Frequently Asked Questions from Beginner KayakersSea Quest
If you are a beginner kayaker, you may have some frequently asked questions about your sea kayaking tour that are answered in this beginner kayaker FAQ.
At Sea Quest Kayak Expeditions, we pride ourselves on making your kayaking vacation a fun and memorable experience. If you can’t find the answer to your questions in the beginner kayaker faq, don’t hesitate to email us from our Contact page or call us at 360-378-5767. We are here to help you with your vacation planning in any way possible.
Your checklist was great and my husband was given complete and polite answers both times he phoned with additional questions. We were surprised at how stable our kayaks were as it was our first experience with this sport. We stayed perfectly dry too. Not only in the kayaks but also in our tent when it rained. The guide was outstanding…full of information about everything we saw, great sense of humor, articulate, and conscientious about everyone’s safety. This was the most fun and exciting experience our family remembers from any vacation. We’ve been raving to everyone about it. We plan to return on a longer sea kayaking trip next year! Our heartfelt thanks to you. Judy Fessenden, Camarillo, CA
Beginner Kayaker FAQ: Questions about our Sea Kayaking Adventures
Click on any of the questions below to read the answer!
No experience is necessary! Beginners are welcome on all Sea Quest kayak tours. Most of our guests have never been in a sea kayak before. Anyone in average physical condition may join a kayak tour. If you can hike or bike, you can paddle our sea kayaks. You do not need any swimming skills either. The only prerequisite is a healthy spirit of curiosity and adventure. Regardless of age or skill level you will find that our expeditions offer enough flexibility to make your experience with us safe and rewarding. We will show you proper sea kayaking technique and water safety before leaving the beach. And your expert guides will be with you throughout the adventure to give you pointers and improve your skills.
Your safety is our number one concern. Our guides are the best trained professionals and will be constantly watching out for your safety. In our 25+ years of company history, and 60+ years of our founders guiding experience, no one has ever sustained a serious injury on any Sea Quest kayak trip. In general, sea kayaking is safer than most other outdoor pursuits – even bicycling!
The tandem kayaks we use comfortably hold two paddlers and are extremely stable, much more than solo kayaks. Its actually quite difficult to tip a tandem kayak over. Capsizes happen to fewer than 1 out of 1000 our of participants. Nearly all capsizes are a result of water fights and other sorts of goofing around. More information on the kayaks we provide is given at the bottom of this page.
No. Our philosophy is to stay comfortable, warm and dry while kayaking and camping. The only exception to this will be your feet as they normally get wet when getting in and out of the kayaks. Most people prefer to wear sandals or beach shoes anyway as the weather in our various trip locations is very pleasant, usually dry, and daytime temperatures average in the 60’s to 80’s.
Please click here to learn more about our professional kayak guide staff. We are very proud of their experience, training, and skills. Most of our guides have been sea kayaking and leading outdoor adventures for many years, and many have been leading trips for decades! Our San Juan Island sea kayak guides are primarily biologists and environmental scientists. Sea Quest guides will make sure that you see the most and learn as much as your curiosity will bear. They are gifted naturalists, teachers, camp cooks, and trip leaders who have dedicated themselves to continually improve their skills. Here at Sea Quest, we make sure your guides are properly trained, educated, and fun to be with!
People a lot like you! Although there is a great variety of travelers who participate in our kayaking trips, one common thing everyone shares is a love of the outdoors and self-propelled movement through it. Our guests like to be active and involved. Our average group is made up of an even number of singles and couples and friends. There is no need to worry about coming alone. Our group size gives everyone a great chance to get to know each other. Our maximum group size varies from 10 to 12 guests, depending on the location. However, the average group size is about 6 to 8 persons per kayak tour.
The ages of most guests range from the early teens through mid-60’s. In the San Juan Islands we have minimum age limits of 5 and 12 depending on the trip length – please see our Kayaking Reservations page for more details in the “Age Limitations” section. Our minimum age limit is 16 for some trip locations. Custom trips can accommodate younger paddlers in most destinations. There is no upper age limit, although for those over 65 we prefer to discuss their physical abilities before making a reservation.
Our sea kayaking trips are rated “moderate” for overall physical difficulty. Most of time we will be moving at an easy pace. But some trips do encounter strong headwinds at times that cannot be avoided and will require more strenuous effort. If you enjoy hiking, bicycling, or swimming, then you are already in shape for sea kayaking. If you don’t exercise regularly, we recommend you do some activities that use your upper body, arms and shoulders for about two weeks before your trip.
