Sea Quest Kayak Tours
Sea Quest Kayak Tours
4.5
Eco ToursHiking & Camping ToursDolphin & Whale WatchingNature & Wildlife ToursKayaking & Canoeing
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
About
Join our biologist guides in the premiere orca whale waters! Our specialty is finding killer whales while kayaking. Our routes are carefully designed to maximize your chances for an amazing encounter! You may also see sea lions, porpoises, otters, eagles and much more. Our 40 years of working as biologists and educators in the San Juan Islands makes us the top experts! Stable, safe and fun for all ages! Sea Quest accommodates everyone from beginners to experts and custom tours to fit your needs. Families will appreciate our family tours – age 5 & up – with 3-person kayaks to seat kids between two adults. Sea Quest provides professional leadership, small group size, and a perfect safety record after 30+ years. Day-trips explore spectacular locations like Lime Kiln Whale Watch Park. Our 2, 3 & 5-day camping trips navigate to the remote outer islands. We were chosen for National Geographic's “10 Best Trips in the World for 2011” and USA Today's “World's Top 10 Adventure Bargains.”
Friday Harbor, Washington
Meets animal welfare guidelines

Awards
Travelers' Choice
2023

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Travelers talk about
(113 reviews)

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles751 reviews
Excellent
620
Very good
81
Average
21
Poor
15
Terrible
14

Kate F
11 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
My fiance and I went on the sunset kayaking tour. Our guide, Katie, was so knowledgeable and respectful of people's abilities and experience. Everyone on our tour wanted to see Orcas so we went to South Beach, a location where Orcas had seen seen for the past 14 days straight. I cannot tell you how amazing this experience was. We not only got to see Orcas, but we were able to see several at a very close vantage point along with a multitude of other sea life (including a harbor seal pup that was absolutely adorable). Through it all, Katie was very respectful of the wildlife and very professional about proper behavior when the whales came in close while also sharing in our excitement. I highly recommend this company and their kayaking tours!!
Written July 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
It sounds like you had an incredible experience on your sunset kayaking tour with Katie as your guide! Witnessing Orcas up close along with other sea life must have been truly unforgettable. Katie's knowledge and professionalism, along with her respect for wildlife, added to the quality of your tour. Thank you for sharing your positive recommendation for the company and their kayaking tours!
Written February 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Tina P
33 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
I have nothing but positive things to say about this company. Martine was accommodating, flexible, and extremely gracious as we faced some COVID obstacles just a week before the trip; she went above and beyond what I anticipated to provide us scheduling options. The trip itself was absolutely incredible. Our guide, Jonathan, was not only personal and entertaining, he had a wealth of knowledge and was willing to share it and answer any questions that came at him. Not only did we enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife, we learned so much about marine life and how it's all connected to our life far away from the sea! It was hard, tougher than I was prepared for but even the hard days were amazing. My kayak with my 15 year old was often in the rear, but Jonathan found a pace that allowed those much quicker than us to still be able to go hard, while not leaving us in the dust. He was encouraging and motivating the entire way and that helped me, as mom, with my patience. At the end of each day, the meal Jonathan cooked up was beyond delicious! Nothing close to what I prepare on camping trips and was another unexpected surprise! In the end, we did not see any whales, which was a huge bummer, but the overall experience was amazing and we plan on going back next summer!
Written July 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
It seems like you had an amazing experience with the company. Martine's flexibility and graciousness, especially during COVID-19 times, made a significant difference in your trip planning. Jonathan's knowledge, entertainment, and patience added immense value to your journey. Despite the challenges and not seeing any whales, the overall experience was unforgettable, and you're considering returning next summer. It sounds like a trip filled with enriching experiences and memorable moments!
Written February 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Amy C
Everett, WA22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
We did the full day kayak tour with Jonathan, who was an outstanding guide. It is obvious that he takes pride in his home, the San Juan Islands, and that he truly loves the water and all of its creatures. We had a fantastic day out on the water. He made sure everyone stayed safe, and he taught us about local sea life and conservation. We will never buy farmed salmon again! We saw tons of harbor seals, crabs, and sea birds. While we didn't see orcas as we had hoped to, we knew that the probability of doing so while kayaking is slim. We stopped for a lunch break on Tern Island, a beautiful and peaceful location.

