Why Paddle With Us?
When I first started in 1980, I was the only local company leading kayak expeditions in the San Juans. Today there are a lot of outfitters out there. That means a lot of choices for you. Here are some solid reasons why you should choose San Juan Kayak Expeditions for your day, multi-day or rental sea kayaking adventure:
We are a local company. We have lived and kayaked in these islands for thirty-four years! Owner Tim Thomsen has guided multi-day sea kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands for thirty-one years, has led over 450 expeditions throughout these islands and has logged more than 15,000 miles paddling in the San Juans. No other company’s owner can offer you that kind of experience.
If you paddle with us, you’ll be paddling in our backyard. In a place where the tides can change up to thirteen vertical feet in one six hour period and the winds are unpredictable, our guides have the training, knowledge, experience and judgement to insure a safe, fulfilling and educational multi-day sea kayak journey.“We wanted to drop you a line to say THANKS. We had a great time. The weather, food and the people really made this a trip to remember. I am sure you hear this all the time, but your sense of humor and your knowledge of the area are what make your trips so enjoyable. I will be in contact with you as we get closer to September to book our next trip. I have quite a few friends who will love to join us next year. Thanks again” Rick and Jeanne Thompson
Our unprecedented safety record is a reflection of our experience, judgement, quality equipment and observational skills. Our record stands alone. We carry all safety equipment(flares, GPS, chart, VHF radio, cell phone, first aid kit, etc.).“Thanks for making this an extraordinary experience for all of us…from start to finish.”
3. TOP QUALITY EQUIPMENT
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 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 three new kayaks with new paddles for our expedition fleet. Each year we buy new rain flys for our tents and, every other year, we buy new tents. Our tents, therefore, stand up to inclement weather. Our kayaks will handle adverse conditions safely.
“I am out on the water all summer, every summer, and I am proud that my equipment is the best out there!!”
We are a sea kayaking outfitter. We do not offer bike/kayak tours, inn to inn tours, wine tasting trips, zip line excursions or whale watch motor boat tours. For thirty-two years, we have offered only quality sea kayaking/camping adventures in the San Juan Islands. We concentrate on one thing: giving you the best sea kayaking experience possible!“I’m on my way home from Seattle this morning. I just wanted to say thanks for all you did for us. The trip was safe, fun, varied, challenging, delicious, relaxing, informative and beautiful. All the best to you.”
5. PERSONAL ATTENTION
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. Tim answers your e-mail and telephone inquiries personally.
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 attracts 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 three or four days with us just may be your cheeks (facial, that is).“We came, we paddled, we laughed, we conquered. Thanks,Tim for our sixth great trip. They just keep getting better. Just wish we could have won a game of horseshoes.” Craig and Ryan Britt West Seattle, WA
7. ORCA WHALE WATCHING
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 thirty-plus years of whale watching experience will put you in a front row seat!
Our West-side Whales Ho! six hour tour takes you to the heart of orca country for the day, and, with a little luck, you will paddle with whales! We launch from San Juan County Park on San Juan Island’s west side where orca pods hunt salmon. Let’s go whale watching!
“I just wanted to drop you a line to make sure you know how special our trip in the San Juans with you was! I had so many amazing moments – it has been very inspiring, and it is mostly due to your positive energy and enthusiasm for what you do – it is absolutely contagious! Thank you for leading us all in an experience that I’m sure we will all remember dearly for the rest of our lives!”Emily La Shorne Brooklyn, NY
8. KAYAK SAILING
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. 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).
“Sailing totally blew us away. HAR. HAR. The sound of the sea rushing under our kayak as we crossed effortlessly to Speiden Island at 7 knots made us realize that we were unique and awesome adventurers. Thanks Tim for an experience of a lifetime.”Mike and Krishna Smith Portland, OR
9. WE ARE MOVING FORWARD
We do not use base camps, so our expeditions are unique and constantly changing. We break camp every morning and paddle or sail to new and different areas. This maximizes your experience by increasing your exposure to varied coastlines and wildlife habitat. Your chance to paddle with orca whales increases by traveling coastlines frequented by our resident pods. You are also better able to experience the rhythm of a sea kayak expedition. One word that best describes my expeditions is “variety.” We finish our adventure miles from where it began, and we never backtrack. Every mile of your journey will be new, exciting, adventurous and unique. And on the last evening of every trip – an island to ourselves. Reserved exclusively for San Juan Kayak Expeditions, this small, island jewel will be ours for a night. Enjoy.
10. HIKE & PADDLE
Every evening of each trip we enjoy a leisurely sunset paddle or hike. 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.“I wanted to send you a brief thank you note. Kathy and I had a great time on our trip with you – it was over much too quickly -and we are having fun recounting our experiences to family, friends and co-workers. We particularly enjoyed the short hikes and the sunsets and your sharing of your knowledge about the area and the things we were seeing. We will be back for another whale encounter. Thanks.”
“Thanks for a fabulous trip. What a great way to see a beautiful part of the world.”
11. LOW-IMPACT CAMPING
I have called these islands home since 1978, and I 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 twelve people. We leave each campsite cleaner than when we arrived. Evening fires use beach driftwood only and are kept small.
We are not affiliated with motorized, whale-watch tour companies, as these “stink pots” are extremely polluting and have a very high, negative impact on orca quality of life and marine life in general. We call upon all motorized,whale watch tour companies (both US and Canadian) to immediately halt the illegal, greedy, destructive, relentless pursuit of our local orca pods.
We do not use motorized support boats. Please be wary of kayak companies that promote power boat shuttles or “Mothership” tours. This really goes against the grain of what sea kayaking is all about and greatly adds to the noise, air and water pollution of the San Juan Islands. Don’t be a part of the problem.
As a self-appointed steward 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.
12. CARRYING EXTRA BAGGAGE?
Are you bringing clothes, gear or luggage that you don’t need for the kayak trip? You may leave them in our van for the duration. Your stuff will be stored in our secure shop and will be waiting for you at our landing site. We highly recommend you leave your car in Anacortes and walk aboard the ferry to Friday Harbor. You may, if you drove across, park your car (or bicycle) safely at our shop. Be sure to let us know if you will have your vehicle, so that we can make the appropriate arrangements with you.
Because we are a small operation, we are able to keep our prices low without sacrificing service, quality 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.