San Juan Islands Exploration

Destination: San Juan Islands, WA

| Activities: Kayaking, Hiking

The San Juan Islands, located off the coast of Washington State, are known as one of the most spectacular island archipelagos in the country. Craggy coasts, deep blue-green waters with abundant sea-life, and pastoral landscapes abound. Known as one of the best sea kayaking places in America, it also offers interesting small towns, a rich human history, diverse marine and bird wildlife, scenic hiking, and an opportunity to look for wildlife on a boat tour. Our trip starts and ends in Seattle and if you have never visited Washington in July, you'll find out why everyone falls in love with it. Maximum group size: 12


  • Sea kayaking in the beautiful archipelago of the San Juan Islands
  • Hiking up Young's Hill and visiting a National Historic Park
  • Seeing a variety of wildlife such as seals, bald eagles and much more
  • Hiking Mount Constitution with 360-degree views of the islands at the summit
  • Cruise through the islands on a wildlife tour looking for whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, eagles, and more
  • Experiencing island life on two different islands: San Juan and Orcas Island


  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights double occupancy lodging
  • All meals as listed on the itinerary
  • Two days and one half-day of sea kayaking
  • A whale and wildlife tour
  • All transportation once you arrive in Seattle and transportation back to the airport (SeaTac) at the end of the trip

    What's not included:
    Travel insurance, guide gratuities and meals as excluded on the itinerary

Trip Documents

Trip Info

The trip is rated 2 and is appropriate for any active woman who regularly walks briskly for exercise and wants a vacation that mixes being active in the outdoors with learning about the human and natural history of the area. No prior kayaking experience is needed, though beginners may find the paddling challenging depending on the conditions. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be walking regularly, including hills or stairs, at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes.Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

Since the San Juan Islands are made up of diverse ecosystems, we'll explore it in diverse ways: kayaking, boating, and hiking. Participants must feel comfortable in open water for this trip and have the agility to climb in and out of kayaks. If motion sickness is an issue for you, this may not be the best trip for you as there is a lot of time spent on moving water vessels. No experience is needed for any of these activities - we'll teach you all that you need to know, but prior practice is always a bonus!

The first night is in a modern and convenient hotel close to the airport. The next 3 nights are at the Earthbox Inn in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. The double-occupancy rooms are classic retro chic with small kitchenettes. The Inn also has an indoor swimming pool. The next three nights we stay on Orcas Island at the Landmark Condos, each with 2 bedrooms and one bath, living room and kitchen. Rooms are an assortment of shared and individual rooms (which will be assigned randomly) and all have shared bathrooms.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Fly into Seattle during the day today and take the convenient and free hotel airport shuttle to our hotel for the first night. Aim to be at the hotel by early evening in order to meet the group for an orientation meeting at 7PM. Wondering what to do if you have some free time in Seattle? Grab a book, take a look! Seattle is the most literate city in the U.S., and it shows in its abundant bookstores and coffee shops. If you have time, you could also check out the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Museum of Pop Culture and the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Overnight Holiday Inn Express or similar.
Meet at 7AM in the lobby of the hotel. The group will embark on a 2.5 hours drive north to the Anacortes Ferry. The ferry ride is approximately an hour long to Friday Harbor. Lunch is on your own today and your guides can point you in the right direction for purchasing something tasty prior to ferry departure. Once on San Juan, our adventure kicks off with a kayak tour of Griffin Bay. After an introduction to kayak safety and touring techniques, we will set off on a 2 to 3-hour kayak adventure. This is an ideal first kayak in a uniquely peaceful environment with superb views of glacier-covered Mt. Baker and the Olympic Mountain Range. We will explore picturesque Dinner Island and its resident colony of chubby harbor seals, then turn south toward quiet coves. We may see bald eagles, Dall's or Harbor porpoise, river otters, mink and migratory seabirds such as scoters, harlequin ducks, loons and mergansers along with our local herons, cormorants, gulls and kingfishers! After getting checked into our lodgings and cleaning up, we will head back to Friday Harbor for a relaxing dinner and sunset over the water. Overnight: Friday Harbor, Earthbox Inn. (B, D)
Today, we'll visit a world class lavender farm just down the road from our lodging and experience the fields at the "peak of purpleness." Next, we'll spend the afternoon on the water exploring the San Juan Archipelago in search of whales and wildlife. A Marine Naturalist on-board will answer all questions and teach you about the local wildlife and ecology of the San Juans. Overnight: Friday Harbor, Earthbox Inn (B, L, D)
Today we'll enjoy a scenic drive to San Juan Island's west side and launch our kayaks into prime orca whale country! We'll have a picnic lunch along the way. For a different perspective, we'll take a short walk on a spectacular coastal trail and, from an elevated viewpoint, enjoy nothing but islands and ocean as far as the eye can see. Diverse wildlife, stunning vistas, and spectacular coastline are the highlights today. Wildlife can be seen in the sky, in the sea or on the shore, so bring your cameras and binoculars. Overnight: Friday Harbor, Earthbox Inn. (B, L, D)
This morning we see the island from another perspective with a steep but rewarding short hike up Young Hill (the hike is optional and those that wish can relax at the inn this morning instead) and a stroll around the National Historical Park, English Camp. When the maritime boundary could not be settled swiftly in 1859, Great Britain and the United States each set up a military camp on opposite sides of the island to wait out the dispute. Here we can explore where the British troops occupied San Juan Island for 12 years.

