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Shaw Island Circumnavigation

San Juan Islands

Northern Puget Sound, Washington

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Shaw Island Circumnavigation

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  • A ferry rounds the corner near Blind Island State Park, a popular stop along the route.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Boat traffic along the narrow waterways on the northern side of Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Turn Island, near Friday Harbor, is a great spot to stay after a late start from Friday Harbor.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • A ferry heads past Turn Island on the way to Friday Harbor.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Houses near Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • The Wasp Islands are a popular side trip when circumnavigating Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • The Wasp Islands are a popular side trip when circumnavigating Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Extending the trip to Jones Island is a popular option.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • The Wasp Islands are a popular side trip when circumnavigating Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • The Wasp Islands are a popular side trip when circumnavigating Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • The Wasp Islands are a popular side trip when circumnavigating Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Blind Island is a popular place to stay on the northern side of Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Blind Island is a popular place to stay on the northern side of Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Boat traffic along the narrow waterways on the northern side of Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Boat traffic along the narrow waterways on the northern side of Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
  • Blind Island is a popular place to stay on the northern side of Shaw Island.- Shaw Island Circumnavigation
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Solitude. Wildlife. Great views. Good places to camp.
Cons: 
Boat traffic. Open water crossing.
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Region:
Northern Puget Sound, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Site characteristics: Water: 
Sound/Strait
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Portage required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
18.20 mi (29.29 km)
Water difficulty: 
Moderate / Class B
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Contributor

The circumnavigation of Shaw Island can be approached from several points, including Friday Harbor on San Juan Island or Odlin County Park on Lopez Island. The island can be circumnavigated in either a clockwise or counter clockwise manner, but any paddling should be timed with the currents, especially when crossing the San Juan Channel from Friday Harbor to the southern coast of Shaw Island, where currents can be quite strong. From there, the route offers numerous side trips and scenic camping opportunities with a variety of wildlife along the way. Kayakers have several options when leaving from Friday Harbor. Either follow the coastline of San Juan Island before crossing over to Neck Point, or cross directly over to Point George on Shaw Island and enjoy the varied coastline of this relatively uninhabited island.  

You can extend the trip with a tour of the Wasp Islands. This small group of islands offers beautiful scenery as well as a chance to take a quick break on Yellow Island, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy and open to the public. From the overhanging madrone trees that dot the shorelines of the Wasp Islands, Jones Island is only a short paddle and offers a spectacular place to stay for the night.

From Jones Island, kayakers can choose to paddle around Crane Island either through Wasp Passage or Pole Pass before reconnecting with the shoreline of Shaw Island. Keep an eye out for starfish along the rocky shores, bald eagles, and whales, as well as the many curious seals that inhabit the area. Blind Island, Shaw County Park, and Odlin County Park offer kayakers other options for camping along the way before finishing their journey around Shaw.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(9 within a 30 mile radius)

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(99 within a 30 mile radius)

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