Searching for islands, otters, and mountain views!
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One thing about living in the PNW: there is so much to do! As we were nearing our moving date we realized there were a couple things left we hadn’t tried yet so off we went to go kayaking. Zach had been wanting to go for years so we went for his birthday this year!
All in the Details
Quick Note: I found a Groupon for our excursion and would recommend the experience as it was fun. However, the ad was for a whale-watching tour with “guaranteed sightings” and that was not at all what we got when we went. Our guide even told us that she didn’t think any whales ever went on the route we were on. Not sure if she was misinformed or if the advertising was wrong, however that was a big disappointment as we were initially going to see some whales.
All that being said, the excursion was incredible and we did have an amazing time seeing the wildlife, the mountains, and could not have asked for a better summer activity.
Location: Orcas Island (about a 3 hour trek from Seattle including a ferry that requires reservations. This is NOT listed on the ferry website, but we were in the stand-by line and boarded just fine.)
Experience: No kayaking experience is required and life vests are provided. Just like with any water activity, please be sure to prepare ahead of time by knowing how to tread water and gaining confidence around water in general.
Cost: With the Groupon it was $35 per person, $60 per person without Groupon
To Bring: Hat, sunscreen, snacks/packed lunch, Ziplock/waterproof bag (I like these Stasher Bags!), clothes that can get wet, and water friendly shoes. Two women on our excursion also brought these cool phone holders. They go around your neck and keep your phone dry so you can easily take pictures on the water. I would definitely get one if I go kayaking again!
Heading to the Excursion
We drove an hour and a half from Edmonds (just North of Seattle) to Anacortes and took the Orcas Island Ferry to Eastsound.
We then took the hour and twenty minute ferry ride up to Orcas, the south side of Orcas Island.
The ferry was still operating under some COVID restrictions, so their kitchen and cafe weren’t open. However, no masks or vaccine cards were required even indoors.
Once we landed on Orcas Island we made the 10 minute drive North to our excursion area close to Eastsound. We were signed in, packed up, and ready to head out within about 30-45 minutes.
Our group was just us and 2 women along with our guide. This made it easy to ask questions, stop to see things, and made it a more relaxing experience than I was expecting. I have basically no kayaking experience and was quite nervous, but the small group made me feel much better.
We paddled Westward around the north side of the island along a rocky cliff. Our group saw Harbor Seals with their babies sunbathing as well as a Peregrine falcon.
After about an hour of paddling we made our way to a small rocky beach at Chapel Rock on Point Doughty. We pulled right up and walked up a small hill to see the surrounding islands.
The water was incredibly glassy. I couldn’t get over how smooth it was! The sun was out, the breeze was cool, and Mt. Baker made an appearance for the whole trek.
After our break on the point, we packed back up and pushed off to see a herd of seals on their home rock. There were about 12 seals! They were relaxing in the sun, but started barking at each other once we paddled off. Such a cool experience to see so many upclose and all at once.
After circling back around Point Doughtry, we started our trip back to our starting point. We swung back by the original seals and enjoyed the relaxing paddle back.
After our excursion we had dinner and ice cream in Eastsound, then drove back to Orcas for our inbound ferry.
The ferry ride back had the most amazing sunset and felt like the perfect ending to our day, and our time in the PNW. We could not have asked for a better time out here, and this trip really felt like it encompassed so many of those feelings.
All in all, I would definitely recommend trying out kayaking if you are in the area. If we had tried ocean kayaking a few years sooner we probably would have in vested in a 2 seater to make those beach hikes much easier. 😉