- Get a taste of island life while hiking, kayaking, and cycling the San Juans
- Enjoy an overnight kayak tour, local farm visit, and whale watching excursion
- Dine on fresh, locally-source meals and stay at a lovely mix of accommodations
- Relax among snowcapped peaks, bountiful islands, and beautiful beaches
Washington's spectacular San Juan Islands are a nature-lover's paradise. Great snowcapped peaks rise all around as scores of marine mammals and shorebirds bask on the craggy shorelines. Whales and dolphins feed and play in the protected waters while hikers, cyclists, and paddlers enjoy the quiet and gentle pace of island life.
Look forward to some of the islands' most scenic hikes featuring panoramic views of the surrounding islands and peaks. Bike the quiet back roads of Orcas Island and soak in the amazing 360-degree view from the highest peak in the San Juans. Kayak in search of seals and sea lions, whales and more. Then, back on San Juan Island, enjoy more paddling excursions and day hikes or an unforgettable whale watching tour on one of the islands' most environmentally friendly boats as we search for resident Orca whales.
Dine on locally-sourced, organic meals prepared fresh daily by our guides throughout the trip while we stay at deluxe tented camps, outstanding lodges, and even spend a night island camping.
Traveling with kids under 18? Check out our San Juan Islands Family Adventure.
- Day 1 - Welcome to Friday Harbor. Travel to Roche Harbor for a lovely paddle.
- Day 2 - Bike the farms and orchards of Orcas Island and up Mt. Constitution.
- Day 3 - Overnight kayak tour to Stuart Island. Camp near the beach.
- Day 4 - Paddle back to San Juan Island through protected wildlife refuges.
- Day 5 - Go on an amazing whale watching tour and visit unique farms.
- Day 6 - Enjoy a final paddle to Henry Island before returning to Friday Harbor.
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 - Welcome to Friday Harbor. Travel to Roche Harbor for a lovely 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. Enjoy introductions and a brief orientation, then we're whisked away to Roche Harbor 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 delicious picnic lunch. After our kayaking adventure, we'll return to San Juan Island and check into our comfortable canvas tent cabins at Lakedale Resort. Enjoy the first of many freshly prepared meals expertly prepared by your guides. Lunch and dinner included.
Sea Kayaking: 1-3 hours; Open water with waves, tides, currents.
Day 2 - Bike the farms and orchards of Orcas Island and up Mt. Constitution.
After breakfast at Lakedale provided by your REI guides, we head to the ferry terminal for a short and scenic ferry ride to Orcas Island for a day of exploration by bike. From the ferry terminal we ride north along Orcas road before turning onto a quieter, lesser travelled route to the Eastern Lobe of Orcas Island. The route meanders through Crow Valley, past family farms and tidy orchards. Our first stop today will be a visit to Eastsound, a charming small community on Orcas Island. We'll stop for snacks and to rest a bit before riding on to Moran State Park for a visit to the summit of Mt. Constitution - the highest point in the San Juan Islands. We'll picnic on the shores of Cascade Lake, then ambitious riders may choose to bike to the summit of Mt. Constitution while those looking for a more relaxed afternoon can ride up in the van. From Cascade Lake, the optional summit cycle route heads east and immediately begins climbing. While the route is only 5 miles, it climbs almost 2000 feet over that distance. There are many places to pull over for breaks, and the scenery is truly incredible as the road climbs through some of the only old growth forest in the San Juan Islands. Anyone attempting the ride that changes their mind can catch the support vehicle at any point along the route to the lookout. Once the entire group has reached the summit, we'll take some time to enjoy the stunning 360 degree view and refuel the quads before loading up the van and heading back down the mountain. Once we are back at Cascade Lake, for any particularly strong cyclists in the group, the option to ride an additional 19 miles to our dinner spot is available. We will enjoy a hearty and delicious meal prepared by our guides before hopping a ferry back to San Juan Island. All meals included.
Cycling: Options from 19 miles or less up to 43 (including an optional 5 mile, 2000 ft climb) / 4-6 hours; Paved roads with some rolling hills and one optional very steep section.
Day 3 - Overnight kayak tour to Stuart Island. Camp near the beach.
Today we set out for an overnight self-supported kayak tour from Roche Harbor to Stuart Island and back. On this first day, we'll transfer to Roche Harbor and pack our boats for the journey. Paddling north into Speiden Channel, we're quickly free from the harbor and immersed in the surrounding wilderness. Crossing Speiden Channel, we'll explore the shorelines of Speiden and Sentinal islands before heading into Stuart Island Marine Park to establish our camp for the night. We'll have the option to relax in camp or hike to Turn Point Lighthouse – considered by many to be among the most scenic overlooks in the Pacific Northwest. We'll return to camp after the hike and enjoy another amazing dinner. All meals included.