The only complaint I have is that we were packed (13 people) into a van with the back windows taped shut. This was not a wise decision on the company's part during a pandemic. We were required to wear masks, but really we should have avoided such a situation all together. We would have been happy to meet at the launch point in our own vehicle to avoid the risk, but we were not given that option.
Written August 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Hi there! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. I'm thrilled to hear you had a fantastic day kayaking with Jonathan, who clearly has a passion for the San Juan Islands and its marine life. It's great that he could impart knowledge about sea life and conservation, making the experience both enjoyable and educational. I appreciate your feedback regarding the van situation. Your safety and comfort are our top priorities, and I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused. We'll consider this for future trips and see how we can make improvements. Despite the van issue, I'm glad you enjoyed the beautiful and peaceful lunch break on Tern Island. If you have any more suggestions or if there's anything else we can do for you, feel free to let us know. We hope to have you back for another adventure soon! Best, Sea Quest Team
Written February 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Cher
Los Angeles, CA2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
We would not recommend Sea Quest to any of our friends in the future. The bioluminescence kayak tour was very disappointing and this tour company made many mistakes contributing to our poor experience. To start off, it seemed as though the tour should have been led by two guides, but we only had one. He did the best he could, but I could tell that this was a two-person job.
Getting in and out of the beach was long and painful. For how much money we paid ($300 for 2 people), we should not have been subject to loading and unloading the kayaks ourselves. We all helped unload the kayaks before launching thinking this was the usual process. However, after kayaking, we were all exhausted and still instructed by the tour guide that we had to lift the heavy kayaks all the way from the beach up onto the truck…Meanwhile, next to us we saw that a different kayak company dropped their guests off at home first, then came back to have the employees put away the kayaks…
Secondly, there should have been some system on the beach to make it easier to get on the kayak. Instead, we were forced to choose between walking barefoot on sharp logs and rocks on the beach (where there were lots of spiders crawling around) or getting our only shoes wet. Another guest and I only brought one pair of shoes for our trip, so getting it wet at 10pm when you need them the next morning was a huge inconvenience, so we chose to be barefoot. It was very cold and painful.
To top it all off, the bioluminescent planktons could barely be seen. They were so dim that halfway through the tour, one guest asked when we were going to be seeing the bioluminescent planktons. The guide was also not very good at explaining where we were going. The whole time, I kept hearing guests ask “so which way are we going?” It seemed very difficult for one guide to keep 10 guests together, which to me seems like a safety issue when you’re out in the ocean at night.
As we finished our tour, an employee from another kayaking company told our guide that we were blinding everyone by having our white headlamps on. All other tour groups were instructed to only have the red light on so their eyes could be adjusted to the dimness and be able to see the bioluminescence more clearly.
At the end of our kayak trip, everyone looked like they were beyond ready to go home. This miserable experience was not what we signed up for.
Overall, we tipped the tour guide well because it wasn’t his fault. However, whoever is in charge needs to make some serious improvements.
Written August 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Hello Cher, We are sorry you had such a bad experience! We gave you a call; however, your name is not in our reservation system so please give our office a call to verify and so we can discuss further! 360-378-5767. Your story sounded like a multitude of factors lead to an overall negative experience so I would like to address them one at a time. We did speak with who we believe to be your guide to get their half of the story as well. 1. Group Size – We do have a limited number of guides and vehicles. Unfortunately, this does mean that occasionally we will have group with up to 5 kayaks per tour guide. Our average group size is 6 people. Most of the time trips run more smoothly with 6-10 people as this means that there are plenty of hands to move kayaks briefly (less than 5 minutes) up and down the beach. We always use 4-6 people which makes moving kayaks safe, easy and fast. Your guide Sam instructed all guests to help with each kayak as per standard operating procedures. 2. Group Management – Your guide Sam stayed in constant contact with the group the entire time. He put glowsticks on every kayak so he could visually see you! We have since made it a policy to assign numbers to each kayak and periodically do a periodic roll call so that everyone feels safer! 3. Walking Barefoot Over Logs – There were two things a play here. Number one is that it was high tide at the beach. This can happen on our bioluminescence tours because we run the tours predominantly around the full and new moon which are the phases of the lunar cycle which have the largest tidal swings. When there is limited or no beach, there is no way to launch the kayaks besides exiting the kayak in the shallows and carrying the kayaks over the logs. This is not hazardous provided you have the proper footwear. All our kayak guests are sent a packing list ahead of time so they can be prepared with the proper footwear such as closed toed sandals or other water shoes. We recommend the ATB Bootie by NRS. Every single Sea Quest vehicle is always stocked with extra loaner water shoes because it is very common for people not to read the packing list. We have a reminder email that is sent out 5 days and 1 day before every trip that refers them back to the confirmation email with the packing list that all guests receive! Sam offered you water shoes, but you instead chose to go barefoot. 4. Lack of Bioluminescence - Your tour was on the new moon which means you theoretically should have had the best bioluminescence display of the entire month! The bioluminescence was very strong that evening as reported by Sam and none of the other guest on the tour complained about the lack of bioluminescence on the tour. 5. Blinding white light – Red lights do not give you the proper depth perception required to safely enter and exit and kayak or unload a kayak from a trailer. As such Sam did the safe and reasonable thing. The guide from the other company apparently cared more about being tipped well than preventing the guests from injuring themselves. Sam should not have been shamed for doing a safe and rational maneuver. The average person eyes adjust to the bioluminescence in under 3 minutes after turning off their white headlamps. 6. Everyone looked ready to go home – After paddling around until after midnight who wouldn’t be a bit eager to get back to their hotel, grab some food, take a hot shower and head to bed! None of the other guests reported anything negative at all about this trip so it is more than likely that you were projecting your subjective state onto those around you. If you have any further questions, considerations or complaints please contact me directly at 360-622-9663. Thanks, Ben Henkel - Owner
Written August 15, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Travelnat
United States128 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021 • Friends
For a first time sea kayaking experience, this one can’t be beat. I booked the 3 hour morning kayaking tour. They were prompt at pick up, all of the necessary equipment was provided, and they took us to a calm bay to explore. Our guide, Ben, was very knowledgeable and eager to share about the local flora and fauna which added to the experience. We saw many species or birds and saw a lot of seals. Even in the rain, this was a very fun adventure. If you do book with this company, closely read what they recommend what to wear as you do get wet and layers are crucial.
Written April 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for joining us on your first sea kayaking adventure! Our 3-hour morning tour provided prompt pick-up, necessary equipment, and a chance to explore a calm bay. I'm glad you enjoyed learning about local flora and fauna during the trip. Despite the rain, it sounds like you had a fun adventure, spotting many bird species and seals. Remember to dress according to our recommendations for a comfortable experience. Looking forward to more adventures with you!
Written February 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

