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Washington

Kayaking the San Juan Archipelago

Program No. 23766RSBLOG
Discover the rich array of fauna along the forested coasts of the San Juan Islands. Join expert kayakers and naturalists to relish vistas and discoveries you can only find by kayak!

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At a Glance

Come explore the San Juan Islands — one of the top kayaking destinations in the Pacific Northwest and home to unique creatures of the land and sea, from orca whales and Dalls porpoise and harbor seals, to bald eagles, and unique intertidal creatures. Where forest meets sea, discover the rich array of fauna with expert naturalists while you relish vistas and discoveries unique to kayaking during four distinct kayak excursions. Paddle your way through sheltered waters along rocky coasts, through waters rich with seabirds and marine mammals. Plus, enjoy hiking in San Juan Island’s National Park with dramatic coastal vistas.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Four 3-hour excursions on two-person sea kayaks; two 1-3 mile easy/moderate hikes. On this program, the following equipment is provided: tandem kayaks (no solo kayaks); paddles, life vests, and spray skirts. Dry bags are available upon request. Note: Our kayak providers may use triple kayaks on occasion – for odd group numbers or for safety.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Paddle the archipelago in distinct locations around San Juan, Pearl, Henry, Fidalgo, and Burrows Islands.
  • Visit Limekiln Lighthouse — a whale research and observation outpost and one of the best land-based sites to spot Orca whales in their native habitat.
  • Enjoy field trips to the Whale Museum and the University of Washington's Marine Labs to learn about the Salish Sea ecosystem.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Michael Vouri
Michael Vouri retired as the chief of interpretation and historian for San Juan Island National Park after more than 21 years. He has written books about the Pig War, the Royal Marines and San Juan Island. He has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, a U.S. Air Force public affairs officer, and as assistant director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael has been a Road Scholar instructor on San Juan Island since 1997 and a Group Leader since 2016.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Michael Vouri
Michael Vouri View biography
Michael Vouri retired as the chief of interpretation and historian for San Juan Island National Park after more than 21 years. He has written books about the Pig War, the Royal Marines and San Juan Island. He has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, a U.S. Air Force public affairs officer, and as assistant director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael has been a Road Scholar instructor on San Juan Island since 1997 and a Group Leader since 2016.
Profile Image of Cindy Hansen
Cindy Hansen View biography
Cindy Hansen, born in Gary, Indiana, received a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Washington and previously worked as a whale watch naturalist, education curator for The Whale Museum, and an expert at a gray whale camp at Laguna San Ignacio in Baja. She is currently the education and advocacy coordinator for Orca Network, and volunteers for the research organizations Orca Behavior Institute and Wild Orca. She also volunteers for Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and with the local animal shelter.
Profile Image of Shona Aitken
Shona Aitken View biography
Shona Aitken has a degree in ecology and a background in environmental education in her home country of Scotland, and from two years spent in Sweden. She is currently the education coordinator for Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island. She teaches people about local wildlife and increases awareness of the impact of human activities on wild creatures.
Profile Image of Kevin Culmback
Kevin Culmback View biography
Kevin Culmback's years of travel as well leading wildlife excursions in Western Washington, make him a perfect group leader for the San Juan Islands and Pacific Northwest. Growing up outside Seattle, Kevin has always enjoyed all things outdoors. Kevin has spent years traveling the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii and beyond, exploring the natural world and capturing those areas through his camera lens. After 20 years in the San Juan Islands, his heart is in the Northwest... until the travel bug bites again.
Profile Image of Kelley Balcomb-Bartok
Kelley Balcomb-Bartok View biography
Kelley Balcomb-Bartok spent his early summers in the San Juan Islands immersed in Orca whale culture. As a researcher for the Center for Whale Research, he became intimately familiar with the Southern Resident Orca whale population as they traveled through the inland waters of Washington and British Columbia. Kelley's experiences with whales led him to a career in the media communication field, developing a greater appreciation and understanding of the beauty and diversity of the San Juan Islands and surrounding region along the way.
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