San Juan Islands Family Kayaking Weekend

Trip Length3 Days
Group Size4–14
Activity level
Starting from
$1,099 for REI Members
$1,199 for non-members
DeparturesJul 2024-Aug 2024

Let us handle the hassle while you and your family enjoy a weekend kayaking and exploring the beautiful San Juan Islands.

Home to extraordinary biodiversity, and overflowing with rich natural and human history, the San Juan Islands are a quintessential living, breathing classroom. Equally well known as a world-class kayaking destination, the archipelago is likewise prized for its countless paddling routes. During our four days on the islands, we search for countless marine and wildlife species, learn the history of the native Salish tribe, perfect our paddle strokes, and travel through one of the world’s most fantastic marine ecosystems.

By night a beautiful campsite on Jones Island State Park serves as our lovely home-away-from-home. After a full day of kayaking, intrepid kiddos can continue exploring its wooded trails and quiet coves. Or they can hang back and play games at camp with new friends. As the sun sets, we cozy up fireside for delicious family-friendly meals, reflecting on the once-in-a-lifetime memories we’re making. By the time we set foot back in Roche Harbor we’ll be counting the days until our next visit to the amazing San Juan Islands.

Making s’mores at our beachfront campfire.

Trip Highlights

  • Paddle the Cascadia Marine Trail to your family’s shoreside campsite on Jones Island
  • Learn about tide tables, navigation, and charting routes from expert guides
  • Search for sea lions, otters, porpoise and countless other marine animals
  • Feast on family-friendly meals inspired by local and regional ingredients
  • Spend evenings around the campfire with fellow nature-loving families


This trip is rated Moderate [3]. We will be kayaking up to 8-10 miles (up to 5 hours) a day. 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 participate in all components of this adventure. They should have previous experience with open water kayaking and be comfortable kayaking up to 5 hours in tides, currents, wind, and weather. 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 an up to 20' kayak on their own under said conditions.

  • Sea Kayaking

What's Included

Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; group transfers once on trip; camping and paddling gear as indicated on gearlist; tandem kayaks (no singles).


Primitive island camping, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Family Kayaking Weekend
Day 1

Paddle from Roche Harbor to our oceanside camp on Jones Island

Meet your group in Friday Harbor this morning before a short transfer to historic Roche Harbor. Here our guides conduct an orientation, give a safety briefing and cover key lessons around marine navigation. We then transfer our belongings to the provided dry bags, pack up our kayaks and enjoy our first lunch together before setting off on the water. Accessible only by boat and part of the Cascadia Marine Trail, Jones Island State Park serves as our home-away-from-home for the next two nights. After crossing San Juan Channel and arriving on this beautiful island oasis we set up camp and enjoy a well-deserved dinner. Lunch and dinner included.

Kayaking: 3 hours

Day 2

Spend the morning paddling the Wasp Islands before an afternoon stop in charming Deer Harbor

Our day on the water begins by exploring a small group of islands clustered within the San Juan archipelago. Home to a remarkable array of biodiversity and a rich cultural history, the Wasp Islands offer families an ideal outdoor classroom. Our expert guides spend time enlightening our group on how this tiny of cluster of islands became such an important part of coastal Native American life, and help us understand the role the San Juan Islands play in a healthy Pacific Northwest marine ecosystem today. Later this afternoon we’ll kayak to the tiny hamlet of Deer Harbor, where we’ll stretch our legs and enjoy a snack. We wrap up the day by kayaking back to our camp on Jones Island, where we can relax around camp or explore on our own before dinner. All meals included.

Kayaking: 4–5 hours

Day 3

Search for whales en route to Roche Harbor before bidding the San Juans farewell

After packing up camp and loading our kayaks, we’re off on our final journey through San Juan Channel. We take our time retracing our route from Jones Island to Roche Harbor. With much of the saltwater and shoreline in the islands being a protected wildlife refuge, this is a perfect last-minute opportunity to watch for eagles, seals, porpoise, orcas and countless other species that call this archipelago home. We celebrate our wonderful three days with a tasty lunch before unpacking back at Roche Harbor. The trip concludes with a fond farewell to new friends and the San Juan Islands back at the Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal late this afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included.

Kayaking: 4 hours

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Family Kayaking Weekend

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.

Provided by REI

  • 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.