Sea kayaking distance is best measured in hours rather than miles. We usually paddle from two to six hours each day but this can be influenced by several factors: weather, tide and currents, and how much kayaking time the group wants. We start off each kayak tour with a planned route, but there is always some flexibility available. In fact, remaining flexible in your plans is key to enjoying any outdoor adventure. On calm days we may choose to paddle a couple of extra hours, or if we know whales are in a particular area, we may alter our course to increase the chances of an encounter.
All of our kayak trips are scheduled during the optimal periods of best weather in their specific regions. Any scheduled kayak tour affords an excellent chance of gorgeous weather. Regarding the best times for wildlife, we again schedule our kayaking adventures to coincide with the peaks in local abundance.
Our kayaks trips are designed for whale watching and on the majority of kayak trips we do see whales. Depending on the tour location, length of tour, and exact month, your chances can range all the way up to 100%. Here’s an actual example based on our long term records – if you go on a three-day orca watching trip in the San Juan Islands during the month of July you will have an 80% chance of seeing at least one pod of killer whales! Check the trip details for specifics on each area’s whale sightings. Some sightings are very brief or distant, yet other encounters can involve whales swimming beneath your kayak or lingering nearby for over an hour. Some trips get to see whales every day and a few unlucky ones miss out altogether.
The answer is an emphatic YES! These intelligent mammals are alert, agile despite their size, and do NOT collide with kayaks. They treat kayakers with the same respect that we show them. Kayaking with whales is a thrilling and unforgettable experience!
We choose our campsites for their beauty, access to wildlife, and ease of landing kayaks. In some trip areas these may be marine state parks, national parks, water trail sites, privately-owned, or a variety of the above.
Our campsites are all primitive locations that lack shower facilities. But you can swim and take sponge baths to stay clean. Kayakers don’t get as sweaty and dirty as most other outdoor sports anyway. Outhouses are available at our campsites in the San Juan Islands. In other destinations we often use portable toilet systems similar to those used on river rafting trips.
Sea Quest will provide all of your kayaking gear. You will bring the same clothing and things you would for any hike on the beach. For camping trips you bring your own sleeping bag and pad, but for your convenience, we have these available for a small rental fee. When you reserve your space, we will send a complete checklist with packing instructions. If you follow this advice you will be comfortable throughout your kayaking adventure.
Our kayaking adventures are certain to create healthy appetites. We provide hot and hearty meals for both breakfast and dinner. Fresh wholesome ingredients are the foundation of our nutritious, tasty meals. The menus include baked goods, vegetables, salads, fruits, and edibles we’ve gathered from land and sea. Your kayak guides are energetic camp chefs and have been carefully trained in the skillful preparation of delicious, healthy meals. That’s why our guests consistently remark that they are pleasantly surprised by the very high quality of our kayak camping meals.
Please click here to learn more about our state-of-the-art sea kayaking equipment. Very simply put, it’s the best available! We want your introduction to sea kayaking and camping to be a good one. That’s why we provide kayaking equipment designed for comfort, safety, and quality. While on the water or in remote regions, you won’t have to worry about your gear when you’re with Sea Quest.
We use tandem (double) sea kayaks on all of our kayak tours. In the San Juan Islands, we also have triple kayaks for families with small children. Triples can also be used to accommodate folks who can’t paddle but still want to participate on a kayaking trip. All outfitters who put safety as the top priority follow this policy of using tandem kayaks. The reasons for using tandems or triples are as follows:
Speed – Length equals speed. Therefore, the longer waterline of a tandem kayak makes it significantly faster than a solo kayak. Our triple kayaks are even faster! This is important when a group is faced with crossing an exposed body of water when weather threatens.
Stability – The extra width of a tandem kayak provides excellent stability. You’ll appreciate this most in choppy water, and when observing or photographing wildlife. The greater stability of tandems allows us extra freedom to travel in a greater variety of sea conditions.
Flexibility – With tandems we have the option to pair people of different strengths so the entire group can move at the same pace. No one gets separated from the group this way. Also, if someone develops a minor injury or illness during the kayak tour, they can get relief from paddling by being seated in a tandem kayak. Please note that if you come with a partner or friend, you can expect to paddle with that person for the entire trip! The need to change partners occurs very rarely, and usually only for a brief period of the trip!
Occasionally, we get a request from someone who wants to use a solo kayak. There are exceptions to our general rule of using tandems. If you have taken a sea kayak rescue training class from a reputable program and can provide documentation of successful completion from your instructor, it is possible to use a solo kayak on our tours. Sometimes, solo kayaks may be limited and might have to be shared during the trip, and/or restricted to protected areas in good weather conditions depending on skill level.
Definitely. Our guides are very experienced kayakers and can instruct you in many of the finer skills of sea kayaking. They love teaching, so just let them know what you would like to work on during your kayak trip: navigation, route selection, reading tide and current tables, braces, or any topic you desire.