Orca Waters: The San Juan Islands
Imagine yourself in a kayak flowing down a broad ribbon of blue water. Surrounding you are more islands than you can count, and in the distance, you see snow-capped mountain peaks. Your flotilla of companions rounds a headland crowned by an old light-house, and suddenly, they appear. A pod of twenty orcas rises to the surface, their six-foot dorsal fins cutting straight for your group. Your senses are filled by their awesome presence: explosive exhalations echo from the cliffs, the smell of fishy breath drifts on the breeze, and a seven-ton bull harmlessly breaches amid a thunderous splash. Glistening black-and-white hulks gently glide through your flotilla without so much as rocking a single kayak. Gradually the family of whales rounds the point and leaves your sight – but the memory stays with you forever.
Our paddling routes are carefully planned to traverse the most important whale habitats. And our skilled guides are able to utilize their years of experience to help bring about an encounter. These are key differences between Sea Quest and other outfitters. Another is that we use kayak campsites that can only be reached by boat. Our one to five-day tours in the protected waters of the San Juan Islands are the perfect introduction to seakayaking
. Longer itineraries, including the Canadian Gulf Islands, can be arranged if you call in advance. Detailed information and itinerary are available by visiting our website at sea-quest-k
The Art of sea kayaking
Seakayaks create an intimate bond between paddler and ocean. Gliding silently across the water's surface in your kayak, you absorb the sea's pulse through paddle and hull. Like the salmon, puffin, and orca whale, you are compelled to respond to complex rhythms of wave, current, and tide. These primeval sensations have been experienced by kayakers for centuries. Ancient people of the far north traveled in many styles of kayaks. Lone hunters stalked the frigid waters in tiny boats often made entirely from animal skins and bones. Larger kayaks transported whole families, including sled dogs and supplies. The remarkable seaworthiness of kayaks allowed their originators to hunt even the great whales on the open ocean. Modern seakayak adventure
rs have crossed the largest oceans of the world in these indomitable craft. The fiberglass kayaks you will use on a Sea Quest Expedition represent a graceful blend of these enduring designs.
Whale-watching with Sea Quest
All of our expeditions are designed for whale-watching – it's our specialty! Our paddling routes traverse the legendary whale retreats in the proper seasons: orcas in the San Juan Islands, humpbacks in Alaska, and both grays and blues along the Baja coasts. Sea Quest offers you the very best opportunity to see and learn about whales and other marine wildlife from the perspective of a seakayak. If you would like additional information about the programs you see in this website please contact us. We will send you a complete information packet that includes details on logistics, weather, geography, natural history, and an approximate day-to-day itinerary.
Your Expedition Leaders
The most important resource you have in the field is your guide. That's why we've taken a major step beyond ordinary outfitters in selecting and training our field staff. Our leaders are chosen not only for their extensive experience in outdoor instruction, but also for their comprehensive knowledge of natural history. Each expedition features guides with academic credentials and often publications in their field of study. All Sea Quest Expedition leaders are committed to provide you with the best experience possible - you will find them knowledgeable, enthusiastic, reliable, and above all, fun! More info on our guides can be found by clicking here.
Your safety is always our priority. Our guides are selected for their extensive experience in both sea kayaking and outdoor education. They possess all the skills necessary for a safe adventure: first aid, kayak safety, emergency procedures, weather prediction, and good old outdoor wisdom. Every guide carries both a marine radiotelephone and cellular phone to summon help if it is ever needed, and so your family at home can get in touch with you in an emergency.
For 15 years we have specialized in taking people sea kayaking, camping, and wildlife-watching. Our success has been founded on several key points: we paddle only in the world's best whale habitats, we provide outstanding educator/guides, and we provoke and inspire your sense of wonder. In response to constantly changing weather, tides, currents, wildlife events, and the personalities of our guests, each departure is skillfully handcrafted into a unique adventure.
The nature of sea kayaking requires us to be as flexible and adaptable as the creatures we share the sea with. Like the wildlife, our travel will be influenced by wind, tide, and currents. Flowing with the forces of nature will increase our chances of encounters with bald eagles, river otters, seals, porpoises, and whales in the Pacific Northwest. Carrying this same attitude south to Mexico could lead to seeing an osprey catch a coronet fish, swimming with dolphins, or even petting a whale!
Our guides will make sure you get the most out of your adventure. They will lead you on hikes and snorkel excursions, share their ample knowledge of sea kayaking and natural history, cook great meals, and allow you time to just relax. Rest assured, your adventure with Sea Quest will be unforgettable!
Age range, type of group
You Can Participate!
