reserve kayak trip in the san juan islands

About Your Guides

San Juan Kayak Expeditions offers something no other sea kayak outfitter can: an owner/guide who has been leading multi-day sea kayak adventures in the San Juans for 35 years! Using his extensive experience and knowledge, Tim puts each of his carefully chosen guides through five weeks of rigorous training and then an assistant-guide apprenticeship program. When they are ready to lead your trip, you can rest assured that they have a solid foundation of experience and knowledge to make your trip safe(all guides are CPR/first aid certified), educational and adventurous. Our guides are simply the best!  Join us for our 36th!                


Tim Thomsen oldest kayak guide world

Tim(66 yrs.)has been a resident and avid kayaker in the San Juan Islands for thirty-eight years. He has owned and operated San Juan Kayak Expeditions for thirty-five years and has logged over 15,000 miles paddling in the San Juans!  He has personally guided over 450 three and four day sea kayaking expeditions!  His experience with orca whales in local waters is unmatched.  In addition to paddling in the San Juans, he led his own 6 day expeditions in Baja’s Sea of Cortez for thirteen winter seasons. Tim is also a sea kayak sail inventor and patent owner!

A Washington State native with a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture from Washington State University, Tim speaks semi-fluent Spanish and plays classical guitar and alto recorder.  In the off-season Tim builds driftwood birdhouses and plays some serious table tennis and swims three days a week.  He has completed one marathon(one is enough!) and several triathlons. Tim is also a world traveler. He has spent past winters traveling and kayaking through diverse and exotic regions of the globe(Fiji, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica).  His latest expedition was a three week exploration of Nicaragua with wife Sally.

We just wanted to give you extra thanks for working so hard paddling so my wife could feel more secure and enjoy the beautiful scenery during the 3-day trip we took with you last week. Although neither of us was very experienced at kayaking or seamanship we felt safe paddling in the ocean under your experienced and observant leadership, and were very pleased with the individual attention you gave us. We’re glad we took this trip with you instead of the other tour operators. Best Regards and Happy Paddling!”

Jeff & Alicia Bastl
Chicago, Illinois

What an incredible experience and once is a lifetime adventure!  Thank you so very much  for sharing your amazing self with our group.  Not only did you have the skills necessary to guide the trip, but you shared your own unique gifts to make everyone feel involved, cared for and necessary!  And then there were the delicious conversations, music, jokes and camaraderie – please keep making music and making the world a much better place with your intelligence, humor and leadership!”

Seattle, WA


Colby Lyles

Colby Cutting Up!Colby (22 yrs.) comes to us from Georgia where he has achieved a Bachelor of Science degree in Outdoor Education from Georgia State University.  He is an ACA Level II kayak instructor and has completed his instructional strategies of coastal kayaking course.  He is Wilderness First Responder certified and has grown up paddling the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.  He brings an innate ability to understand the ebb and flow of a sea kayaking trip and is able to impart his knowledge to our guests!
Colby has worked as an instructor/counselor at Falling Creek Camp where he led outdoor wilderness expeditions.  We are especially proud of the experience he gained in his younger years while working as a cashier/stocker at a local Piggly Wiggly store!  Here he developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills!:)  He has strong leadership skills, a winning smile and brings some down-home Georgia sensibility to our team!  We are trying to wean him of the habit, but don’t be surprised if Colby addresses you as “sir” or “mam!”:)

I can’t tell you enough how wonderful the trip was for Amanda and me!  It is a wonderful place to visit, and your leadership made it into a truly unforgettable experience for us!  It was a real privilege to have you share your knowledge, experience and passion with us!  Our only regret was that the trip wasn’t longer!”

Robert and Amanda Sharpe
Castro Valley, CA


Will Owen 

Will OwenWill (23 yrs.) is a Pacific Northwest native and a senior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA with a major in marine biology.  His love of sea kayaking has taken him on week-long trips in Canada and Vancouver Island’s rugged west side Broken Group!  He is the only person I know who has paddled through and survived the infamous “Room of Doom” in Washington State’s violent Deception Pass on the northern tip of Whidbey Island!  Will has mastered five different Eskimo rolls in his single kayak and is always happy to demonstrate these techniques in camp.  He has also completed sea kayaking courses with a local branch of The Mountaineers!  He teaches sea kayaking courses locally!

He has worked for two years as a veterinary assistant in Bellingham and has volunteered to work with youth and homeless folks in Chicago, Montana, New Orleans and the Czech Republic! Will’s technical expertise, easy-going and friendly nature and passion for the natural history of the San Juan Islands make him an integral part of our team!

“It was a pleasure paddling with you!  I enjoyed the “lessons” about bull kelp and paddling strokes!  I am impressed by your life story and inspired to stay on the water myself, as it brings me much comfort.  Thank you again for a memorable experience!  The trip was everything I imagined and more!”

