Kayak From San Juans to B.C

My friends and I are planning a kayak trip in which we cross the U.S/Canada border via Stuart Island (U.S). We were wondering if any of you fine people had any advice pertaining to customs procedures when crossing a marine border via kayak. Any info provided is appreciated. Thank you and have a nice day!


check in
I’ve done via sailboat and kayak. It’s been straight forward. I have had friends show up in the Gulf islands an have no one on duty so they just phoned in from the dock. The Canada side are sticklers for the fresh fruit and veg inspection though these days they worry more about terrorists than apple maggots. Anything with seeds and potatoes had to be thrown out if I recall.

The homeland security/CG boats may track you down on the way back. They are easy to spot coming your way, bright orange and doing 45 kts straight towards you. They mostly board pleasure boats but I have some kayak friends ‘boarded’.

Thanks for the reply. Do you by chance know the offices’ locations in B.C? Where should you check back in when re-entering the U.S?


ask ‘West Coast Paddler’ forums.

I’m advised of a good tail wind down the borderline suggesting an outgoing tide is a good ride.

A route directly off San Juan Island as from San Juan County Park or below Kettleman’s Bluff is out of that wind from the Chuckanuts and Cascades.

For Canada
It used to be in Sidney on Vancouver Island.

gulf islands
From stuart , I’ve gone to the gulf islands but Sydney is also an option.


For the San juans we reentered at Roche Harbor. The currents and wind can be substantial so plan accordingly and try to cross in the morning to avoid afternoon thermal winds. I’ve done it in glass calm and seas that regularly submerged the bow of our 40’ sailboat.

If you camp on Stuart, I highly recommend hiking to Turn Pt. lighthouse for sunset. Sucia and Patos are also both very nice and not as over run as Stuart. Patos is practically deserted by comparison.

Canada Crossing
Paddling from the Stuart lighthouse to the former Bedwell Harbor, now know as Poets Cove, is the most direct. There is a customs office on the dock. Easy peasy callling to their office from courtesy phone there. Other bonus is fresh water available via the dock taps and coin showers in pool restrooms. Campground is on north side of the Cove. This is a serious crossing. I just did it again on recent Memorial Day. Do it at slack only. Tanker and cargo ships roar up and down Haro Strait. This is why you must look both ways at the lighthouse before crossing. You should be comfortable with crossings, such as Rosario, for this.

If going from Patos to Saturna be aware that there is no such thing as slack in that crossing–just less current as it is the junction of S. of Georgia, Haro and Rosario Straits.

If not real experienced with big crossings, take the ferry to Sidney. Our recent trip returned that way but left at Washington Park/Anacortes.

Then there is option taking a ferry from Tsawwassen directly into the Gulf Islands. Roll boats on and off ferry. Leave car behind and save cash.

Have fun and be safe.