If you can hike, bike, or swim, you can paddle our seakayaks. No previous experience is necessary! Nor do you need any swimming skills. Anyone in average physical condition may join a trip. The only prerequisite is a healthy spirit of curiosity and adventure. Regardless of your age or skill level you will find that our expeditions offer enough flexibility to make your experience with us safe and rewarding. We will show you proper paddling technique and water safety before leaving the beach. Our boats comfortably hold two paddlers and an abundance of gear. They are extremely safe and stable, yet swift and easy to maneuver with foot-controlled rudders. Due to their modern design and safety features, you will never have to "Eskimo roll" or capsize!
What kind of people go on your expeditions?
People a lot like you! Although there is a great variety of travelers who participate in our trips, one common thing everyone shares is a love of the outdoors and self-propelled movement through it. Our guests like to be active and involved. Our average group is made up of an even number of singles and couples and friends. There is no need to worry about coming alone. Our group size gives everyone a great chance to get to know each other. Our maximum group size varies from 10 to 13 guests, depending on the location.
Are there age limitations?
The ages of most of our guests range from the mid-twenties through mid-fifties. Our minimum age limit is 16 for some trips. Custom trips can accommodate younger paddlers in most destinations. In the San Juan Islands we have minimum age limits of 5 and 12 depending on the trip length. There is no upper age limit, although for those over 65 we prefer to discuss their physical abilities before making a reservation.
Sleeping and meals
Fine Dining While Camping
Our outdoor adventures are certain to create healthy appetites. For that reason we provide hot and hearty meals for both breakfast and dinner. Fresh wholesome ingredients are the foundation of our nutritious, tasty meals. The menus include baked goods, vegetables, salads, fruits, and edibles we've gathered from land and sea. Your guides are energetic camp chefs and have been carefully trained in the skillful preparation of delicious, healthy meals. That's why our guests consistently remark that they are pleasantly surprised by the very high quality of our kayak camping meals.
Where will we camp?
We choose our campsites for their beauty, access to wildlife, and ease of landing kayaks. In some trip areas these may be marine state parks, national parks, water trail sites, privately-owned, or a variety of the above.
Are there showers?
No, but you can swim regularly as well as take sponge baths to stay clean. Our campsites are all primitive locations that lack shower facilities.
Will I be uncomfortable, cold or wet?
No. Our philosophy is to stay comfortable, warm and dry while kayaking and camping. The weather in our various trip locations is very pleasant, usually dry, and daytime temperatures average in the 60's to 80's.
Rates & Availability
Fees range from $39 for a half-day trip to $100/day for longer trips in the San Juan Islands. Fees are slightly higher elsewhere. For details on fees and dates please visit our website at sea-quest-k
Visit our website or email us at realadvent
Sea Quest Expeditions
Our goal is simply stated: we want to provide you with the best sea kayak trip of your life! Join us for an outdoor adventure that offers everything from energized fun to calm serenity. For your pleasure and enlightenment, our staff skillfully hand-crafts every Sea Quest Expedition into a custom learning experience - one that will surely enhance your appreciation of our natural environment. All expeditions are led by actual biologists and environmental scientists who double as highly-trained educators and seakayak guides. This level of excellence distinguishes us from all other outfitters while transforming your experience into an adventure in learning. The spirit of our expeditions is captured in the word "zoetic", meaning "endowed with life".
This is our small non-profit organization that has operated Sea Quest Expeditions for ten years. Our activities include outdoor environmental education, the promotion of scientific investigation, and financial support for leading conservation groups. Join a Sea Quest Expedition and you will be sharing in our commitment to preserve natural areas and wildlife.
We Love our Work
Our friendly crew of guides loves kayaking, coastlines and the animals who live there. This pursuit has led us to explore the wildest places from Alaska to Baja in our sea kayaks. Our greatest satisfaction comes from introducing other people to our favorite places. We have committed our lives to providing educational and recreational experiences to anyone who will join us in the adventure. Thanks to a lot of practice and hard work, we are now experts at introducing inexperienced travelers to the joys of sea kayaking.
In case you are wondering why we have chosen sea kayaks as our method of exploration here is the answer: its a delightful way to visit beautiful areas and enjoy sensitive wildlife without causing any damage or lasting disturbance. We don't even leave footprints! Kayaking is like backpacking, except everything is carried in your boat - not on your back! It's more luxurious, too, since our kayaks can carry much more than you'd ever get on your back.
Our state-of-the-art, expedition-equipped, two-person kayaks are swift and stable. Please don't confuse these craft with tippy white-water kayaks. If you follow our simple instructions you are sure to remain upright the entire trip. Your guides will quickly teach you the basics of sea kayaking, and the techniques will take little time for you to master.
We encourage you to visit our website at sea-quest-k
Groups of 10 or more persons are eligible for a 10% discount.