Sea kayaking and Orca Watching
San Juan Islands Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
September 7th, 2009 – by: asmulders
Base camp for a trip to the San Juan Islands is the city of Seattle, famous for its Pike Place market and of course the birthplace of Starbucks coffee. After having checked out the city of Seattle and its many book stores and coffee houses, I took off at the crack of dawn on Labor Day to drive north to the town of Anacortes to board the public ferry which transports you to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island.
The ferry ride is number 4 on the Worldâ€™s Top 10 Best Ferry Boat Rides, so I was excited. Unfortunately the weather was cloudy, but our luck turned once we arrived at the historic seaport of Friday Harbor where we picked up lunch (which included a nice bottle of Washington State red wine) and set out to drive to the north part of the island from which we would start a 3-hour guided sea kayaking trip. By the time it was time to put on the spray skirt, get acquainted with how to hold the paddle and how to communicate in order to paddle in unison, the sun had come out and a blue sky was greeting us. Needless to say I was way overdressed since I had expected typical Seattle weather, but we didnâ€™t have one drop of rain.
We paddled along several islands, some of them privately owned and which displayed an abundance of signs warning people of this fact.
My shoulders got a break when we lifted our kayaks out of the water and planted ourselves at a picnic spot on Posey Island, which we had entirely to ourselves. Sampling the bottle of red wine was a nice way to relax the muscles and post-lunch kayaking went so smoothly that I felt I could paddle all the way to Canada.
When we got back to dry land, we left scenic Roche Harbor behind us and drove west to Lime Kiln State Park to visit the lookout point to see some resident orcas.
I learned that the resident orcas that live in the Strait of Juan de Fuca only eat Chinook salmon and the males can eat up to 250 pounds of salmon a day. Transient orcas that just move through the Strait eat mostly seals or other marine mammals and are not seen as frequently as the resident orcas.
I was sad to leave the orca viewpoint as I thought it would be a great spot to watch the sunset, but we had to make our way back to the ferry dock to return to Seattle.
The San Juan Islands are located in the Salish Sea between three cities: Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria and two countries: US and Canada. There are actually more than 450 islands in the archipelago, but only 15 of them can be reached by public ferry. You can also reach San Juan Island by seaplane from Seattle, which only takes about 30 minutes and must be really cool.
I used eco tour company Evergreen Escapes for my tour. They are based in Seattle. I had a great experience with them.
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