Sea Kayaking: 7-10 miles / 4-5 hours; Open water with waves, tides, currents. Hiking: 4 miles / 3-4 hours.
Day 4 - Paddle back to San Juan Island through protected wildlife refuges.
After breakfast, we break camp and load the boats for another day of exploration by sea kayak as we return to 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 interesting invertebrate and plant life in the tide pools. We'll have lunch on a remote beach on the northern shore of San Juan Island then continue paddling around Stuart and into Roche Harbor, arriving mid-afternoon. Transferring back to Lakedale we spend our final two nights at the outstanding Lakedale Lodge & Cottages, whose lovely guestroom accommodations feature a deck, fireplace, jetted tub, wireless internet access and more. On the shores of Neva Lake, Lakedale's Lodge & Cottages is an ideal place to end our adventure and is frequently ranked very high among the best places to stay in the San Juan Islands. We'll celebrate our accomplishments over an outstanding dinner overlooking the lake. All meals included.
Sea Kayaking: 10-12 miles / 4-6 hours; Open water with waves, tides, currents.
Day 5 - Go on an amazing whale watching tour and visit unique farms.
Setting out from the lodge after breakfast, this morning guests have the option to enjoy a guided hike around Mt. Finlayson and Jackles Lagoon, or, join an optional local whale watch tour. On one of the most environmentally friendly boats in the islands, enjoy an expert naturalist's view on the unique and diverse marine life that surrounds us. Whale watching in the San Juan Islands may afford opportunities to view orca whales, humpbacks, fin whales, Dall's porpoise, harbor porpoise and more. There's no telling what you may see in these protected and rich waters. After our morning hike or whale watch tour, we reconvene for a fascinating tour of some very special local farms to learn about sustainable agriculture in the San Juan Islands. We'll tour the farms and learn first hand how to raise Alpacas for wool and how to cultivate fragrant lavender. This insider's view of rural island life is a unique and fascinating component of our San Juan Island adventure. We'll return tonight to Lakedale for a farewell dinner and evening relaxation at their comfortable lodge or cottages. All meals included.
Hiking: 3-5 miles / 2-4 hours. Optional whale watch tour (included in trip cost).
Day 6 - Enjoy a final paddle to Henry Island before returning to Friday Harbor.
We'll make the most of our final day beginning with breakfast at Lakedale Lodge before entrusting our luggage to the guides then setting out for Roche Harbor. To end our trip on a high note, we'll enjoy another spectacular day of paddling in the northwest as we kayak to English Camp in the Northwest corner of San Juan Island. English camp is a National Historic Park as it was here in the mid-1800s that Great Britain and the United States settled ownership of the island after what has become known as the Pig War. Those not wishing to kayak can join one of the guides for a hike up Mt. Young to enjoy views of Vancouver Island, the Olympic range and the Gulf Islands, before rendezvousing with the group at English Camp. We'll plan to return to Friday Harbor between 3 p.m. and 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.
Sea Kayaking: 7-10 miles / 2-4 hours; Open water with waves, tides, currents. Hiking: 1.5 miles / 2-3 hours; 800 ft. elevation gain/loss.
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.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Camping permits and associated fees; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary; all tent camping, tent-cabin and lodge/cottage accommodations; all group camping equipment (tents, cooking gear, utensils, etc.); all kayaking equipment and dry bags; bikes and bike helmets; optional Whale Watch cruise on Day 5.
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;; items of a personal nature including guide gratuities.
This trip is rated Moderate . 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.
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.
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 Multisport 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. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
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.
- Tandem (two person) kayaks
- 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
- Sleeping bag liner
- Cooking gear
- Bicycles and helmets
- Gel seat Cover
- Group first-aid kit
- Photo identification
- Airline tickets
- Duffel bag (wheels and retractable handle are fine)
- Daypack (2500 cu. inches) or large fanny pack for lunch, camera, water, etc.
- Passport security pouch or belt
- Luggage tags
- Rain jacket with hood, waterproof and breathable
- Rain pants, waterproof and breathable
- Small waterproof pack cover for your daypack
- Light weight hiking boots
- Comfortable shoes for cycling
- Wetsuit booties or water sport sandals for kayaking
- Sweater or jacket, wool or fleece
- Midweight thermal underwear top and bottom
- T-shirts (no cotton)
- Long sleeve shirt
- Hiking pants
- Hiking shorts
- Padded cycling shorts
- Wool or synthetic hiking socks
- Wool or fleece hat for warmth
- 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 with spare batteries
- Insect repellent
- Camera and film
- Bicycle helmet (if you prefer to bring your own -- helmets are provided)
- Dry bag for personal gear (small)
- Small binoculars (7x or 8x is best)
- Biking gloves
- Paddling 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.