San Juan Islands Family Adventure

Trip Length5 Days
Group Size4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$3,099 for REI Members
$3,325 for non-members
DeparturesJul 2024-Aug 2025

Hike, bike and kayak on this 5-day family friendly adventure in the San Juan Islands.

Tucked away in the northwest corner of the United States, the San Juan Islands are an unforgettable destination to bring the whole family. This trip was designed to perfectly balance adventure, education and relaxation with an itinerary that includes scenic hikes, fun bike rides, whale watching, and an overnight kayak tour to Jones Island.

Start things off on an educational foot with a visit to the Whale Museum. Learn about the amazing marine mammals of the Salish Sea before we encounter some of them over the next few days of our journey. Bike along the gently rolling hills of Roche Harbor road, see wooly alpacas grazing in their fields, and get up close with living invertebrates in a marine biology research lab on San Juan Island. On an overnight kayak tour to Jones Island State Park, head into the San Juan Channel and tour several beautiful islands. With the help of our wonderful guides, we bring the natural wonder of the islands to life.

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

Making s’mores at our beachfront campfire.

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 a marine biology research lab and explore the Whale Museum

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. We will be kayaking up to 8 miles (up to 4 hours), cycling up to 12 miles (up to 4 hours) and hiking up to 2 miles (1 hour). Please note that while our minimum age is 8 years old for this trip, that is based on a child who is able to actively able to participate in all components of this adventure. They should have previous experience with kayaking and cycling and comfortable kayaking up to 4 hours in open water where tides, currents, wind, and weather can significantly impact conditions. Should a child struggle or be incapable of helping to propel a tandem kayak in these types of conditions, their parent or legal guardian will need to be skilled and fit enough to paddle a 20' kayak on their own under said conditions. Likewise, children participating on this adventure will need to be comfortable cycling on trafficked roads with no to little shoulder.

  • Cycling
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Hiking

What's Included

Four nights accommodations; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, utensils, etc.); tandem kayaks (singles are not available) and kayaking equipment; dry bags; bikes and bike helmets; admission to Whale Museum; whale watching cruise; camping permits and associated fees.

Accommodations

Furnished canvas tent-cabins, 2 nights; island camping, 1 night; log cabins (shared), 1 night.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Family Adventure
Day 1

Start with a visit to the Whale Museum and take an afternoon paddle

Our trip begins today in Friday Harbor, Washington, located in the spectacular San Juan Islands archipelago. Meet your guides and fellow travelers at the Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal. After a visit to the Whale Museum, which supports stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea, we transfer to Roche Harbor for lunch. This afternoon we enjoy a kayak trip on the north end of San Juan Island and learn how everything in the 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. After our introductory paddle, we check into our comfortable canvas tent cabins at Lakedale Resort. Tonight's dinner, made with locally sourced ingredients, in prepared by your guides. Lunch and dinner included.

Sea Kayaking: 2.5 hours on open water with waves, tides, currents.

Day 2

Bike on San Juan Island and visit a marine biology research lab

Departing from Lakedale on our bicycles, we ride on rolling hills past many small family farms. Herds of woolly alpacas, close relatives of the llama family, can be seen grazing in their fields. Arriving at San Juan County Park we take in the panoramic views, then coast down to Lime Kiln Park to watch for whales while eating a picnic lunch. Our next stop is a marine biology research lab for a tour of the underwater world of San Juan Island. This is our chance to observe living invertebrates, touching and interacting with a wide variety of the animals living in the intertidal zones of the island's shore. We return to our tent cabins with free time to explore the resort before gathering for dinner. All meals included.

Cycling: 12 miles (3-4 hours) on paved and gravel roads with rolling hills and a few steeper sections. Fully van supported. Option to add 12 miles.

Day 3

Overnight kayak tour to Jones Island Marine State Park

Following breakfast we pack into provided dry bags and prepare for an overnight camping excursion. We paddle our kayaks into the San Juan Channel to tour several beautiful islands, including Yellow Island and the Wasp Islands. Reaching Jones Island, we set up camp in the Marine State Park. This afternoon we relax at camp, enjoy an afternoon hike around the island, or visit a nearby low bank beach to cool off in the 48 degree water! The guides prepare a delicious backcountry dinner. The day concludes with an optional hike to the western viewpoint for a blazing San Juan sunset. All meals included.

Sea Kayaking: 5 miles (3-4 hours) on open water with waves, tides, currents. Optional hiking: 1 mile (1 hour).

Day 4

Kayak back to San Juan Island; explore tide pools and look for wildlife

We pack our gear into our kayaks, then paddle across San Juan Channel towards the north side of San Juan Island. We'll watch for eagles, seals, porpoise and orca whales; much of the saltwater and shoreline in the islands is a protected wildlife refuge so sightings of birds and mammals is a regular occurrence. Following the coastline, we peer into tide pools to see many of the invertebrates we learned about at the marine biology lab. After our picnic lunch we continue paddling to Roche Harbor; the total distance (typically between 5-8 miles) depends on the strength and interest of the group. Along the route we'll be refreshed by the outstanding views of the North Cascades and Olympic Mountains. Reaching our takeout point, we unpack the kayaks and return to our cozy log cabins (shared) at Lakedale Resort. The guides prepare another great dinner. All meals included.

Sea Kayaking: 5-8 miles (3-4 hours) on open water with waves, tides, currents.

Day 5

Enjoy a whale watching tour or hike up Mount Young before departing

We board one of the most environmentally friendly boats in the islands to view the diverse marine life that surrounds us. In the company of an expert naturalist we look for orca whales, humpbacks, porpoises and more. Anyone not wishing to join the whale watching tour can join the guides for a scenic hike. The trail leads to the top of Mount Young (650'), where we eat a picnic lunch while taking in panoramic views of San Juan, Canada's Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and beyond. The trip concludes late this afternoon with a transfer to the Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal. Breakfast and lunch included.

Boat cruise: 4 hours. Optional hiking: 2 miles (2 hours) with 650' elevation gain/loss.

Itinerary map for 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. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

Already booked this trip? Sign into your online traveler profile for a more detailed list of what you'll need.

REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

We provide

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.