Tough decision, San Juan Isles or Coas

I’m relatively new to kayaking but want to make a great late summer trip (late Aug/early Sep). Want to do an overnight in either San Juan Isles or Coastal Maine but dont know anything about either. Any thoughts, input, direction or tips much appreciated. THANK YOU

San Juan

San Juans
I’ve driven boat and kayaked SJ and loved it. Winds and tides are big factors so I’d suggest a guided trip, plus they know where the whales are. Body Boat and Blade are good people and they offer a trip around Orcas timed so it’s downhill all the way.



You’ll be renting?
Your profile says you are looking to purchase a touring boat, leading me to think you’ll be on a guided tour in a rented boat. Is that right? If so, you may want to ask about specific outfitters.

san juans
the islands are nice and relatively calm that time of year. Weather is very dry so water can be an issue. If you are new to kayaking I strongly suggest a guided trip as the currents and route planning mistakes can get you into trouble fairly quickly there. If you are interested in learning some kayak skills, check out Body Boat Blade or Kayak Academy. A good friend teaches and runs Rogue Wave Adventures but he doesn’t rent gear so you would need your own.

Body Boat Blade is fantastic, and I second the San Juan recommendation. I’ve been to both, and both were fantastic. I preferred the rugged scenery and variety of marine life found in the San Juans to the old weathered fog-covered shores of Maine. Maine has better chowder, though, and lobster too. MMmmmm. Maine.

Yes, we will be renting. And yes, if anyone knows of or has a recommendation for outfitter/guide, that would be much appreciated.

Body Boat & Blade
Thanks for all the input. Looks as if our first non SC, GA or FL trip will be to the San Juan Islands with help of BB&B. We are excited and looking forward to the trip. Also hope to paddle a couple different boats to get a better idea of what to buy.

THANKS agsin to all…

Have you called BBB?
Their classes fill fast.

Traded VM Friday. Will get in touch with them tomorrow. They seem to be the certain choice by all the recommendations.

THANKS to all.

Coastal Maine
We have an affection for this area - we are there every summer - but if you are going to fly anyway it is probably best to go to a place that is in some ways a bit more exotic so you have done it. The San Juan’s win that contest because it is likely to be different flora and fauna than the east coast that you are used to.

That said, for the next trip shoot us some email - we would love to recommend you to places in Maine.

Another vote for BBB

– Last Updated: Aug-06-12 1:17 PM EST –

I didn't know they were doing trips unless part of a lesson series. But they're great instructors and have been in the area a long time. A big thumbs-up for them!

As for which location, Maine and San Juan Islands are both beautiful. Can't lose either way. I'd tend towards Celia's view, though--go to what's more "foreign" to you now, just to get a taste of a different region. Different weather, different people, different flora and fauna. Water's cold in either case!

Coastal Maine
THANK YOU. We will do Maine next summer I’m certain. Will send you a line for recommendations prior to the trip.

THANKS again…Bert

Orcas Island and the neighborhood.
Been to Maine and Washington. The San Juan’s is the place. While wind and tide is an issue (like always), it’s the currents that make the difference there. Get excited, spend time learning about currents and it’s part of the fun. The more you learn before you go, the more you may be able to go without a guide… Learn to use the Captain Jack’s tide and current almanac. The Sea Trails charts (get which ones you need of the set of 4) and the waterproof San Juan’s chart #43 are both good. And both is best.

Learn safety skills and handling skills (if you haven’t) and you’ll have better luck renting good boats (which are usually not available).

Body Boat Blade is where you want to be. On Orcas Island they may have the NDK Explorer and Romany for rent. If you’re renting, you want to go where the boats are. If BBB doesn’t have the (all) charts and almanac, they may have them at Shearwater, on Orcas.

With the almanac plan for low tidal exchanges which means slower currents.

Tough decision, San Juan Isles or Coas
The SJ’s get super crowded in later summer, fyi. There are other epic places to paddle in WA State, many much easier to access. Consider the Strait of Juan de Fuca (also a Juan in there) on the Olympic Peninsula stretching from Port Townsend to Neah Bay - Dungeness Spit, Port Angeles Area (Salt Creek & Freshwater Bay), etc.

The WA Water Trails is a great resource as well for paddle in campsites,

Also South Puget Sound is interesting as well as Hood Canal.

If you do come to WA State, also check out my book, Kayaking Puget Sound, blog here…


Email me
I’d suggest San Juan’s over Maine but I’m biased. Work in them 5 days a week. Gorgeous and late Summer / Fall best time. Email me and I’ll give you phone number.

THANK YOU for the info. We are headed to the area mid Sept and very excited. Will check out your blog. Thanks for the info.

Sent you an email but came back undeliverable. If you can, post the contact info for the outfitter in SJ Isles. THANKS