San Juan Islands Kayaking – Orcas Island to Sucia Island | Under 35

Trip Length 3 Days
Group Size 4–12
Activity level
Starting from
$1,199 for REI Members
$1,299 for non-members
Departures Jul 2023-Sep 2024

Explore the heart of the San Juans’ outer islands on this 3-day expedition kayaking adventure. Designed especially for travelers aged 18–35 (but anyone over 18 can join!).

Considered by many to be the crown jewel of Washington’s beloved San Juan Islands, Sucia Island has played a significant role in the cultural and natural history of the larger archipelago. From its original caretakers, the historic Coast Salish peoples, to modern day environmentalists, centuries of inhabitants and visitors have been mesmerized by this small group of islands.

Unplugged from the buzz of everyday life, it’s easy to slip into the quiet rhythm of Sucia Island. Spend three days immersed in this world of remote coves, forested trails, sandstone rock formations, and jaw-dropping views. Glide through rich waters where sightings of Steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and bald eagles are commonplace. Feast on hearty meals and fall asleep to the hypnotic sounds of the ocean. Throughout our expedition our expert backcountry guides provide invaluable insights and leadership, helping us make the most of our time on this remarkable island chain.

Tandem kayaks provide the perfect vessel for our 3-day expedition.

Trip Highlights

  • Kayak through the emerald-green waters of the Salish Sea
  • Search for countless species that call this remarkable biologically rich area home
  • Learn the ins and outs of an expedition kayaking adventure from expert guides
  • Enjoy fresh backcountry meals inspired by the bounty of the Pacific Northwest
  • Travel with like-minded, 18–35 year-old adventurers


This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3–4]. 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.


Island camping, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Kayaking – Orcas Island to Sucia Island | Under 35
Day 1

Kayak from Orcas Island to Sucia Island Marine State Park

Our journey starts this morning on Orcas Island. After quick introductions we take our van shuttle to North Beach where our guides give us a kayaking orientation and distribute group gear. We then pack our personal belongings into provided dry-bags and prepare our tandem kayaks for the journey. The route from Orcas to Sucia gives us our first glimpse at the gorgeous remote island chain which makes up the "Sucia Group". We’ll take a break to explore Fossil Bay on foot, searching for fossils from the Cretaceous Period dating back approximately 70 million years. Slipping our boats back into the water, we keep an eye out for the birds and marine life that call this area home. Once on Sucia we work as a team to transport our gear and boats to shore before setting up our comfy home away from home. Lunch and dinner included.

Kayaking: 5-7 miles (3–4 hours)

Day 2

Kayak to Matia Island Marine State Park and hike the island’s interior loop trail

After a peaceful night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we hop in our boats and head out for an exploration on and around Matia Island (pronounced ma-TEE-ah). True to its designation as part of the San Juan Island’s National Wildlife Refuge, a diverse range of birds, marine and land mammals call this area home. On Matia we stretch our legs with a 1-mile loop hike through old growth forest before enjoying a hearty oceanside lunch. Once back on Sucia we can relax in camp, meditate on the edge of a quiet cove or wander along a nearby trail to catch the sunset. All meals included.

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

Day 3

Enjoy sunrise and coffee before our final kayak back to North Beach

We welcome the sunrise with a steaming mug of coffee and breakfast. As our last day together begins to unfold, we reflect on our incredible expedition and compare notes on our favorite parts of the journey. We break down our tents and load gear into our kayaks in preparation for the paddle back to North Beach. We take our time during this last stretch of our expedition, fully engaging our senses during our last hours together. At North Beach we enjoy a picnic lunch before our van ride back to Eastsound and the ferry terminal. Breakfast and lunch included.

Kayaking: 6–8 miles (3–4 hours)

Itinerary map for San Juan Islands Kayaking – Orcas Island to Sucia Island | Under 35

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

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.

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.