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Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking

San Juan Islands

Northern Puget Sound, Washington

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Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking

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  • Kelp beds along the coast near Anacortes.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Shore birds rest on a rock along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Shore birds rest on a bed of kelp along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • The southern end of Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • The southern end of Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • The southern end of Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Harlequin ducks along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • A harbor seal rests on a rock along the southern end of Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Starfish can be seen on the cliffs along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Starfish can be seen on the cliffs along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • The southern end of Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Harbor seals rest on a rock along the southern end of Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Paddling through the fog along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Taking a break on Lopez Island on the way to Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Stopping at a secluded beach on Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Rose hips line the shores of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Stopping at a secluded beach on Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • A kayaker paddles through the fog along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Barnacles cover the rocks along Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • A kayaker paddles through the fog along the southern end of Lopez Island.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • A kayaker paddles through kelp beds near Cattle Pass.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Approaching Friday Harbor.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Friday Harbor.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • A gray whale flips its tail out of the water near Friday Harbor.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
  • Kayaks are allowed on the ferry from Friday Harbor to Anacortes.- Anacortes to Friday Harbor Sea Kayaking
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Solitude. Great views. Lots of wildlife.
Cons: 
Tidal rips. Strong currents.
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Region:
Northern Puget Sound, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Site characteristics: Water: 
Sound/Strait
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Portage required: 
Yes
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Water difficulty: 
Difficult / Class C
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Contributor

The 25-mile trip from Anacortes to Friday Harbor is not for the faint of heart. The route crosses the Rosario Strait, follows the southern edge of Lopez Island, and goes through Cattle Pass, an area notorious for swift currents and tidal rips. The trip should be planned around the tides, with an ebb when crossing Rosario Strait and a flood by the time you reach Cattle Pass. Since passengers boarding the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor are charged a round trip fee upon boarding, the trip back for kayakers is free; just make sure to pack your wheels!

To begin, kayakers can either put-in at Washington Park (parking is $9 per day) or directly to the west of the Anacortes Ferry Terminal (parking is $5 per day) and cross the Rosario Strait to Lopez Island. Along the way, kayakers can paddle by Bird Rocks, a resting spot for birds, sea lions, and seals, before continuing toward the rocky and diverse shores of Lopez Island. Once there, paddle south toward Iceberg Point, which is a great spot to have lunch and wait for the tides to change before heading toward the whitewater and tidal rips that occur in Cattle Pass. During max flood, you can feel the currents pulling you toward the rough waters that are notorious in the pass. Depending on your comfort in rough water, choose to either kayak down the middle of the pass or skirt the edges where waves can be less intimidating. Either way, it should make for a fun ride during max flood. After the pass, continue to ride the flood toward Friday Harbor, where you can celebrate a long, hard day on the water before wheeling your kayak onto the ferry. There is a dock right in front of the marina office to the north of the ferry landing where kayakers can load and unload their boats for a fee of $5.  

Note that the crossing from Anacortes to Lopez Island is long and the conditions can change quickly with the weather. Kayakers making this crossing should be aware that they are crossing a major shipping channel. Having a VHF radio is highly recommended.

 

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