Giveaway: Kayak Tour in the San Juan Islands

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When you’re nestled into a closed-top sea kayak, you sit low in the hull. You’re not on top of the water as much as you’re in it. Secure in your seat, your legs are slightly bent and your feet are braced against the pedals. Covering your legs and torso is a waterproof spray skirt, which keeps you dry from splashes of water or drips off your paddle.

As you dip your paddle into the water and propel yourself forward, you might feel as if your boat is an extension of your body. This is the most magical part of sea kayaking. You can steer yourself around a bed of bull kelp or position yourself to take the wake off a passing boat with only gentle rocking. You are in control of your boat just as you are in control of your own body.

I vividly remember my second time in a sea kayak. I recall my first time, too – a quick urban paddle in Seattle’s Lake Union past funky houseboats. That was fun, to be sure. But it was my second kayak experience – a wilderness escape in the briny, cold waters of Southeast Alaska – that was the benchmark. I paddled for several days with a friend who was an experienced kayaker into inlets and through passages in Sitka Sound, camping along the way on uninhabited islands in the Tongass National Forest. Every moment was filled with anticipation for a glimpse of a whale tail or the flash of a grizzly bear as it ambled off a beach and into the woods. Never have I felt so immersed in the natural world around me as I did in that boat in Sitka Sound.

Have I gone and gotten you all excited about a kayak trip into the wild waters of the Pacific Northwest? Good! 

Northwest TripFinder has teamed up with one of our sponsors, Outdoor Odysseys, to give away a summer guided kayak trip in the beautiful San Juan Islands. With 175-forested islands surrounded by crystal-green waters and snow-capped mountains, the San Juan Islands are an idyllic sea-kayaking destination. Imagine yourself paddling here among orca whales, bald eagles, dall porpoise and harbor seals.

Outdoor Odysseys offers half and full day outings as well as 2, 3 and 4 day camping tours. New this summer, they are offering a two day “Whale Camp,” and beer tasting and wine tasting tours.

No experience in a sea kayak? No problem – beginners are very welcome on Outdoor Odysseys’ guided trips. In fact, I highly recommend a trip with expert guides and a reputable company like Outdoor Odysseys if you’re a beginner. They’ll help you learn all about kayak safety, and teach you key paddling techniques like how to steer your boat or how to conserve your energy. Also, their guides are out on the water every day and know so much about the natural history and ecology of the islands, and they’re eager to share it with you.

What else can you expect on a guided excursion with Outdoor Odysseys? Their guides are proficient in the art of Dutch oven cookery to make mouth-watering dishes such as smoked salmon pesto fettuccine and apple-cinnamon cobblers. Factor in good company and great views from a waterfront campsite and you’ve got the makings of a superb getaway.

So, what are we giving away?

If you win, you have your choice of ONE of the following prizes:

Single Day Kayak Tour for Four. value: $376, 6-7 hours, offered daily from Mid-May to October.

Your adventure begins in the morning at the ferry landing in Friday Harbor, where you will be picked up and driven to San Juan County Park on the west side of San Juan Island. After a thorough dry land orientation covering paddling techniquesand safety stuff, the group will get out on the water! The morning will be spent near Lime Kiln State Park, a fantastic area for spotting orca whales. After a picnic lunch (provided) at a beautiful little cove with a chance for some tidepooling, the group will paddle for a few more hours, exploring the rocky shores of San Juan Island. You’ll return back to Friday Harbor between 5 and 5:30 PM, in time to catch the evening ferry back to Anacortes or grab a bite in town if you plan to stay the night.

Two-Day Whale Camp for One. value: $369. Various dates in July and August, 2012.

Imagine spending two whole days in the heart of the best whale habitat on the west coast. Using San Juan County Park as a base camp, your group will spend these days paddling in Haro Strait, the body of water that separates San Juan Island from Vancouver Island.  This area is considered one of the world’s best orca whale watching sites – providing superb opportunities for viewing over 85+ orca whales. After an invigorating day of paddling, you’ll relax over a dinner of smoked salmon pesto fettuccine and organic salad greens washed down with bottled wines. For dessert? Hard to imagine which will knock your socks off more – freshly baked Dutch oven apple crisp or the sun setting over Vancouver Island. Want more? Ask your guide to take you out for a magical evening “bioluminesence” paddle!

