San Juan Islands Family Adventure

From: $2,099

per person dbl occ

Dates: Jun-Aug - see all dates

Total Days: 5

Activity Level: 3

Reserve This Trip

1-800-622-2236

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Monday–Friday,
7 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time

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Price:

2014

REI member: $2,099

Non-member: $2,350

2015

REI member: $2,199

Non-member: $2,419

Kids' Discount: $400 discount for kids ages 8-17 when sharing a room/tent with one or two full-paying guest(s). Tents accommodate up to 4 individuals.

Trip Dates:

2014

  • Jun 22–26
  • Jun 29 – Jul 3
  • Jul 13–17
  • Jul 27–31
  • Aug 10–14

2015

  • Jun 28 – Jul 2
  • Jul 12–16
  • Jul 26–30
  • Aug 9–13
  • Aug 16–20

Or, book a
private departure.

Group Size: 4-13

Activity Level: 3

Activities:

  • Sea Kayaking
  • Cycling
  • Hiking

Accommodations:

Furnished canvas tent-cabins, 2 nights; Island camping, 1 night; Outstanding lodge or cottage accommodations, 1 night

Trip Highlights

  • Take an unforgettable family vacation in Washington's San Juan Islands
  • Hike, go on bike rides, take an overnight kayak tour, whale watch, and more
  • Learn from top guides, stay at wonderful accommodations, and dine on tasty meals
  • Visit the UW Labs for a private tour and explore the Whale Museum

Washington's San Juan Islands have all the makings of an unforgettable family trip: a multitude of activities, breathtaking scenery, and ample opportunity to breathe deep and relax. On our family adventure, look forward to fun and scenic hikes, exciting bike rides, and an overnight kayak tour to Jones Island. We enjoy a whale watching tour on one of San Juan Islands' most environmentally-friendly boats. If we're lucky, we may spot resident orca whales.

Designed especially for families with children ages 8 and up, our days are designed to educate as well as inspire. We make a special trip to the University of Washington Labs for a private tour of the invertebrate touch tanks. An interactive tour of the Whale Museum teaches us about marine mammals. As our journey unfolds, we learn more about the strange and fascinating life of the Salish Sea.

Our guides bring the natural wonder of the islands alive at every turn with expert guidance, insight, and fun. We enjoy healthy, locally sourced, meals prepared fresh daily by our guides throughout the trip.

REI Flash 18 Pack

Kids get an REI day pack — Kids traveling on our Family Adventures will receive an REI day pack for their adventure! Kids age 8-17 will receive the REI Flash 18 Pack (while quantities last, colors may vary). Learn more about REI Family Adventures.

Not traveling with kids under 18? Check out our San Juan Islands Multisport trip.

Itinerary Summary

  • Day 1 - Start with a visit to the Whale Museum and take an afternoon paddle.
  • Day 2 - Bike the rolling hills of San Juan Island and visit the UW labs.
  • Day 3 - Overnight kayak tour to Jones Island State Park.
  • Day 4 - Kayak back to San Juan Island; explore tide pools and look for wildlife.
  • Day 5 - Enjoy a whale watching tour or hike up Mt. Young before departing.

See full itinerary

Trip Itinerary and Details

Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.

  • Day 1 - Start with a visit to the Whale Museum and take an afternoon paddle.

    Our trip begins today in Friday Harbor, Washington. Depart your hometown and arrive in Seattle, then transfer independently to Friday Harbor (ferry or floatplane transfers available). We meet as a group at 11:30 a.m. at the Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal. We head on over to the San Juan Islands famous Whale Museum which has interactive exhibits for the family and is a great way to learn about the amazing marine mammals of the Salish Sea, some of which we will encounter over the next few days. After our Whale Museum tour, we're whisked away to Roche Harbor where the fun begins with a half-day kayak trip on the north end of San Juan Island. We'll learn about this amazing and unique place and how everything in the San Juan Islands is interconnected, from kelp to jellyfish, seals to orca whales. Watch for seals, shorebirds, porpoise and more as we get a feel for paddling and then enjoy a picnic lunch on a picturesque beach. After our kayaking adventure, we'll return to San Juan Island and check into our comfortable canvas tent cabins at Lakedale Resort. Before dinner, there is time to clean up and relax a bit before getting fitted for your bike- tomorrow we explore the island on two wheels! Then, enjoy the first of many freshly prepared meals featuring locally sourced ingredients expertly prepared by your guides. After dinner, we will have an island marine biologist come by for a fireside discussion about orca whales and other aquatic creatures we may be seeing over the next few days! Lunch and dinner included.

    Sea Kayaking: 1-3 hours; Open water with waves, tides, currents.

