Kayaking Obstruction Island: An Easy Orcas Island Paddle

Obstruction Island is a place for (relatively) safe and easy kayaking on Orcas Island if you’re style is paddling without a guide. What follows is a description of the route, followed by a GPX track and map.

Kayaking Obstruction Island: An Easy Orcas Island Paddle

Obstruction Island is a place for (relatively) safe and easy kayaking on Orcas Island if you’re style is paddling without a guide. What follows is a description of the route, followed by a GPX track and map.

Safety is always an important consideration when kayaking. Group opportunities for kayaking with Orcas or other paddling adventures abound in the San Juan Islands — but many places aren’t recommended for the newbie or less-experienced kayaker. Tales are told  of kayakers getting “whisked off to Canada” on an unexpected current.

During a recent mother-daughter trip to Orcas Island, I wanted to find a satisfying paddle that wouldn’t land us in the water or on some other, unintended, island.

But an intended island is a good thing! Boasting that you’ve circumnavigated an entire island sounds impressive. You don’t have to reveal that the said island was only .3406 square miles. The trip, going at my leisurely pace, took just under 1.5 hours.

Obstruction Island sits in Obstruction Bay, just off the southeast part of Orcas Island and is mostly protected from strong winds.  Our day was a bit grey and windy; on sunnier days, you might see sea birds or harbor seals.

Several homes can be seen from shore. People actually live (or, perhaps, have vacation homes) on Obstruction Island, which is only accessible by boat so motorized craft are allowed. So, at times, you’ll need to watch for their wakes. Several small beach areas suitable for landing a kayak can be seen around the island if you need a rest or want to stop for a snack.

Getting There:

If you want to take this journey, don’t go to Obstruction Pass State Park — go there to hike, but not to launch your boat. Navigate to Orcas Island Kayaks by the Lieber Haven Marina (see map below) even if you don’t need to rent. There you’ll find a dock, a boat ramp, and beach area — for whatever launch style floats your boat.

Easy Kayaking Orcas Island Kayaking Obstruction Island Lieber Haven Marina an
  • Distance Instructions

Obstruction Island Circumnavigation

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May 15, 2019
Cheryl Dimof

About this Route:

In the San Juans, there are plenty of escorted kayaking tours, but less-experienced kayakers need to be careful as some places may have currents that can carry you off to Canada. Kayaking around Obstruction Island from Orcas Island is a satisfying excursion in mostly easy waters.

Despite what the information says above, the paddle around the island comes to about 3.5 miles total. Leave from the beach or boat ramp by Orcas Island Kayaks in Olga.

For a post related to this paddle, click here.