Three-Day Beer Tasting and Kayak Tour for One. value: $605. Dates are July 20-22, August 10-12

This is the trip of a lifetime! Spend three days paddling the beautiful San Juan Islands viewing awesome wildlife and two nights enjoying award winning micro-brews of the Pacific Northwest. Outdoor Odysseys will be pairing Full Sail Brewery beers with delicious camp cuisine – guaranteed to please the most discriminating palate while you relax and enjoy the sublime view! Sample menu paired with Full Sail brews: Baked brie with pecans, sun dried tomato chicken sausage with wild rice and freshly baked Dutch oven gingerbread topped with whipped cream and blueberries.


To enter and possibly win one of the three kayak trips listed above from Outdoor Odysseys, tell me what wildlife you’d most like to see in the San Juan Islands. You must answer this question by leaving a comment below. By leaving a comment, you will have the opportunity to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter, Trail News, but you will need to respond to the verification email you receive if you want to subscribe.

This giveaway is now closed to new entries.

Some Legal Stuff:

To enter the Outdoor Odysseys Giveaway, you must be 18 years of age or older at the time of entry, or legal age to enter sweepstakes as required by each state. Employees of Northwest TripFinder or Outdoor Odysseys and their immediate family members and household companions are not eligible. Void where prohibited or restricted by law or regulatory agency. The prize must be used in 2012. The winner will choose one of the three prizes outlined above, contingent on space availability. If there is not space available on the winner’s chosen prize and preferred trip date, they may choose a different date or different prize from those listed above.

Giveaway Drawing and Notification:

A random drawing will be conducted by Northwest TripFinder on Monday, June 25, 2012 from all eligible entries received. The winner will be contacted via the email the winner provided when they entered. The winner will be notified by e-mail within two business days of the drawing. If the prize notification is returned as undeliverable the winner will forfeit his or her prize and an alternate winner may be selected. If the winner is found to be ineligible or declines the prize for any reason, an alternate winner may be selected. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. The giveaway entry period will end June 24, 2012, at 8:00PM PST.

Don’t forget to become a FAN of Northwest TripFinder and Outdoor Odysseys on Facebook! And good luck!!

UPDATE – June 25, 2012

We have a winner! Using an online random number generator to choose a winner from among our 68 entries, the winner is Wendy Maurer Of Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. Congratulations, Wendy! You are going kayaking with Outdoor Odysseys!



Lauren Braden’s new book, 52 Ways to Nature, Washington: Your Seasonal Guide to a Wilder Year, is now available for pre-order
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68 Responses

  1. There is nothing quite like seeing an Orca whale glide past you…. in the San Juans, they are such a treat to see. Hope to make it to the San Juans this summer to enjoy everything there–such an incredible destination.

  2. Seeing a brewer in the wild, that is a magnificent sight.

    Just kidding. I have never seen an orca from a kayak. I’m pretty sure it would freak me out, but in a really good roller coaster I might die kind of way.

  3. I would love to see as well as be in the presence of pretty much all the wildlife the San Juans have to offer. Kayaking in the calm ocean alongside a giant orca, watching bald eagles glide overhead, and herds of elk (or moose?) or a bear or 2 on shore would be pretty darn neat. Please pick me! 🙂

  4. I would love to see an Orca Whale. When I was working on a fire crew we were clearing brush on San Juan Island. During my morning run I saw a baby about 500 feet away down the cliff in a little inlet. That was so amazing! I will forever be in search for an experience as great.

  5. I’ve always wanted to kayak the San Juan Islands- even before Dr. House announced he was going to do it for his dream vacation!

  6. To see the magnificent Orca would be an amazing experience from anywhere, but I would love to see all wildlife from a kayak, I can only imagine the thrill!

  7. I’ve seen Orcas from a distance and been on a kayak once and I would love to be on a kayak and see Orcas at the same time! Oh–I just wrote my comment before I looked at the other comments and see that mine is almost the same as Caanan’s! I’m sure that many of us feel the same way!

  8. Orcas, otters, eagles, all things PNW related in the San Juans would be an experience by kayak I have envisioned for a long time-either as a family or as a single-it would be wonderful. Thanks to the businesses for the opportunity to enter.

  9. We went last summer and saw orca and bald eagles. We are going next week and I would love to see a humpback whale.

  10. What a fantastic choice of trips! I would love to see orca whales and otters (one of my favorite animals) up close in a kayak. It’s been a while since I’ve visited the San Juan Islands, so would love to return and rediscover.