  • Day 2 - Bike the rolling hills of San Juan Island and visit the UW labs.

    Breakfast at the lodge starts the day today, then we're on the bikes and off to a great day of biking around the island. Leaving camp, we'll head north along Roche Harbor road - gently rolling along the eastern shore of San Juan Island. We'll head inland after a bit on West Valley, meandering south and west past many small family farms as we ride across the island to the western coast. There are many great places to take breaks along this road and look out over the small valleys and farms. We'll see wooly alpacas grazing in their fields, acres of hops swaying in the breeze and much more. Finally after a bit more riding, we arrive at the West Side road where we ride to outstanding San Juan County park. We'll take in the amazing views here, then coast down to Lime Kiln park where we'll watch for whales over lunch and snacks. After lunch at the lighthouse, we're off to the University of Washington labs on San Juan Island for a private tour of the special and strange underwater world of San Juan Island. This is our chance to observe living invertebrates up close in the labs "touch tanks", where we'll have the chance to touch and interact with a wide variety of the animals living in the intertidal zones of the island's shore. This is truly an amazing way to learn about these strange and fascinating creatures! Following the tour at the lab, we'll return to our tent cabins to clean up and rest before another big family dinner. Following dinner, we'll prepare ourselves for tomorrow's big adventure – an overnight kayak and camping trip! All meals included.

    Cycling: 12 miles (all fully van supported and all optional; longer options available / 3-4 hours; mostly paved roads, some gravel roads, with rolling hills and a few steeper sections.

  • Day 3 - Overnight kayak tour to Jones Island State Park.

    After breakfast, we're off today to Friday Harbor where we'll set out for an amazing overnight kayaking tour! On this adventure we'll head into the San Juan Channel and tour of several beautiful islands, including Yellow Island and the Wasp Islands. We'll have a picnic lunch at the midway point, then continue on to Jones Island state park, where we'll set up our camp for the night. In the afternoon you can relax at camp, enjoy an afternoon hike around this beautiful island, or make your way on a hot day to one of the nearby low bank beaches where the 48 degree water will cool you down quickly! Come on back to camp for an amazing backcountry dinner, then set out for an optional sunset paddle or a short hike to the western viewpoint for a blazing San Juan sunset. All meals included.

    Sea Kayaking: 5-8 miles / 3-4 hours; Open water with waves, tides, currents. Hiking (optional): 1 mile / 1 hour.

  • Day 4 - Kayak back to San Juan Island; explore tide pools and look for wildlife.

    After our breakfast in camp, we load up all the gear, pack our boats and venture out by kayak once again, heading across Speiden Channel towards the north side of San Juan Island. Today, we'll continue to watch for eagles, seals, porpoise and even orca whales if they happen to be in the area. Much of the saltwater and shoreline in the San Juan Islands is protected wildlife refuge and sightings of spectacular birds and mammals is a regular occurrence. Along the coastline, we'll look for intertidal activity and in the tide pools we'll likely see many of our invertebrate friends that we learned about at the University of Washington labs just a short time ago. On a remote beach on the north side of the island, we'll have a picnic lunch and as with any day on the water, we'll enjoy spectacular views of the North Cascades and Olympic Mountains. Total paddle distance today depends entirely on the strength and interest of the group. We can do as little as 5 miles or as many as 12 if the group is very strong and excited to be in the boats. Today's paddling route is truly spectacular and it's worth spending some extra time on the water. Once we're back to Roche Harbor we'll check into the resort and rest a bit before enjoying our last dinner together over a beachfront cookout! All meals included.

    Sea Kayaking: 5-8 miles / 3-4 hours depending on the group; open water with waves, tides, currents.

  • Day 5 - Enjoy a whale watching tour or hike up Mt. Young before departing.

    On our final morning on the island, we'll set out for a great hike around English Camp and on to the top of Mt. Young. Or, experience an unforgettable whale watch tour. On one of the most environmentally friendly boats in the islands, enjoy an expert naturalist's view on the diverse marine life that surrounds us. The trip may afford opportunities to view orca whales, humpbacks, porpoise and more. Our hikers will have a picnic lunch at English camp before meeting up with our whale watchers in Roche Harbor for our group farewell at the beach. We'll plan to return to Friday Harbor around 4 p.m. today to retrieve our luggage and say farewell. Flight reservations departing Friday Harbor can be scheduled after 5:30 p.m. Flights home from Seattle-Tacoma Airport can be scheduled after 10 p.m. We recommend allowing plenty of flexibility on your return to Seattle. We cannot guarantee our return to Friday Harbor before 4 p.m. today. Breakfast and lunch included.