lucinda
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
We chose Sea Quest for a 3 day kayaking expedition in August and the experience exceeded our expectations. In our group, 2 of us were experienced but 2 were brand new beginners. Ben was our guide and we were appreciative and amazed at his expertise which ranged from local wildlife and plants to tides and currents. We even saw a rare piliated woodpecker-! He proved to be such a pleasant and capable guide for the 4 of us, leading across the open water crossing, into the best campsites, hiking over to tour the light house, and then cooking gourmet meals. He was wise beyond his years and helped guide us through the wind and waves to our distant destination. A really awesome trip not to be forgotten. Unqualified recommendation-!
Written September 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

linda d
Portland, OR85 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Couples
My husband and I had never been Sea Kayaking before and joined another couple when they told us about it. There are several different organizations that do this and it seemed we were on the same routes. What I liked about this one was they have top of the line equipment and safety is important. Our guide was the lead one, Ben, and he not only know the currents and wind patterns ( so we used them to our advantage) but he also know the best places to stop and rest that were full of animals and natural beauty. He also is well informed about the area, geological landscape and all the animals and vegetation around us. He worked hard to find us a good campsite and made tasty meals that required lots of fresh food cut up. We will do this again and ask for Ben!
Written August 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
It's wonderful to hear about your first sea kayaking experience! I'm glad you found our organization appealing among the various options available. Safety and quality equipment are top priorities for us, so I'm pleased you felt confident with our gear. As your guide, I strive to make each trip memorable and enjoyable. Understanding the currents and wind patterns is crucial, and I'm glad we could use them to our advantage. It's rewarding to hear that you appreciated the scenic stops and wildlife sightings along the way. Sharing knowledge about the area's geology, wildlife, and vegetation is something I'm passionate about. I'm delighted you enjoyed the meals prepared during the trip. Fresh food always adds to the experience, and I'm glad you found them tasty. Thank you for considering another trip with us, and I'd be honoured to guide you again. Looking forward to more adventures together!
Written February 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Lindy M
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
Our guide Ben was amazing. Very knowledgeable about the area includes all local fauna and flora. He did a wonderful job guiding us and keeping us all safe and entertained.

