Our kayaks on the beach of Deadman Bay during our Discovery Sea Kayaks excursion on San Juan Island, Washington

Indelible Memory: Kayaking the Salish Sea

By Andrew Harper

The Hideaway Report | December 15, 2017

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Pods of orcas congregate along the west coast of San Juan Island. In order to try and get an up-close view of them, we booked a full-day kayaking excursion with Discovery Sea Kayaks. Though originally from Texas, our guide, Andrew, displayed an impressive knowledge about the surrounding flora and fauna as our small group of five paddled along the shore.

Kayaking during our Discovery Sea Kayaks excursion on San Juan Island, Washington Photo by Andrew Harper

At first, banks of fog partially hid the steep bluffs of the island, and we could see only mysterious outlines in the silvery sunlight. The lighthouse we passed looked positively haunted. A pod of harbor porpoises surfaced in the distance, but the orcas remained hidden.

The Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island, Washington

After a quick lunch on the beach (we’d brought provisions from town), we returned to the water. The fog cleared and we spotted basking harbor seals; in a thicket of kelp, a sea otter quickly ducked out of sight. Birds were everywhere, and Andrew knew them all.

At one point, we paused to admire some Salish pictographs depicting a sea turtle and the Beaver, the first Western vessel able to outrun the Salish canoes. As we inspected the designs, trying to imagine how the artist reached that section of the bluff, a curious harbor sea pup surfaced nearby, inspecting us.

The orcas eluded us that day, but it was an unforgettable kayaking trip nevertheless.

 Sneak Peek

This article appeared in The Hideaway Report, a monthly newsletters exclusively for members.

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Andrew Harper Photo Our editors write under the Andrew Harper byline so they can travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who they are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.


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