Kayak Camp on Jones Island

Rate this Adventure Washington Friday Harbor

Added by Michael Gabbert

  • Gorgeous views of the San Juan Islands
  • Up close and personal experience with wildlife (seals, otters, dolphins, and the occasional orca pod through the channel)
  • Amazing camping experience in an amazing part of the US
  • 6 mile paddle from Friday Harbor to Jones Island

The San Juan Islands are a gorgeous collection of islands situated 90 miles from Seattle. While most people enjoy the island at B&Bs, and join one of the dozen whale watching tours, the hands down best way to see the islands is by kayaking.

Jones Island is a great place to set as your initial destination for a kayak trip. To get to the ideal launching point, first head to Anacortes and board a ferry to Friday Harbor on Orcas Island. Anacortes itself is about a 90 minute drive from Seattle, and the ferry takes approximately an hour. (Note: it is ideal to bring your kayak onto the ferry via a kayak cart. You can also drive your kayaks onto the ferry, but parking once you get onto Friday Harbor is more difficult and more expensive.) Once at Friday Harbor, walk 50 yards from the ferry terminal and drop in your kayaks at any of the surrounding docks.

Located about 6 miles from Friday Harbor, Jones Island offers a great kayaking and camping experience without an overly strenuous day of paddling. Once on the water, you can either hug the entire eastern coast of Orcas Island, or head due east towards Shaw Island and hug its west coast while heading north. Either route will get you to your end destination with the same distance traveled. Ultimately, the key factors for consideration between the routes may be the wind speed/direction and tide pull/direction.

Two areas of interest on your way to Jones are on the Shaw Island route. The first is Yellow Island, located about a mile south of Jones Island. This is a great island for a quick break before the final push to Jones. The other is an unknown island, which exists only during low tide, made up of a collection of three large rocks set 100-200 yards to the south of Yellow Island. When present, two dozen seals and more than fifty seagulls can be seen making this island their temporary home.

Once you arrive at Jones Island you can head to the southern bay, which will give you access to several campsites. If you travel another ½ mile up the western shore of the island, however, you’ll come to an additional beach which has campsites reserved for human powered vehicles only. Besides being less crowded, these campsites offer a far more spectacular location and a western-facing view to take in the incredible sunsets over the other islands.

In addition to the camping spots, the island has 4 miles worth of hiking trails around its perimeter. As a fair warning, the wildlife on the island consists of a small number of tame deer and overly aggressive raccoons, so ensure that all food etc. is stored away in the kayaks before nightfall.

Pack List

  • Kayak
  • Kayak cart
  • Splash skirt
  • Dry bags
  • Camp food
  • Stove (campfires might not be possible depending on the season)
  • Water bottles (there is a fresh water fountain on both ends of the island)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun glasses
  • Binoculars
  • Overnight gear
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Camping, Kayaking

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn


Adult Beverages

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Added by Michael Gabbert

Minnesotan living in Seattle. Email: mjgabbert@gmail.com

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