Then we will take some time to explore Friday Harbor with lunch on your own, a great chance to experience the bustling seaport teeming with galleries and museums. After lunch, we will take a short ferry to Orcas Island which is slightly larger, but less populated, than San Juan Island. Orcas Island is shaped like a pair of saddlebags, separated by the fjord-like Eastsound. Overnight: Eastsound Village, Landmark Condominiums. (B, D)
Today we get back in our kayaks to paddle through emerald waters to Sucia Island. Among the northernmost of the San Juan Islands, this horseshoe-shaped island is accessible only by watercraft. Boaters venturing into its coves and harbors quickly discover why Sucia Island is considered the crown jewel in the state marine park system. The main island, surrounded by picturesque rocks and smaller islands, gave pause to the Spanish explorers who navigated its waters in 1791. They called it "sucia" or "dirty," describing navigational obstacles such as the rocks around the island. The island and its waters are, in fact, pristine, and the satellite rocks make for interesting kayaking and beautiful vistas. Overnight: Eastsound Village. (B, L, D)
After a delicious breakfast, we'll drive to Moran State Park for a hike to the high point on the San Juan Islands - Mount Constitution. At the summit we can climb the stone observation tower, patterned after a medieval watch tower, for panoramic views of the surrounding islands, the Cascade Mountains and on a clear day Mount Baker, Mount Rainer and Vancouver, B.C. The majority of the San Juan Islands are quite hilly, with some flat areas and valleys in between, often quite fertile. The coastlines are a mix of sandy and rocky beaches, shallow and deep harbors, placid and reef-studded bays. Gnarled, ochre-colored madrone trees grace much of the shorelines, while evergreen fir and pine forests cover large inland areas. Hiking 6.7-7.7 miles, 1500-foot elevation gain. Overnight: Eastsound Village, Orcas Island. (B, L, D)
Today we must say goodbye to these beautiful islands. We will catch a morning ferry back to the mainland. From there we will drive together back to Sea-Tac Airport. You can plan your flight out for any time after 4:30 p.m. If you want to extend your adventure you can take the light rail into Seattle from the airport. (B)


(36 reviews)
4.5 Food
4.8 Lodging
4.7 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Sort By:
Most Recent

Elaine N.
8 months ago

So many things. It was my 1st trip to San Juan islands & my 1st experience ocean kayaking.

Julie T.
8 months ago

Great adventure with wonderful guides and fun ladies.

Carole M.
8 months ago

Beautiful place to experience sea kayaking & whale watching-- cool temps/ amazing view from condos/ friendly group of ladies/ and excellent guides! I want more Island Time!

Susan C.
8 months ago

Amazing traveling companions who started as strangers and ended as friends. Friendly, approachable guides who went above and beyond to ensure we had a great trip.

Connie W.
8 months ago

The itinerary, leaders, food, activities, and fun fellow travelers made this trip outstanding.

Mary M.
8 months ago

I enjoyed the multi sport (kayaking, hiking) adventure. I loved the destination. It was a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Hopping to three different islands expanded the experience. Appreciate the lavender farm.

Nicole W.
8 months ago

Guides, activities, landscape and the camaraderie of the women participating all contributed to a special week.

Darlene S.
8 months ago

Amazing location, phenomenal guides and an incredible group of like-minded women who laughed and talked (a lot) and adventured merrily along with an open heart and spirit

Kathy W.
8 months ago

Guides, Traveler’s, everything else. We all bonded and there was a joy being with each other that the guides fostered.