The kayaks were very well maintained and and easy to maneuver in the ocean. Ben kept close tabs on the tides, currents and weather conditions to ensure we were traveling safely and kept our routes and camp sites in mind when navigating all of the variables.

The 3 day kayking trip was amazing. The views were gorgeous, the camp sites were pretty great and the national parks were well-maintained. We had our own sleeping bags but used their tent which was very easy to put up and breakdown.

The group of 12 was wonderful as well and we had a great time packing, unpacking, and helping to set up camp. The food was great and we even had homemade brownies on the first evening.

The kayking varied day to day based on the weather, but it was so much fun to spend time in nature. It was a wonderful trip. Thank you, Ben.
Written August 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback! I'm thrilled to hear that you had such a fantastic experience on our kayaking trip. Safety and enjoyment are always my top priorities, so I'm glad to hear that you felt safe and entertained throughout the journey. Monitoring the tides, currents, and weather conditions is essential for a smooth and secure trip, and I'm glad you noticed the effort I put into keeping us on the right track. I'm delighted that you found the kayaks well-maintained and easy to handle. A successful trip must have reliable equipment that you can trust. It sounds like you had an amazing time exploring the stunning views, setting up camp, and enjoying the delicious food with our group. Sharing experiences with fellow adventurers always adds to the fun and camaraderie of the trip. Nature has its surprises, doesn't it? I'm glad you enjoyed the ever-changing kayaking experiences despite the variability in weather conditions. Thank you once again for your kind words and for choosing to explore with us. It was truly a pleasure guiding you, and I hope to see you again for more adventures in the future!- Ben
Written February 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Lorraine Gonzales
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
What an adventure!!!! Thank you SeaQuest for a great adventure, attentiveness toward special dietary needs, and the ability to be flexible with the schedule. Ben was amazing to work with when I need to reschedule my trip and to ensure my dietary needs were met. Our amazing young guide Miya was knowledgeable, focused on safety, attentive to details (currents, ferry schedules and other logistics). She also allowed our small group an option from the original plan. Instead of spending the second night on Turn Island our group opted to stay a second night at Jones Island and explore the smaller surrounding islands on the second day. Alas we did not see orcas but that was never a guarantee. I recall a time when I attempted to submit Mt. Adams and failed the summit a friend said to me "its not about the summit its about the journey". He then asked if I had a good time. My response to his question was absolutely! My response is the same in regards to not seeing Orcas for this trip. I had a fantastic time on the three day kayaking and camping trip. The other guests, Leslie and John, along with our guide Miya were sensational company and a pure delight! I plan a future trip with Sea Quest! Bring on the adventures, beauty and awe!!! Lorraine Gonzales, Portland Oregon
Written September 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thanks Lorraine for your awesome review! We hope you come back sometime soon! Your spirituous mindset is amazing! - Ben
Written October 17, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Michele A
Springfield, MO1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022 • Couples
I definitely recommend Sea Quest to guide anyone on a kayaking experience in the San Juans. From sign up to the conclusion of the excursion, communication was wonderful. My husband and I had an idea what to expect every step of the way. We even got lucky and saw some orcas the very first day. Lots of harbor seals and other wildlife too.

We did get weathered out on day two, but everyone in our groups appreciated the dedication to safety. No viewing experience is worth risking a life so we were glad not to feel pushed into something that might be dangerous.
Written August 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thanks very much for your kind words! Yes we do take safety seriously! Thanks for acknowledging our decision making. Have a wonderful rest of your day!
Written August 15, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Sea Quest Kayak Tours - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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