San Juan Islands Kayaking - Orcas Island to Sucia Island

Trip Length3 Days
Group Size4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$1,299 for REI Members
$1,399 for non-members
DeparturesJun 2024-Sep 2025

Spend 3 days on an extraordinary kayaking expedition through the remote outer San Juan Islands.

At the northern edge of the San Juan Islands sits what many consider the "crown jewel" of the archipelago. With its sculpted sandstone, quiet coves, forested trails and jaw-dropping views, Sucia Island is a captivating escape sitting in the middle of the Salish Sea.

Sucia, along with several smaller islands make up an 800+ acre marine park offering up a remote and enchanting destination. We spend three days paddling through the heart of these outermost San Juan Islands. As we disconnect from the buzz of everyday life and slip into island time we float through emerald-green waters surrounded by some of the most beautiful terrain the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Paddling along rocky shores with the soft sound of the ocean lapping against our boats it's easy to imagine the profound impact this area had on the livelihood of its original stewards, the Coast Salish People. Whether exploring by boat or hiking on foot, our journey to Sucia Island promises to be an expedition we'll never forget.

Emerald green waters and rugged coastlines are the hallmark of Washington’s San Juan Islands.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the crown jewel of the San Juans: Sucia Island
  • Search for wildlife in the biologically diverse waters of the Salish Sea
  • Hone your expedition kayak skills with the help of expert guides
  • Learn about the rich natural and human history of the "Sucia Group"
  • Unplug from everyday life, kayaking quiet coves and hiking old-growth forest

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Trip members should be capable of ocean kayaking for up to 8 hours per day in calm to moderately rough sea and weather conditions. Previous kayaking experience is highly recommended. Swimming skills are required in order to provide a level of comfort and safety when kayaking on open waters. During low tides participants should also be prepared to transport kayaks over longer distances when coming on shore.

  • Kayaking

What's Included

Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; group transfers once trip starts; 3-person tents for double occupancy use for 2 nights' camping; cooking gear and eating utensils; tandem kayaks (no singles); related kayaking equipment including paddles, PFDs and dry bags.

Accommodations

Island camping, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Kayaking - Orcas Island to Sucia Island
Day 1

Paddle from the northern tip of Orcas Island to beautiful Sucia Island

Paddle from the northern tip of Orcas Island to beautiful Sucia Island Welcome to Orcas Island! After rounding up the group, our van shuttles us to North Beach, where our guides provide a kayak orientation and safety briefing before distributing group gear. We then transfer our personal gear into the provided gear bags and pack our kayaks for the journey. Our route to Sucia takes us through portions of the Salish Sea, which stretches from the inner islands of British Columbia down to the southern reaches of the Puget Sound. This biologically rich section is prime habitat for many species, including Steller sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters. We'll take a break to explore Fossil Bay on foot which was once part of Baja California's sea floor and home to marine fossils dating back approximately 70 million years. Upon arrival on Sucia we work as a group to portage our kayaks and gear to shore before setting up our comfortable home away from home. Lunch and dinner included.

Kayaking: 5-7 miles (3-4 hours)

Day 2

Kayak to Matia Island and hike its forested inner loop trail

Today's destination is 145-acre Matia Island Marine State Park (pronounced ma-TEE-ah). As we glide through emerald-green waters we listen for the chatter of bald eagles and the splash of Steller sea lions. On clear days we'll be treated to extraordinary 360° views: up the Strait of Georgia to the Gulf Islands; across the Haro Strait to Vancouver Island; east to Mt. Baker; and south to the larger San Juans. Once on Matia we stretch our legs on the island's one-mile loop trail, which cuts through one of the region's only remaining old growth forests. After a day at sea, we head back to Sucia, where we can relax in camp, meditate on the edge of a quiet cove, or take a short sunset hike. All meals included.

Kayaking: 6-7 miles (4-6 hours); Hiking: 1.1 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +199' / -37'

Day 3

Sunrise coffee and a final paddle back to Orcas

As the sun rises, we sip hot coffee and take a moment to reflect on our good fortune, listening for the call of barred owls with their distinctive "Who cooks for you" hoot. With our bellies full once again, we team up to break down tents, pack our belongings into our kayaks and portage the load to the water. Our last miles on the water are precious and we ease back into the rhythm of the ocean while fully immersing our senses in the final leg of our expedition. Back at North Beach we enjoy a celebratory seaside picnic before shuttling back to Eastsound and the Orcas Island ferry terminal. All meals included.

Kayaking: 6-8 miles (3-4 hours)'

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Kayaking - Orcas Island to Sucia Island

Gear List

We provide

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Dry Bags
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Paddles
  • PFD and Spray Skirt
  • Tandem Kayaks
  • Tent(s)

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.