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 34 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!                 

Tim Thomsen

oldest kayak guide worldTim(66 yrs.)has been a resident and avid kayaker in the San Juan Islands for thirty-five years. He has owned and operated San Juan Kayak Expeditions for thirty-three 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.  He is a weekly volunteer at the Friday Harbor Food Bank, San Juan Island Parks and Rec and the San Juan Island Library! 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.

“The first morning we were a group of beginners who didn’t know each other. Under your patient guidance, we were soon a well oiled team with excellent safety, paddling, and camping skills. Thanks, Tim, for a great trip. Your knowledge and experience made this a safe and educational three days for us!” Bob Nowlan/Debbie Stout Astoria, OR “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

Tara Hartman

tara hartmanTara(31 yrs.) has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from Goshen College, Indiana.  She has had a fascination with orca whales and other marine mammals since a wee child, which has led her to study marine biology at Au Sable Institute on Whidbey Island, WA and to assist research of our local orca pods here on San Juan Island.  Tara’s goal is to pursue marine biology as a career and hobby.  She brings strong communication and leadership skills along with extensive experience paddling in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and the coastal waters of  Florida where, in the winter months, guides kayak trips in the mangroves swamps of the east coast. Tara has not just participated in sports, but has excelled in them!  She still has scoring records in soccer at her college, high school and in the state of Indiana! Tara has also guided eco-tours in the Dominican Republic!  She enjoys educating our clients on the natural history of the San Juan Islands and has completed the extensive Certified Naturalist course through our local Whale Museum! She leads day trips and specializes in heading our Orca Quest Two-Day Overnighter, Three-Day Coastal Explorer and Four-Day Islands Adventurer and our all-women, multi-day trips. Her sunny smile and pleasant demeanor make her a pleasure to spend a few hours or a few days with!

“We had two amazing guides that showed us a great time. The equipment was in terrific shape. We saw lots of wildlife and learned a lot about the area. Enjoyed a short hike to a fab lunch location at the lighthouse high above a cliff. Ocean for as far as one can see. Even though this was only my 2nd time in a kayak, I felt like a learned a lot and was confident in our adventure. Thanks Tara and Ian!” “We want to thank you for a splendid trip! We especially enjoyed getting to know you, and we were very pleased with the mix of fellow patrons! Your skill, experience and your pleasant and appropriately firm guidance made for a very successful and enjoyable weekend!”

Carleton and Laurel DeTar

Salt Lake City, UT

“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

A.J. Fountain A J Fountain

A.J.(28 yrs.) lives in Seattle, Washington when he is not guiding our summer trips in the islands!  He is a graduate of Indiana University where he attained a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with minors in Business and Marketing.  He worked for two years for Evergreen Parks and Recreation District in Evergreen, Colorado. He was acting director of their Youth All-Star Sports Camp as well as running all of their adult and youth outdoor programs.  He has also been a back-country guide for two years at Vista Verde Ranch in Clark, Colorado!  It is his love of paddling and marine biology, though, that has brought him to the San Juan Islands! A.J. has recently added to his list of accomplishments by completing a Level 2 Kayaking Instructor Certification Course at Deception Pass State Park! A.J. has been a volunteer English teacher in Prapradaeng, Thailand and at Charles University in Praque, Czech Replublic for one year stints.  He has also been a volunteer for hurricane relief in Texas! A.J. brings intelligence, exuberance and maturity to his job as a sea kayak guide.  He is knowledgeable about the natural history of the Pacific Northwest and one of the most engaging young adults you will ever meet!
“I apologize that I did not get to write this sooner but I just got back to Atlanta yesterday. I had an amazing time on Sunday with A.J. and Gina. They were phenomenal. Thank you for letting them take me out. I can’t ask for more than a personal guided Whales Ho! tour. They were nice, educated, friendly, and wanted to make sure I had a great time. A.J. was patient with my paddling techniques.  I found you on trip advisor so I will leave good feedback. I want to come back sometime when it’s summer. If I can come back, I will make sure to use you guys again. You guys were great. Thank you again!”

Justin Romanko


“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

“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

Will Owen 

Will OwenWill(23 yrs.) is a Pacific Northwest native and a junior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. 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

Rob Keegan

1176187_10200503987302499_1792397152_n Rob(25 yrs.) currently lives in Seattle, WA and is a graduate of the University of Maine with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism and a minor in Sustainable Agriculture..  He was a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship.  He has led kayak trips in the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin, the Boston Harbor Islands of Massachusetts and, most recently, he spent 100 days of the 2013 season guiding kayak expeditions on Geiranger Fjord, Norway(see photo)! Rob is ACA level III Coastal Kayak Instructor certified and has his Wilderness First Responder, CPR and First Aid badges! His irresistible smile, strong work ethic, integrity and sound judgement make Rob another feather in the cap of San Juan Kayak Expeditions the original sea kayaking outfitter in the San Juan Islands!

“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

“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!