Beth M.
8 months ago

Fantastic location, incredible weather, lots of activities and options, and an excellent group of women made this another quality trip from AGC. Loved the kayaking.

Jill W.
1 year ago

I've wanted to explore this area for a while, and I was so happy to be able to spend time there.

Libby D.
1 year ago

Kayaking and seeing the wildlife and beautiful scenery. Walking out to Indian Island at low tide and seeing all the wildlife.

Marlene L.
1 year ago

Visiting the San Juan islands and Orcas Island. I would have rated it excellent if we would have gotten more fish on the menu. The Italian restaurant was not that good and would have enjoyed outside dining at a local fish shop… just even fish tacos would have been better than the Italian.

Charlotte L.
1 year ago

We had great weather and the sea was calm which made for fun kayaking.

Rebecca B.
1 year ago

The guided kayaking day around Sucia Island.

Wanda P.
1 year ago

The San Juan Island adventure offered a mix of activities on land and water. Our guides were stellar. They were flexible providing options for meals, and activities. Absolutely loved the life journey stories shared among us. The island scapes and wild life were beyond amazing. Grateful for this experience!

Linda B.
1 year ago

Our AGC guides exceeded my expectations. Knowledgeable, helpful and fun to travel with. Handled all the necessary details.

Nuria H.
2 years ago

Pat E.
2 years ago

Jane F.
2 years ago

The scenery and attentive guides

Cassie F.
2 years ago

Wonderful, relaxing vacation! Heather and Carrie took care of everything.

Mary V.
2 years ago

This was my first AGC trip and I wasn't sure what to expect. It was great; participants and guides were beyond my expectations. I was amazed at all the work the guides went through to prepare a wonderful breakfast each day and dinners. Also, they managed to go with the flow when things didn't work out (ferry cancelled!). They worked very well together and put up with all of us without making it look like work for them.

Kathleen F.
2 years ago

Being able to be with my daughter, Cassie, for the week --in all its glory. Visiting the San Juan Islands and immersing in the water and views of the area. First time in area. Perfect variety of activity...Kayaking, hiking, sailing. The weather in the area, at this time of year, was so amazing...fresh air, blue skies, perfect temps, no rain. Carrie and Heather were excellent guides! It was interesting -- as it was the first time they had met in person--and yet they worked so well together to run the trip. They both were very professional, kind and courteous leaders, had great attention to detail, and were adapt at changing the flow, as needed. Keeping 12 different women happy for a week--I imagine-- can, at times, be challenging--with so many different personalities--but, I found both of them had excellent manner in moving around and thru the guests--while keeping the ball rolling, so to speak. They were both very positive in their manner and upbeat. They read the group and individuals very well--which is such an important skill, which I find one has to develop and learn. Overall, 2 lovely woman who I admire. I would say they are both great assets to AGC!

Kathryn S.
2 years ago

Actually the whale watch I did on my own was amazing. Guides were terrific and our group of women really bonded and had a great time together

Beth W.
2 years ago

Freedom to make choices o how to spend each day

Mary H.
4 years ago

Elizabeth D.
4 years ago

Donna G.
4 years ago

Loved the variety of activities, loved the guides, loved having down time

Lani D.
4 years ago

Deneice B.
4 years ago

Zip lining, Kayaking, Wildlife watching, (I added a whale watch on my own, and it was the highlight of my trip) I traveled from Ohio and felt it was a shame to be right there and not see whales.

Vicki T.
4 years ago

Enjoyed all of it with the following exceptions: Sailing - since we had no wind, 6 hours of this was too long. If no wind after a couple of hours, abort and go to another activity. Kayaking on Orcas - the outfitter used there was not as good as the one on San Juan Island - they were outstanding. AGC Guides were excellent.

Mary H.
4 years ago

Great place, people, guides.

Katherine H.
4 years ago

Beautiful kayaking opportunities. Nice accommodations. Fabulous guides!

Sue M.
4 years ago

enjoyed the variety of activities.

Celia N.
4 years ago


Lani D.
4 years ago

Ziplining was so fun - company was very professional and local guides were delightful!

  1. Do I need travel insurance for this trip?

    Due to the remote nature of the San Juan Islands and the cost of a helicopter evacuation in the case of a medical emergency, purchasing travel insurance is HIGHLY recommended on this trip.
  2. Where do we eat?

    Some meals will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu and other times the guides will cook meals at your lodging. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch for picnics or our lunches will be provided by our kayaking outfitters.
  3. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  4. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room on the first night at the group hotel close to the airport. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.