San Juan Island's Original Sea Kayak Outfitters & Guides Since 1980
San Juan Kayak Gear

About Us

Why We're the Best...

Come Join Us For Our 40 Season!

We are a small, local company.  We have lived and kayaked in these islands for thirty-nine years! Owner and founder Tim Thomsen has guided multi-day sea kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands for thirty-four years and, along with wife Sally, is involved in training of staff and the daily operations.

No other company can offer you that kind of experience. If you paddle with us, you’ll be paddling in our backyard.  Our professional guides have the training, knowledge, experience and judgement to insure a safe, fulfilling and educational day or multi-day sea kayak journey.

Our unprecedented  safety record is a reflection of our experience, judgement, quality equipment and observational skills. Our guides are highly trained, professional, experienced and fun.  They are first aid and CPR certified. Our record of 38 years stands alone. We carry all safety equipment(flares, GPS, chart, VHF radio, cell phone, first aid kit, etc.).

We use only new, state-of-the-art, two-person, rudder-controlled sea kayaks(Seascape II by Northwest Kayaks), lightweight fiberglass paddles(Camano by Werner Paddles), top quality, comfortable and dry spray skirts(Snap Dragon Designs)and comfortable life jackets(Sabre by Extrasport). We also supply you with a Therma-Rest inflatable seat cushion while paddling, cockpit covers to keep things dry inside your kayak at night, new Kelty two-person tents and, just in case, a quality rain tarp, plus light-weight nylon hammocks for our comfort in camp. Each year we buy new kayaks with new paddles for our expedition fleet.  Our kayaks will handle adverse conditions safely.

 We take pride that our equipment is the best out there, and so will you!!

Because we are a small operation, we are able to keep our prices low without sacrificing service, quality of equipment and professionalism. We run a well organized yet simple operation honed by experience, and that means a positive experience for you at an affordable rate.

All meals are made with fresh ingredients and are wholesome, delicious and nutritious and there is plenty of it!

  • Fresh garden salad, smoked salmon tortellini, pasta and pesto fettucine, our original recipe clam chowder and our signature world famous Baja Norte Burrito with made-from-scratch guacamole (bring Mexican attire) make our evening meals fun!
  • Breakfasts include gourmet pressed coffee (from San Juan Roasting Company), cocoa, fresh melons, bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges along with yogurt, raisins, super-nutty granola, cinnamon raisin bagels, cream cheese, strawberry preserves and oatmeal.  These get-up-and-go breakfasts allow us to get on the water in time to catch the tide or encounter a pod of orca whales.

Our meals are active and fun.  You’ll enjoy every bite!

We are a sea kayaking outfitter.  For thirty-eight years, we have offered only quality sea kayaking/camping adventures in the San Juan Islands. We concentrate on one thing: giving you the safest and most rewarding sea kayaking experience possible!

The small size and professional nature of our company mean we can give you the personal attention necessary to make your kayak experience a positive one. Owners Tim and Sally answer your e-mail and telephone inquiries personally and greet and assist each guest upon arrival at our sea kayak center kiosk.

We believe that small groups allow for low environmental impact and a more intimate relationship between guests, guides and the natural world.  A small group of paddlers is safe and responsible while promoting an active social interaction.

Yes, laughter is an important aspect of our trips that sets them apart. Perhaps it is the nature of our website, the clients who come to us via word-of-mouth or just our bubbly personalities that attract fun people, but everyone just seems to bring along a sense of humor. Our trips are full of variety: relaxing, action-packed and totally fun. Possibly the sorest part of your body after paddling one, two, three, four or five days with us just may be your cheeks (facial, that is)!

Our Two-Day Whale Sanctuary, Three-Day Coastal Explorer and Four-Day Islands Adventurer expeditions spend a final night camped on the edge of orca whale country and spend two days (Whale Sanctuary) or one and a half days exploring prime orca habitat. This gives you the best odds possible of encountering orcas in the wild. Viewing “killer whales” from a kayak is one of the most exciting wildlife experiences you will ever have. Our  nearly four decades of whale watching experience will put you in a front row seat! The five-day “Ultimate” traverses channels and bays frequently inhabited by humpback, minke and orca whales. Our Whales Ho! Half Day tour and our Whales Ho! Full Day tour take you to the heart of orca country, and, with a little luck, you will paddle with whales! Our Whales Ho! tours launch from San Juan County Park on San Juan Island’s west side where orca pods hunt salmon. Let’s go whale watching!

