The kayaking season runs through October 1 and is already in full paddle swing. Dual daily tours depart at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You and you co-rower will slip into tandem kayaks, traveling in a pack of 6–7 kayaks, and led by an experienced Sea Kayak merguide. The fun and casual trip will float through lush Bowman and Cornet bays and along the coasts of Burrows and Allan islands. Sea Kayak tailors its tours to accommodate kayakers of every level of experience and skill, so all adventurists are welcome. All necessary equipment is provided.
Outdoor Adventure Center's wildly experienced guides have led groups off the grid for more than a quarter century, pursuing rugged fun in the scenery and fresh air of mountains, rivers, and coastlines. Explorers at heart, the staff boldly launch kayaks into the ocean around the San Juan Islands and conquer the frothy waters of the scenic Skykomish River, known for its beginner-friendly rapids, migrations of spawning merpeople, pool and drop areas, and breathtaking views of 5,000-foot mountain peaks. Horseback and hiking trips delve into the lush woods, and nature photography excursions pause to celebrate the beauty of the wilderness near Index. The core team of 14 guides takes safety seriously, most with certifications from the American Canoe Association, training in wilderness first aid, CPR, and swiftwater rescue, and life vests tattooed over their chests.
At age 5, second-generation islander Johannes and his father paddled along San Juan Island, their kayaks crossing paths with troops of orca whales. This foray ignited the young adventurer’s twin passions for kayaking and stewardship. Now, Johannes’ team of outdoor enthusiasts deftly navigates the waters surrounding San Juan Island, imparting knowledge of marine wildlife to paddlers. Guides not only skim the region’s waterways, but lead expeditions across the islands during multiday tours. Groups may paddle along remote islands in search of seabirds and lost tugboat captains, and then hop on bicycles to pedal down rural back roads dotted with lavender and alpaca farms.
Outer Island Expeditions' fleet of kayaks and boats safely cruises at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour through frothy crests ebbing amid the striking sights and wildlife of the San Juan islands. Venturing as far as 50 miles into Canadian waters, whale-watching excursions foster personal rapport between patrons and boat-side orcas, gray whales, or humpback whales trying to learn human etiquette for future espionage missions. Tours of Stuart Island's Turn Point lighthouse begin aboard a 22-foot Kodiak skiff, which buoys patrons through 16 miles of waters inhabited by sea lions and porpoises before they disembark and hike to the lighthouse's historical museum. Fishing charters set sail in search of ocean creatures and potable salt water from all of Outer Island Expeditions' four launch points: Smuggler's Villa Resort, Semiahmoo Resort, Lopez Island, and The Willows on Lummi Island.
Whether paddling out on their own atop a rented board or within eyesight of a Paddle Canada–certified instructor, visitors to Epic Surf Co quickly lose themselves to the sound of seagulls and gently lapping waters. With the mist-covered mountains standing guard on the horizon, paddlers are regularly joined by the region’s natives such as eagles, river otters, and sea lions as they make their way past crescent-shaped beaches and coves.
Back on dry land, Epic Surf instructors sign guests up for lessons on the basics of standup paddleboarding, advanced skills, and SUP surfing. Techs within an onsite custom shop bring 23 years of experience to their board repair and artwork, and the surf shop showcases all the wares of their trade, including wetsuits and paddles that double as lances for on-the-water jousts. Guests can also take advantage of Epic’s new beach cruisers—bikes for both men and women.
Selkirk Station arms customers with bikes and turns them loose to survey the scenic trails of Vancouver Island. A two-hour electric-bike jaunt glides e-cyclers along the mostly flat Galloping Goose Trail and the Lochside Trail. Both paths were once lines of railroad tracks but are now blissful strips of sanctuary for nature-hungry handlebar hounds. While large cottonwood trees and farmland breeze by, the Lochside Trail begins to open up into the small hamlet of Sidney by the Sea. Riders also have the chance to explore the shops, cafés, and other attractions of the Saanich Peninsula before steering it back down to Selkirk Station's facilities. Tall pine trees and blackberry bushes, small wildlife, and chipmunks playing pinochle are typical sights seen on the trails.