San Juan Outfitters takes kayak tours through orca territory

Frequently Asked Questions

Why choose San Juan Outfitters?

San Juan Outfitters is widely considered San Juan Islands premier sea kayak and whale watch tour company. This reputation developed from a commitment to the highest level of guest service, and our two exclusive sea kayak and whale watch facilities at Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. From these locations we can provide the safest tours offering the highest chances of seeing whales and other wildlife. We are also the only company specializing in family tours with K-12 educators on staff.

What clothing should I wear?

Dress for changing weather conditions. Make sure you have a hat, sunglasses, extra layers, and a wind or rain shell. For kayaking, we always recommend guests avoid wearing very heavy cotton materials, such as jeans or sweat pants. Comfortable and sturdy sports sandals, such as Chacos or Tevas are ideal. Extra layers can be packed into provided dry bags.

Do you provide food or drinks on any of your day-trip tours?

We do not provide any concessions during our kayak day-trips. It helps keep our costs down for our guests! Please feel free to bring snacks, beverages, or even a small cooler. However, we ask that you do not bring any alcoholic beverages, smoking materials, or tobacco on our tours.

Where do we check-in for our kayak tour?

Meet us at our exclusive departure location at Roche Harbor about 15 minutes before your departure time for a sea kayak tour. San Juan Outfitters is located on the rightmost dock in front of the Hotel de Haro at the Roche Harbor Resort.

What is the advantage of departing from Roche Harbor?

San Juan Outfitters is the exclusive sea kayak and whale watch provider at Roche Harbor, perched on the northwest corner of San Juan Island. Our exclusive location and facility allows sea kayakers to get in and out of the kayaks with ease using custom finger slips – no getting wet and muddy! As the only tour operator on the north end of the island, the waterways are far less congested and much more peaceful. With direct access to the Haro Strait your chances of sea kayaking with killer whales are best with us. Leaving from Roche Harbor also takes guests past three national wildlife refuges with ample opportunities to view Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, and lots of invertebrate life.

What are our chances of viewing whales by sea kayak?

By offering two different 5 hour tours that run in known orca territory and having 3 different whale watch vessels on the water daily to communicate with, we can safely say we see orcas by kayak more than any other company. San Juan Outfitters offers a 5-hour kayak tour around Henry Island (the only 5 hour trip that is a true loop = no repeat terrain) which takes guests through areas that are frequented by orcas. San Juan Outfitters is also the only company that has a point-to-point tour from San Juan County Park on the west side of San Juan Island to Roche Harbor, allowing for maximized time in the proposed Killer Whale Sanctuary. While orca encounters do happen, it is important to remember orcas can travel up to 100 miles per day and over 30mph, and you will be paddling in a small section of their habitat. If encountering orcas is on your bucket list, consider joining our Adventure Whale Watch and Wildlife tour by vessel to maximize your percentage of sucess to encounter whales. Guests receive discounts for booking multiple tours!

Is there a guide on the kayak tour?

There sure is! At San Juan Outfitters all of our sea kayak tours are guided by our highly trained professionals. Guides attend safety and skills courses and are considered some of the best trained in the industry. As industry professionals our guides attend and hold regular trainings to practice emergency situations, study weather, tides and currents. Our guides are valued for their high level of customer service in addition to their knowledge of our local ecosystem, and the flora and fauna that call this region their home. From sea stars to orca whales, San Juan Outfitters' sea kayak guides can answer any question.

Can we take young children on kayak tours?

With San Juan Outfitters' exclusive location in Roche Harbor we are able to accommodate younger children on kayak tours with minimum exposure. This is not true with other companies who are limited to public launch sites with access to only exposed waterways. We take children as young as 6 on our family-specific kayak tours. By departing from Roche Harbor we have access to several wildlife refuges and Posey Island State Park, where we can go tide-pooling and exploring. San Juan Outfitters' sea kayak guides are excellent instructors with children and make the tour fun for all ages. Touching sea stars, eating kelp, and paddling with harbor seals are just a few highlights. Don't worry, this isn't a kiddy kayak tour!

What kind of kayaks do we use on the tours?

San Juan Outfitters uses state of the art fiberglass kayaks made here in Washington State. A high quality fiberglass sea kayak is stable, fast, and comfortable. Guests use either double or triple kayaks which are great for young children or groups with an odd number. With a short tutorial, even beginners will be comfortable before leaving the dock.

Do you offer overnight or camping kayak tours?

We sure do! San Juan Outfitters offers more multi-day sea kayak tour options than any other company on San Juan Island. Additionally we offer sea kayak trips that are point to point meaning you never paddle the same terrain twice. Guests have a choice of up to 10 different itineraries in addition to custom tours. Allow our adventure specialists to help you choose a tour based on your priorities: Do you want to have the best chance of seeing whales or does a broader based trip suit your? Would you like to island hop or camp in one location? Do you have children and want minimum exposure and maximum adventure? We can help with all of these questions.

What do we need to bring on an overnight tour?

All guests need to bring on a San Juan Outfitters overnight sea kayak tour are: themselves, personal items, and to be prepared for the trip of a lifetime! San Juan Outfitters overnight kayak tours are all inclusive, so we provide all camping gear, kayak gear, and meals. All our equipment is state of the art including comfy, camp pillows and organic cotton sleeping bag liners. We also work with local fisherman and farmers to provide the highest quality local and regional food to add to your experience. With our very own commercial kitchen, we are able to accommodate any food restrictions and special diets. Guests wake up to fresh brewed and locally roasted coffee. See answers to our most frequently asked multiday tour questions here.

Do you run family-specific multi-day sea kayak tours

Yes! With our exclusive locations in Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor we are able to easily access campsites with short paddles and minimal exposure. We operate family-specific overnight sea kayak tours to Posey Island, Turn Island, Stuart and Jones Island. This is an appropriate and safe activity for families with children 6 and up, and our specialty is planning activities and variety for every member of the family. We can even accommodate picky eaters! Lots of hiking, paddling, tide-pooling, and s'mores.

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Meet our captains, expert marine naturalists, and professional sea kayak guides

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