it’s easy to find one that fits your budget and needs. Many even specialize in multiday trips, gourmet cuisine, or kayak sailing.
Canoes and other paddle craft
The water in the San Juan Islands can seem as calm and protected as a lake but the tidal currents can change almost instantly and become very dangerous. The currents paired with a yearlong water temperature of about 50 degrees means it’s very important to have the right kind of boat. I’m sure really expert canoeists could get around in the San Juan Islands but sea kayaks were made for this kind of water.