Exploring the San Juan Islands

Wild Coastlines, Whales, and Pristine Wilderness aboard the Catalyst or Westward


The coastlines of Washington and the San Juan Islands are a charming world apart filled with fascinating wildlife. Explore the best of this pristine realm aboard a small "gentleman's yacht" that carries just 8 or 12 passengers. On a six-day cruise, sail from Bellingham, crossing the San Juan channel to explore some of the 130 small islands that dot the area. Kayak alongside rocky cliffs and to small islands, walk along mossy beaches, and hike through old-growth forests to mountain peaks with incredible views of the San Juan archipelago. Traveling by small boat is the perfect way to navigate into hidden bays where large boats can't go, and you'll savor fantastic sea-to-table cuisine from the on-board chef. There is nothing quite like watching for whales, orcas, dolphins, and eagles from the deck of this historic vessel. Join us!

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary at a Glance

Please note: the captain and naturalist guide may make adjustments to the itinerary, including anchorages and hiking routes, depending on tides, local weather, and trail conditions.

Days 1-2
Cypress Island / Kayaking

From Bellingham, board the ship and head south to Cypress Island for a picturesque hike through old-growth forests. Morning kayaking expeditions allow you to search for whales, orcas, and dolphins at water-level as eagles fly overhead.

Days 2-3
Lopez Island / Wine and Cider Tasting

Lopez Island is home to San Juan's oldest vineyard and beautiful orchards. Sample some of its award-winning organic wine as well as cider at a cidery. Walk through pear orchards and ornamental gardens at the historic British army camp at Garrison Bay.

Days 5-6
Speiden Island / Turn Point Lighthouse / Sucia Island

Visit Speiden Island, with its large population of mouflon sheep, fallow deer, and sika deer that were once brought over for trophy hunters. A hike to Turn Point Lighthouse leads to the most northwesterly place in the continental US, and you'll enjoy a final kayak excursion at Echo Bay near Sucia Island, the gem of northern San Juan Islands. Depart on Day 6.



Watch for whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and seabirds
Kayak, paddle board, and explore by skiff in island channels formed by glaciers
Hike in old-growth forests, relax aboard a "gentleman's yacht"


Length: 6 days
Cost From: $3250  
Arrive: Bellingham, Washington
Depart: Bellingham, Washington
Lodging: 5 nights aboard a historic 72-foot wooden vessel with six cabins
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Small Boat and Yacht Cruising, Sea Kayaking, Walking, Wildlife and Natural History
Trip Level:

6-day cruise, wilderness and coastal explorations, easy to moderate sea kayaking and hiking (no previous kayaking experience necessary)
Exploring the san juan islands brochure

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Download a PDF of our Exploring the San Juan Islands Detailed Itinerary to learn more about our day-to-day itinerary, prices and dates, the boat, and leaders.