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Prepare for Your San Juan Island Kayaking Tour

San Juan Sea Kayaking

We want to simplify your preparations for a San Juan Islands kayaking tour as much as possible. Sea Quest will ensure your pre-trip planning goes smoothly.

Pre-Trip Information

We provide a thorough pre-trip information package that covers all aspects of how to prepare and plan, including a checklist of what to bring on your trip to the San Juans, a recommended reading list, and any other question you might come up with!

Clothing Recommendations for San Juan Island Kayak Tours

You will receive a detailed checklist when you reserve your kayak tour, but here are the main concepts. Dress appropriately for anticipated weather, keeping in mind that it is always cooler and breezier around the water. There is plenty of space in the kayaks so don’t skimp on extra clothing. In sunny weather you will be most comfortable in a lightweight shirt and shorts. No matter how nice the forecast, always bring a rain jacket or windbreaker and sweater. In cool or rainy weather you should bring long pants, an extra sweater and rain pants. Do not bring cotton sweaters and pants if you can avoid it. Loose fitting pants that can be rolled up to the knees for wading are best.

Footwear Recommendations for San Juan Island Kayaking Trips

Be prepared to get your feet wet! Sandals with secure heel straps, aqua socks, old sneakers and wetsuit booties are the best choices for footwear. Wool, synthetic, or neoprene socks will help your feet stay warm even when wet. Most guides stick to sandals in warm weather and put on socks or wetsuit booties in colder conditions. We don’t wear rubber boots in the San Juan Islands – that’s for Alaska!

This is easier than you might think! We’ve taken all the guesswork out by providing you with a thorough checklist of every item you should bring on the sea kayaking tour. Specific recommendations are made for clothing and footgear, right down to the type of fabrics that should be worn.

It is important to pack anything you aren’t wearing in watertight bags. On day tours you won’t have much and it will probably all fit it in a knapsack or some other convenient carry bag. If you line the interior with a plastic trash bag it will protect the contents from water. Some people prefer to use commercially made drybags but they really don’t work any better than the inexpensive method described above.

If you have extra luggage you don’t want to carry in the kayaks you should either leave it at your accommodations or in our kayak trailer at the beach.

Lunch, Water Bottle, and Other Useful Stuff

Bring lunch(es) and a water bottle for all kayak tours in the San Juan Islands. Bringing your own lunch enables us to offer you lower trip fees and gives you the chance to bring along your favorite comfort foods. But the main benefit is avoiding a time-consuming lunch delay at what may be a crucial moment. Currents are powerful and reverse quickly in the San Juan Islands. Depending on the currents, some days require short lunch breaks so we can flow with the current instead of fighting against it. And if orcas come by we usually abandon lunch and scramble into the kayaks because every opportunity to kayak with whales is precious. Being locked into a long, complicated lunch production can often leads to missing out on a great killer whale encounter. If we do take a short lunch we will make up for it with more floating breaks in the kayaks.


We strongly urge you to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for all kayak tours. Optional items we recommend are binoculars and a camera.

Campers Need a Few Extra Things

Flashlight, toothbrush, the usual stuff. Bring your sleeping bag and pad, but if you don’t want to travel with your own we have some available to rent. Our checklist provides the size limits for stowage in the kayaks so that you can test pack your camping gear before the trip to avoid any surprises that first morning on the beach. Most people are amazed at how roomy the kayaks are and how many luxuries they can take along!

Physical Conditioning

Although our San Juan Island kayaking vacations are not extremely strenuous, they do involve moderate exercise. Stamina is much more important than brute strength! If you are going on a longer kayak tour, we recommend conditioning muscle groups of the upper body by doing light exercise (calisthenics, rowing, swimming, etc.) for two full weeks prior to your tour. Regardless of your age or skills, you will find that our kayak trips offer enough flexibility to make your experience with us safe and enjoyable.

Travel & Accommodations in Washington

Our web page Travel to the San Juan Islands provides comprehensive information for travel to Friday Harbor, our meeting location on San Juan Island, Washington. Every possible way of getting to the San Juans is described along with contact info and links to service providers. You will find the travel tips very useful. Be sure to make your reservations early!

E-mail or call us if you have any questions about how to prepare and plan for a kayak tour in Washington state. Don’t forget to refer to our Travel to the San Juan Islands web page. We’ve anticipated just about every question imaginable and provided the answers where they are available at any hour, even when our office is closed!


Getting to the San Juan Islands is very easy. Simply find your way to Seattle Washington to Anacortes where a public ferry will take you out into the magnificent San Juan Islands. Don’t forget to checkout our travel to San Juan Islands webpage which gives more specific driving instructions.