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Halvor Tweto | 07.01.2015

Serene bays, abundant wildlife, inter-island commutes, hiking and biking trails, solitary campsites: a tour through Washington's San Juan Islands will likely redefine your sense of wonder. Easily one of the most picturesque destinations on the West Coast, this archipelago consists of 128 named islands and hundreds more nameless ones. The possibilities for exploration are endless, so long as you are willing to make the journey. By far the most popular way to reach the larger islands such as Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez, is through one of three ferry services, while charters and private services may serve the smaller islands. These services make a trip to the islands an easy commute from Seattle.

The launch at Smallpox Bay. Photo by Shane Kucera.

If you are looking for a little more solitude in your adventure, however, consider paddling to one or more islands for an overnight. Imagine pulling your kayak up onto a small beach, unloading, and camping just steps away from the water. Solitude is much more likely in the San Juans, and sea kayaking is a fantastic way to explore the less frequented spots of this amazing corner of the country. Here are a few great paddles in the islands to get you started. 

Don't forget essential navigation and communication tools for any paddle into the sound. You'll want to monitor tides, understand where shipping lanes are, keep your own bearings and position, and carry a radio to monitor shipping traffic and to use for your own communication.

Maps, radio, and a current table are helpful when navigating through the San Juan Islands. Photo by Matthew Williams.

Explore more adventures in the list below, and don't forget to post some photos when you get back!


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