Laura Mar
Cambridge, MA

“I just wanted to say thank you for such an amazing trip and experience.  My best friend Kelly and I both didn’t know what to expect and Will surpassed anything we could have asked for! He is an excellent guide and very knowledgeable and fun! Thank you so much for taking us out and making our vacation extra special and memorable! We cant wait to do it again!
Kelly Kennison
Tehachapi, CA

Kevin Soper

KevinKevin (31 yrs.) believes that “The first water you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you of who you are.”   Kevin is a northwest native born along the banks of the beautiful McKenzie River in Oregon.  He has lived a life filled with abundant adventure on the water. He has vast knowledge of local rivers and seas learned from years of white water rafting/kayaking, open water kayaking and fly-fish guiding. He has paddled and rafted the rivers and lakes of the Cascade and Rocky Mts., and kayaked coastal Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico shores.

Kevin’s love for the San Juan’s began over a decade ago and, for the past four years, has called the islands his home.  With a passion for the water, cooking and good western hospitality you will be delighted with his wit and wisdom as he leads you on a sea kayaking adventure through the beautiful Salish Sea and San Juan Archipelago.

Kevin enjoys spending his free time volunteering in the local community, painting, hiking with his dog, and of course boating.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”   — Jacques Yves Cousteau

“I just wanted to say thanks again for a great trip. Learning to kayak, experiencing the moodiness and beauty of the islands from the best place imaginable (the kayak), seeing the sights/wildlife, all the laughs, the great camping food, the beautiful wake-up calls…all made for a fantastic, memorable time. You rock. Thanks!”

Kari Tweiten
St. Paul, MN

“We had a great time kayaking with you! Thank you for sharing your expertise and sense of fun with us.   I hope I can keep a little of your joy of life now that I’m back at my daily grind. You have a true gift for creating a sense of trust and community among perfect strangers. Good luck and light winds.”

Virginia Mohl
Red Lodge, MT


Ty Rilleau 

Ty is at home in any ocean setting!Ty (28 yrs.) has a long history on the water. He grew up kayaking in Cape Cod Bay, learned to kayak when he was seven years old and moved on to white water kayaking when he was 12. He competed at a national level in white water slalom, achieving 6th place at the Junior Olympics in 2001.  For several years, Ty kayaked to work and back while living on his sailboat.  He was a part of Adventure Quests development team for white water slalom racing and freestyle kayaking for many years.

Though he has gained aptitude in many professional fields since then (cheese monger, donkey ranch guide and pedi-cab rider), every time he sits in a kayak, he is comforted to be in a place where he feels wholly competent. During recent work experiences in Southeast Alaska, he acquired a knowledge of the marvelous eco system in the Pacific Northwest with it’s exciting flora and fauna. Interpreting the surroundings for guests is always a high point in his day. It is his goal to help encourage others to feel comfortable in a kayak and out in nature.

Ty has bicycled from Seattle down the Baja Peninsula following the migration route of Gray Whales, led kayak trips in Southeast Alaska and traveled throughout Europe by bicycle and bus.

His passion is for sustainable transport, having an ecologically aware outlook on life and being a steward and a story teller about the natural history and lore of the San Juan Islands. He plays mandolin and Ukulele, and has a great interest in sea shanties.  Paddling with Ty is a rich and rewarding experience!

“We enjoyed our trip so much and this CD is our way of saying thank you! You’re one hell of a guide and a special person to us – we’re very glad to have shared the experience with you!”

Doug and Donna Fish
Sweet Home, OR


Alicia Doohan

Alicia on the beach!Alicia Doohan (23) is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California with a bachelor of science degree in Environmental Science where she received both academic and athletic scholarships. She loves living an active lifestyle and pushing herself to learn and experience new things.  Alicia ran Division I cross country and track in college and that experience gave her mental endurance and a stubbornly positive attitude .

She loves the way leading kayak tours requires level-headed responsibility as well as a thoughtfully open mind.

Alicia hails from eastern Washington and has lived in Italy working as a live-in nanny and in northern California where she led winery tours through the vineyards.  She is passionate about the earth and enjoys spending her summer exploring the Pacific Northwest.  She is, of course, Wilderness First Responder and Adult/Child CPR, AED & Airway Management certified through NOLS and WMI. She has also earned her Washington State Boating License.

Alicia brings an amazing maturity, love of the outdoors and an easy-going style to her kayak tours.  Her knowledge of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem makes any tour she leads an exciting and educational experience.

“I had a wonderful time on your trip! It was absolutely amazing! Your incredible knowledge and expertise, combined with a warm heart and a great sense of humor made this an experience I will never forget! Thank you!”

Audrey “Scotti” McGowan
Portland, OR

 I Can’t Resist!