Kayak Camp on Stuart Island

Washington Stuart Island - San Juan Islands

Added by Michael Gabbert

  • A unique view of the San Juan Islands
  • Putting yourself in perfect position to catch a glimpse of Orca Whale running through the Haro Straight
  • 15-16 mile paddle from Friday Harbor (7-10 miles from Roche Harbor)
  • Gorgeous costal kayaking experience

The northwestern-most point of the San Juan Islands, Stuart Island, is arguably the most gorgeous island to circumnavigate. Unfortunately, as Stuart Island is 16 miles away from the closest ferry port, there is no simple way to get there in one day. A couple of options to get there include:

1) Once at Friday Harbor find a transfer to Roche Harbor (or if you are taking your car on the ferry to Friday Harbor you can simply drive to Roche Harbor). Set forth from Roche Harbor to Stuart Island – 7-10 miles.

2) Start at Friday Harbor and paddle to Jones Island (6 miles) and camp for the night (check out my outbound adventure on Jones Island for more information on this route). Embark on the journey to Stuart Island the next morning (another 10 miles)

3) Depart Friday Harbor and paddle a full 15-16 miles in one day

Regardless of the route you decide upon, you’ll paddle on a northern route to the island. As you approach the Stuart, you’ll have another decision as there are two campsite locations on the island. The first is located at the end of Reid Harbor at the southern part of the island. The second is on the eastern side of the island within Prevost Harbor. If your plan is to simply visit the island, Reid Harbor is going to be your easier and quicker option. If your plan is to circumnavigate the island and kayak around Turn Point and through Boundary Pass and Haro Straight, Prevost Harbor campsite is your best bet.

Depending on the time you arrive, you'll have the option to set-up camp and set out to explore the coast or enjoy a relaxed evening and head out the next morning. From Prevost Camp, head Northwest along the coast and you'll encounter a hotbed for Bald Eagles and Seals. With Canada to your right and Mount Baker behind you as you paddle west, Turn Point Lighthouse is a quick 1 - 1.5 mile paddle from camp. As you round the Turn Point bend you'll encounter a gorgeous cliffside with hundreds of Cormorants calling this area home. The remainder of the paddle down the western coast of Stewart Island has sweeping views of Canada to your right and a ever-changing, yet gorgeous Stuart Island coastline to your left. At this point, be sure to keep you eyes on the water as the Haro Straight is known for its frequent Orca sightings.

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 fountains next to each of the campsites on the island)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun glasses
  • Binoculars
  • Overnight gear (Tent, Sleeping Bags, etc.)
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Camping, Kayaking

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn




Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

5 months ago

One of the best!

Stuart Island is one of my favorites in the San Juans...the light house hike it always an epic spot for sunsets!

5 months ago

8 months ago


The drive from Friday to Roche is gorgeous, and it only gets better form there! Paddling out of Roche and crossing over to Stuart is an awesome crossing. Stuart Island is a little spot that has an amazing amount to offer between the school, lighthouse, and the campgrounds. Would highly recommend making your way along this trip

8 months ago

Added by Michael Gabbert

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

More Adventures Nearby

Hike to Gem Lake

Washington / Snow Lake Trailhead

The trail to Gem Lake lies along the same trail that passes by the incredibly popular Snow Lake.

Shelby Pothier
20 Saves

Hike to Snow Lake, WA

Washington / Snow Lake Trail

This hike gets crowded fairly quickly so get there early. The parking lot is very large so parking is not really a problem.

Austin Johnson
38 Saves

Backpack to Navaho Pass

Washington / Stafford Creek Trailhead

This is a beautiful trail in the Teanaway area, located in Washington State. The trailhead starts along the Stafford Creek Trail and follows the creek for the first couple miles of the trail.

Cammeron Evans
38 Saves