Orcas - Killer Whales

Tulalip Casino Orca Display

Kayaking Orcas Island WA - Orcas Island San Juan Islands Washington

Orcas Island Washington Ferry LandingThe Ultimate Kayaking Destination

If you're thinking of kayaking around  Orcas Island and the San Juan's you're not alone.   Thousands of people come to these magical islands each year to experience for themselves the incredible beauty and to get a glimpse of the abundant wildlife.      As your kayak silently glides along you are likely to see bald eagles soaring overhead, porpoises jumping nearby, and curious seals swimming over for a look-- you might wonder who's really the one doing the sightseeing.  


With a name like Orcas Island you would think the surrounding waters were teaming with Orca whales, and while the whales are free to swim anywhere they choose and they do eventually make their way just about everywhere, but this isn't their favorite place. One of the most consistent places for whale sightings is right along the west and southwestern shores of  San Juan Island. There is a voluntary no-motorboat zone offshore from the Lime Kiln park where the Orcas are free to gather and not be bothered by the constant buzzing of motorboats. If you're dreaming of kayaking amongst a pod of Orcas you need to have realistic expectations.   First of all, it is illegal to approach the whales directly or to bother the whales in any way. The Orcas can be very curious and will sometimes approach a kayak for a swim-by or even dive under your boat, but you need to understand that this is actually a rare occurrence.           

Orcas Island Kayaking is for all agesOrcas island is uniquely suited for kayaking due to its relatively protected bays of East Sound & West Sound, as well as its proximity to the very popular  Sucia, Patos, and Matia Islands located off its north shore. These three marine parks are reachable only by boat or floatplane and are amongst the most beautiful in all the San Juan's. These islands are also the perfect destination for a a multi-day kayaking trip with numerous protected coves and conveniences such as seasonal water, pit toilets, & campsites with fire rings.      More Information About These Islands


Happy people kayaking the waters of the San Juan Islands Washington

Camping On Orcas Island Wa at Moran State ParkMoran Mansion - Rosario Resort - Orcas Island Washington PHOTOSetting Up Camp 

If you're planning on camping out during your visit to Orcas Island you'll want to make your way to Moran State Park. This very special place was donated to the State of Washington by William Moran,  a wealthy shipbuilder and former mayor of Seattle. William Moran wanted to have the showplace of the San Juans when  built a grand mansion on the shores of east sound,  now known as the Rosario Resort. The second floor of this magnificent home is kept as a museum and is open to the public, free of charge. One particularly interesting feature of this home is the giant pipe organ built into the walls of the large theater room.   

Kayak Paddling Orcas Island - Rentals Available By The Hour Or Day How To Get To Orcas Island  

If you're like most people you'll be arriving on Orcas Island via the Washington State Ferry system and if you've never been on one of their vessels before you're in for treat.   Rosario Resort Marina Orcas Island WA- Rent Kayaks or catch a sea plane to SeattleThese giant people and car carriers are part of the largest ferry system in the world and they make getting to and from the San Juan's incredibly easy, affordable, and best of all, fun.  You can take your car, bike, RV, or just walk aboard for a very low fare.     First of all you need to make your way 80 miles north of Seattle to Anacortes Washington. 

Official Washington State Ferry Website


Killer Whale Sculpture Orcas Island WashingtonDriving Directions From Seattle To Anacortes WA Ferry Terminal    MAP IT 
  • Take I-5 North  64 1/2 Miles
  • Take the WA-20 exit-  AND EXIT 230 toward BURLINGTON - ANACORTES 
  • Turn LEFT onto WA-20 / W RIO VISTA AVE / AVON CUTOFF. Continue to follow WA-20 W.   11.6 miles
  • WA-20 W becomes WA-20 SPUR W.  2.6 miles
  • Turn Right onto COMMERCIAL AVE / WA-20 SPUR.  1.2 miles
  • Turn LEFT on 12th street. (After you pass a McDonalds on your right)
  • Continue  on 12th which becomes Oaks Ave and keep going until you see signs for the Washington State Ferry Terminal and you will veer right into the toll booth lanes.  

Below is a sampling of kayak rentals on Orcas island, each with a link to their official website with their location, rates, available amenities and other information.

Orcas Island Kayak Rentals
Orcas Outdoors Sea Kayak Tours 
Located near the ferry terminal.  Specializing in tours of West Sound.  Custom Tours Available. Hourly, Daily, Multi-day tours

Good choice if you are a walk-on aboard the Washington State Ferry. EZ location.

(360) 376-4611 or (360) 2376-2971

Sea Kayak Tours at West Beach Resort 
Kayak tours located on the northwest side of Orcas Island.  Has RV & Camping sites, Beachfront Cottages!
If you're an RV or Camping maniac, this is a good choice for you.


Spring Bay Kayak Tours
Located on the southeast corner of the island approximately 20 miles from the ferry landing. Kayak tours and brunch at the Spring Bay Inn.  Your a.m. kayak tour is included if you are a guest at the Inn!   Rates are $220-$260 per room.    Owners are retired park rangers.
A luxurious way to experience Orcas island with all the knowledge of two ex-rangers on tap.

(360) 376-5531


Lieber Haven Resort & Marina Boat Rentals
Located on southeast Orcas Island.    Kayak, Motorboat & Sailboat Rentals, Whale Watching, General Store, Also,  Beachfront Cottages with no minimum nights stay, 
Great for a one night visit to Orcas Island.  Also whale watching tours.


Osprey Tours 
Located on the north shore of Orcas Island at Bartwood Lodge. Traditional styled Sea kayak tours. One hour, 1/2 day, all day, multi-day guided tours.
Good choice for crossings to Matia, Patos & Sucia Islands.  Venture into open water in the big leagues.   CLICK HERE


Shearwater Sea Kayak Tours
Kayak Tours in Eastsound Orcas Island. Guided 3-hour, full day & multi-day tours. No experience required. Kayak skills classes available.
Like other kayak tours there  is no experience necessary and you can kayak with your honey in a 2 person kayak.  




Family Kayaking the waters of San Juan Island Washington

Kayaking Orcas Island - Some things to consider:
  • Kayak Tour Dock Orcas Island WashingtonThe time of year of your visit may determine what kind of weather to expect. Even though in the San Juan's you never really know what to expect.
  • Do you own a kayak or will you be renting one? There are numerous kayak rentals scattered around the island that offer very different experiences.
  • How much time will you be spending on Orcas?  Orcas is a big island so If you're only going to be there a short time you will want to begin your kayaking near the areas that interest you most.    Don't think you can paddle around the island in just a few hours.  
  • Do you want the safest and most protected journey or something more exciting? When the wind picks up, anywhere around the island can be exciting, however there are places off the northern shore that even a 50ft yacht doesn't want to be in during a storm. The inner bays offer a level of protection from wind and waves.
  • Saltwater Sharks In Puget Sound WashingtonAre you content with paddling around with puffins and harbor seals or do you just gotta be with whales? 
  • Do you break out in a sweat after a 10 minute paddle or can you go for hours?  The tidal currents around the San Juan's can be very swift so you should always be aware of the tides when planning your crossings.  

ORCAS ISLAND MAP               Moran State Park

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