We have devised and patented a safe, lightweight and easy to use spinnaker complete with a forward viewing window that allows each kayak to sail with the wind at exciting speeds only on our guided, multi-day trips. Anyone can sail. You will receive professional instruction on how to safely and efficiently use the wind to propel your double kayak through the sea. Our patented sailing system is no gimmick and definitely raises our expeditions to an exciting new level of adventure. No other outfitter offers this unique alternative to paddling. It’s a total rush and makes kayaking a breeze (pun intended).

Our two-day Whale Sanctuary and Orca Quest overnighters, our three-day Coastal Explorer and four-day Islands Adventurer trips spend a final night camped on the edge of orca whale habitat on an island reserved exclusively for San Juan Kayak Expeditions. This small, island jewel will be ours for a night. Our The “Ultimate” 5 – day adventure takes you to some of the most remote and spectacular campsites in the San Juan Islands. Enjoy.

Every evening of each multi-day trip we enjoy a leisurely sunset paddle or hike and often an evening bioluminescent paddle. These special moments are always a highlight of our expeditions. Looking west into Canada from our elevated mossy bluff or from our floating kayaks, the serenity is palpable. As we enjoy the magic of the day’s last light, seals and porpoise feed around us while sea birds make their daily evening flights to their roosting sites. As night falls, our seclusion is complete. Upon our return to camp in the dusk, let’s light the campfire and share a few tales of our travels.

After dark on calm evenings, the night-owl in us comes out as we paddle our kayaks through bursts of neon green bioluminescent seas. This spectacle of nature will be just another part of your experience you will never forget!

We have called these islands home since 1978, and feel that they and local wildlife are worth protecting. For this reason, our expeditions emphasize low-impact camping. Only by treating each beach, each campsite, each hiking trail and each creature with care and respect can we justify our passage.

Our groups average six to eight and NEVER exceed ten guests. We leave each campsite cleaner than when we arrived. Evening fires use beach driftwood only and are kept small.

As self-appointed stewards of these islands, we paddle to the Kayak Education & Leadership Program (K.E.L.P.) code to help protect marine wildlife. Upon conclusion of each trip, participants are proud, not only of what they have accomplished together, but also of what little trace we have left behind from our voyage.

Are you bringing clothes, gear or luggage that you don’t need for the kayak trip? You may leave them at our secure storage locker at our kiosk for the duration.  If you have bicycles, let us know and we will arrange for you to store them at our shop while .you are away.  Your stuff will be awaiting you at trips’ end.

Kayak Sailing San Juan Islands

Founded in 1980 and located in Friday Harbor, we are the San Juan Islands’ original sea kayaking outfitter.  Top of the line equipment, fun, knowledgeable and professional guides and comprehensive customer service make us the best in the business!

San Juan Kayak Expeditions, now in its 39th season, is a small, innovative, ecology-minded, owner-operated, one-of-a-kind kayak touring company which makes its home in the San Juan Islands.

  • It is a company whose  guides are experienced island paddlers and outdoor naturalists!
  • It is an outfitter that offers a most exciting addition to the sport – sea kayak sailing!
  • It is an outfitter whose owner has led over 450 multi-day trips in the San Juan Islands and has paddled more miles here than anyone on the planet!
  • It is a local, well-respected company that specializes in guided 3, 4, and 5 day multi-day sea kayaking expeditions; guided half-day and full day tours in Griffin Bay; kayaking day tours with whales on San Juan Island’s west side and multi-day rentals!
  • Our two,  three and four day trips spend a day and a half in prime orca whale territory, and give you the best chance to paddle with our resident pods!

We love and respect the natural beauty of this small corner of the world. Our enthusiasm for these islands has allowed us to share them with you!


All photos in our website have been contributed by past guests. Thanks to all who have shared their experience! And special thanks to guest Philip Robinson for his fun pics.

Contact Info

San Juan Kayak Expeditions
Tim and Sally Thomsen, Owners/Operators since 1980
PO Box 2041
275 A St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA
Open 7 days a week for questions & reservations.

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