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Trip Report: San Juan Island Hopping (Part 1)

December 22, 2021

Author's note: This trip report is a three part series which will post in December, January and February. The San Juan Island hopping series is meant to keep you dreaming of warmer kayaking times to come - during the coldest months of the year!
Trip Report: San Juan Island Hopping (Part 1)

 

The San Juan Islands on the Coast of Washington State are a hop, skip, and a jump from the Eddyline Kayaks headquarters in Burlington, WA, and the perfect spot for an intermediate to advanced multi-day kayaking trip.  

There are unlimited kayaking routes, day trips and multi-day itineraries to take advantage of in the San Juan Islands. Trips can be organized amongst experienced friends and clubs or arranged and guided by an outfitter. Adventures range in length from a few days to a week or multiple weeks at a time. Always remember, since you're essentially in the ocean, protected and inland though it be, the weather can turn at the drop of a hat. Have the number of a water taxi handy and bring lots of protective outer layers, even mid summer, just in case. Violent seas, rain, high winds; these can all happen at any time.

 

The itinerary of my 2017 trip disembarked from Orcas Island (green square on the map above), and landed on Jones Island State Park (red circle on the map) for the first night. The second day we paddled to Obstruction Pass State Park (orange circle on the map) on a peninsula of Orcas Island and on the final night we landed on Cypress Island (yellow circle on the map). Everyday, without fail, each camp had a top notch sunset and sunrise. 

Many kayaking trips in the San Juans start on Orcas Island by way of a ferry from Anacortes Ferry Terminal, on the mainland. 

The ferry is a treat, in-of-itself and gives paddlers a chance to relax and watch the sunrise before the rush of packing kayaks and launching. The ferry drops patrons at the adorable town of Orcas Village where you can grab a cup of coffee or stay the night at the historic Orcas Hotel and cafe, built in 1904. The outstanding Victorian architecture of this building is a pronounced village feature seen from the approaching ferry by loads of visitors and once on the porch of the hotel, one can peacefully watch ferries come in and out of port. 

Watch for porpoises while on the ferry! I didn’t spy any but apparently it’s common to observe them from the deck. 

After you fuel up on a pastry and hot beverage, it’s time to find a launch point, do the final pack, check the map and push off into the Salish Sea! Be sure to share the salty thorofare with sailboats, other kayakers, seals, seaside waterfowl and float planes. It’s best practice to give bigger vessels the right-of-way.

 

For more on the San Juan Islands, stay tuned for parts 2 &3!



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