The Piquanices of Sea Kayaking The San Juans

A two day kayak trip in the San Juans proves more spicy than anticipated.


Mountain biking, skiing’s close cousin, consumes the summer months for most skiers. Bikiing, climbing, whitewater paddling, even base-jumping seem to always maintain the top spots on snow fanatics’ leisure activities for the warm months. Sea kayaking sounds sluggish in comparison.

With Anacortes Kayak Tours guide, Tiffan Wannamaker, and the Outdoor Research team, sea kayaking’s level of action just got redefined on a two day paddle trip through the San Juans.


The ocean is anything but sluggish. With currents, choppy water, and dodging freighter boats and ferries, kayaking the San Juans is like skiing your favorite line on a considerable avy danger day; the danger is avoidable, but only if you make the right decisions. Thanks to Tiffan, we didn’t have to make those choices, but we did get to experience a few channel crossings in noticeable current. Crossing a channel with a three knot current and a huge freighter moving in your direction is like watching a wet slide creep slowly toward you; once you see it moving, naturally your speed increases, but in the end you discover you were far away from danger.


Paddling northwest from Fidalgo Island we traveled to Cypress Island, a San Juan gem designated as mostly DNR land. Here we camped, just feet from the water, falling asleep to the lapping of small waves on the shore.


A fully catered trip, Tiffin spoiled us with prosciutto sandwiches, maple creme cookies, tomatoe bisque, eggs and sausage, and even strawberry shortcake; hardly roughing it.


Although sea kayaking deemed more adventurous than originally believed, I still found myself glancing towards Mt. Baker and the Canadian Border Peaks, hoping for a reminder of what is to come in just five or six months.


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