  11. It is my dream to see whales! I LOVE being out in a kayak and feeling like I am part of the ocean. Yet I would be nervous around a whale unless I was with some with that experience. I can hear the water calling me …

  12. Orcas are magical, but it would also be wonderful to see bears, moose and deer along the shore, bald eagles above…What an amazing place we live in!

  13. I’ve been lucky enough to kayak with seals, bald eagles and other wildlife, but have never kayaked with an Orca.It would be an amazing experience!

  14. The wildlife I would most like to see while visiting the San Juan Islands would have to be Orca whales in the Haro Strait.

  15. As most of the others have said, the Orca whales would be my wish. Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

  16. I’d love to have the chance to learn how to Kyak for more than 2 hours at a time and to see all of the wildlife. Of course an Orca would be awesome, but seals, eagles and bears (at a distance) would be fun too.

  17. Orcas of course! I’ve been in Seattle about 4 years and have never seen one. Hope this is my chance!

  18. 1. mythical giant squid.
    2. whales of any stripe.
    3. sea stars.
    4. heron.
    when back on dry ground… a transient banana slug.

  19. I would love to see the orcas and eagles. And also seeing the starfish and little sea animals in the tidal pools would be good too.

  20. I’d love to see any kind of whale, but I also have never seen a sea otter and love all the different sea birds. Thanks for the giveaway! I’ve been enjoying following you on FB.

  21. I have lived here all my life and have never seen an Orca! I would love to see one and would love to kayak the San Juans!

  22. Orcas and what ever else we run across. What an adventure this would be. Something my husband and I would love to do. Good luck to all who apply and I will keep my fingers crossed.

  23. I would love to see an orca whale up close. It would also be very cool to see some of the water birds such a rhinoceros auklet or guillemots.

  24. I miss the NW now that I live in the Mid-west, and would love to see the eagles fishing, and hear the Orcas inhale with their mammal lungs. And the magical sea otters, and the harbor seals, and moose, and salmon running, and a bear picking blackberries.

  25. I have always wanted to spend time in the San Juans and still havnt made it there yet. My dream since 4 years old was to be a marine biologist and then life took a different turn, now at 43 have recently decided to return to college now that my kids are almost all high schoolers and finally make that dream come true. I would absolutely love the experience of seeing Orcas in the wild for the first time.

  26. I would love to see the most amazing Resident killer whales (orcas) play in the waters.
    That would be something special to see.Thank you for the opportunity and chance to win a trip! Anna Heflin

  27. Its a dream of mine and my Husbands to go kayaking anywhere esp in the sound. To see Killer Whales during this event would be just a dream come true!

  28. I’d have to say a pod of Orcas. I’ve been to the San Juan Islands many, many, many times since I was a kid, and I’ve yet to ever see an Orca. It’s got to happen one of these times, right!??

  29. I would love to see some fresh oysters and crab – get in my belly that is! Love seeing the seals out there! And bald eagles!

  30. Seeing an Orca from land is one thing, but it would be incredible to see one (or a whole pod) from the water-level view of a kayak!

    But I might need someone nearby to make sure I stay in my boat and not try to swim with them;-)

  31. I would love to see Orcas and the various sea birds that live on and around the islands. As a kid I went on a whale watching tour of the area, but my mom was afraid I’d get seasick so gave me something for the motion. I fell asleep on our way out on the water & missed all the action! I think it’s time for a redemption trip!

  32. I’d most like to see the orcas or a gray whale up close in a kayak. I’ve always marveled at the photos of people paddling near these amazing animals. You have a much greater sense of perspective when you’re in a tiny boat next to a big whale than you do aboard a large boat.

  33. I love Orca whales – we have seen them before many times – from the beach, from the water – but never from a kayak! that would be heavenly. However, lately I have been loving our bald eagle sitings too! Pick me, pick me, pick me!

  34. To see an Orca in the wild would be a dream come true. When I was 8 years old and living in Florida, my mom “adopted” me one of the Orca’s through the Whale Museum’s program, and I have been fascinated by them ever since. Now that I live in Seattle, I’m looking forward to finally taking a trip to the San Juans!

  35. Having lived in that region, I’ve seen the Orcas. What I’d love to see are folks near Lime Kiln State Park or along the shore somewhere and their expressions and comments on seeing whales, eagles or the like. Can’t get those experiences on You Tube!

  36. I’d like to see a marmot, kind of an offbeat wish I suppose, but we keep a pair Vancouver Island plush toy ( I wrote stuffed and that just read wrong) marmots from the recovery organization at around the house and moving them into odd places is a family tradition. Outside the bathroom door is popular with the kids.

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