    Hiking: 2 miles / 2 hours; 800 ft. elevation gain/loss on Mt. Young.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather and terrain conditions.

Air Travel

Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.

Price Includes

Camping permits and associated fees; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; all tent and tent-cabin accommodations; all group camping equipment (tents, cooking gear, utensils, etc.); all kayaking equipment and dry bags; bikes and bike helmets; admission to the whale museum; optional Whale Watch cruise.

Not Included

Transportation to/from Friday Harbor; pre- or post-trip accommodations in Friday Harbor; insurance of any kind; excess baggage charges or airport taxes (if any); alcoholic beverages or soft drinks; guide gratuities; items of a personal nature.

Qualifications

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Beginners are welcome - it is not necessary to be an experienced kayaker although it is beneficial to have had some previous kayaking or canoeing experience (prior camping experience is also a plus but not mandatory). You should be at ease in a small boat on the open water and know how to swim. A typical day will consist of 3-4 hours of activity (paddling or hiking) with occasional breaks for sightseeing, wildlife viewing and meals. Participants should come equipped with a spirit of adventure and willingness to pitch-in and help with camp chores when necessary.

Weather

The San Juans average 50 percent less precipitation than Seattle itself. This is due to the rain shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains located to the south and west. On a number of islands you’ll find prickly pear cactus - a true testimony to the dryness of the region. During summer months, expect moderate to warm daytime temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s with evening temperatures in the 50s. Most days are sunny with occasional fog in the early morning.

Single Travelers

If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).

We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.

San Juan Islands Family Adventure Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary as this will help you and the field staff.

Weather

Expect daytime temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s (slightly cooler in June), with evening temperatures dropping into the 50s. Although days are generally sunny and dry, you must be prepared for wet, cold and windy weather. It is important to bring adequate insulating clothing and raingear for this trip. Please review the "Things to Consider" section on the back of this gear list.

Gear Checklist

Provided Gear
  • Tandem (two person) kayaks
  • Paddles
  • Life jacket and spray skirt
  • Dry bags (1 small – 5 liter – for personal gear on day trips and 1 medium – 20 liter – for overnight trip)
  • Sleeping bag + pad
  • Cooking gear
  • Bicycles and helmets
  • Gel seat cover
  • Group first-aid kit
Official Papers
  • Airline tickets
  • Photo identification
Outerwear
  • Rain jacket with hood, waterproof and breathable
  • Rain pants, waterproof and breathable
  • Small waterproof pack cover for your daypack
  • Light rain poncho
Clothing
  • Sweater or jacket, wool or fleece
  • Thermal underwear top and bottom
  • T-shirts (no cotton)
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Long pants
  • Shorts
  • Underwear
  • Wool or warm synthetic socks
Footwear
  • Light weight hiking boots
  • Water- and hiker-friendly footwear (our guides recommend a Keen sandal OR Salomon Amphibian water shoes –- no open-toed shoes, please! Your feet are too important, and the shoreline can be rough on them!)
Travel Accessories
  • Day pack – large enough to carry rain gear, warm clothing, water and food for the day
  • Bandana
  • Swimsuit
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Sun/rain hat
  • Sunglasses and retainer strap
  • Toiletry kit
  • Sun block and lip balm
  • Plastic bags -- Ziploc for wet clothes
  • Minimum of two (2) 32 oz. water bottles or hydration system equivalent
  • Emergency space blanket or bivy
  • Favorite snacks
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Insect repellent
Optional Field Gear
  • Camera, memory cards / film, batteries
  • Dry bag for personal gear (small)
  • Small binoculars (7x or 8x is best)
  • Padded cycling shorts (highly recommended)
  • Biking gloves
  • Bike water bottle
  • Trekking poles

Things to Consider

  • Please remember to always pack essential items such as appropriate identification, money, eyewear, a pair of shorts/shirt/fleece top/footwear and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
  • Be sure to bring clothing for both warm and cool weather. For cool weather it is important to dress in layers. Do not bring cotton clothing for warmth. Once cotton becomes wet it drains your body heat. Synthetic fabrics including Capilene, polypropylene, MTS or Thermax are best.
  • Here's what our guides typically wear while paddling: Nylon shorts (with long underwear beneath if the weather is cool) and a long-sleeved synthetic shirt. A waterproof paddling jacket and rain pants are kept close at hand on cool/misty days as well.
  • While in the kayak, wetsuit booties work best. Water shoes, or shoes that can get wet (such as an old pair of tennis shoes), are also an option.
  • When it's time to pack gear into the boats, keep your sleeping bag and sleeping pad separate. They can individually fit into the nooks and crannies. All your personal items and extra clothes must fit inside the provided large-sized dry bag. Your rain gear, hat, gloves, camera, etc. is packed in the medium-sized dry bag – this is stowed between your legs for easy access while kayaking. Your guide helps with packing questions at the orientation meeting and gives out dry bags. Extra luggage is stored on San Juan Island until you return.
  • Plastic bags are the key to keeping clothing and gear dry. Please line the inside of your sleeping bag stuff sack with a large hefty bag. Consider using resealable plastic bags to keep wet clothes separate from dry clothes, or simply use the dry bags provided by your guides.
  • If you are taking a floatplane to/from Friday Harbor, note that a weight limit on luggage (usually a 24-pound maximum) will be strictly enforced. Excess baggage charges will apply.

Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
REI AdventuresSan Juan Islands Family Adventure
 
5.0

(based on 3 reviews)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Activity level (3)
  • Exceeded expectations (3)
  • Guides (3)
  • Well organized itinerary (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
        • Active adventures (3), Destination (3), Good value (3), I liked the itinerary (3), Travel with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts (3)

      Reviewed by 3 customers

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      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great family trip

      By hike_PA

      from Philadelphia, PA

      About Me Avid Adventurer

      See all my reviews

      Site Member

      Pros

      • Accommodations
      • Activity Level
      • Exceeded Expectations
      • Guides
      • Once in a Lifetime Experience
      • Quality Equipment Provided
      • Well Organized Itinerary

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about REI Adventures San Juan Islands Family Adventure:

          Guides, food, itinerary, gear, scenery, etc. were great. Highly recommended.

          • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
          • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
          • Why did you choose this trip?:
          • Looking for a family trip with diverse and fun itinerary in a beautiful area of the country.
          • What was the highlight of your trip?:
          • A beautiful area of the country. Lunch on an isolated beach. The guide plucking a starfish out of the water and passing it around to the kids. Kayak overnight expedition was an adventure for the kids. One night camping was just enough fun for them. Seeing Orcas while eating off Lime Kiln Point.
          • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
          • Candidly assess your ability to paddle yourself and an idle youngster for several hours. Younger children will likely become bored or tired and stop paddling 30 minutes into a multi-hour kayak ride. Make sure you are in shape and exercise in the weeks leading up to the trip. Arrive 24 hours in advance so you have time to get settled in and recover from your journey to San Juan. Spend that first night at the Lakeside Lodge (where you spend the first few nights of the trip anyway) rather than staying in Friday Harbor as REI suggests. There are few and highly overpriced hotel options in Friday Harbor, whereas the Lakeside Lodge is gorgeous. Just make sure you work out transportation details w/ REI the first official morning of your trip. Make sure you have layers for the overnight camping trip on Turn Island. No fires allowed and when the sun goes down, the ocean breeze will chill you quick.

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          A great time was had by all!

          By Judy, Chuck,

          from Minnetonka, MN

          About Me Casual Adventurer

          Pros

          • Activity Level
          • Exceeded Expectations
          • Food
          • Group Camaraderie
          • Guides
          • Once in a Lifetime Experience
          • Well Organized Itinerary

          Cons

            Best Uses

              Comments about REI Adventures San Juan Islands Family Adventure:

              The guides, Canyon and Don, were excellent!

              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
              • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
              • Why did you choose this trip?:
              • My family wanted a trip that was active and that all of us would enjoy. In addition, my husband and I went on a REI adventure trip in 1998 and we had a good time.
              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
              • First, the guides were the best. They were exceptionally good with all the kids on the trip. The most enjoyable part was when we did was the overnight campout on Jones Island.
              • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
              • Either book a hotel a day before and a day after the trip on Friday Harbor or take the clipper. It takes a while to get there from Seatle via shuttle and ferry.

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              San Juan Island Family Trip

              By JohnVMurray

              from St petersburg Florida

              About Me Casual Adventurer

              Pros

              • Accommodations
              • Activity Level
              • Exceeded Expectations
              • Food
              • Group Camaraderie
              • Guides
              • Well Organized Itinerary

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about REI Adventures San Juan Islands Family Adventure:

                  We had wonderful weather and great guides who worked well with teens. The activity level was geared for the average person but there was opportunity to do more if you wanted.

                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                  • Active Adventures, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                  • Why did you choose this trip?:
                  • The dates,location, and activity level were what we were looking for
                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                  • The overnight kayak trip was incredible. We really enjoyed the guides Don and Canyon and we highly recommend them both. They were great with all the teens we had on our trip.
                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                  • This is a great way to experience the San Juan islands for the first time. Put this one on your must do list. Great for families with children ages 10 -18.

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