6-Day Sailing Tour of the San Juan & Gulf Islands


Trip Highlights


Join us for an all-inclusive multi day sailing tour of the most beautiful marine environment in the world!

Our multi-day, all inclusive sailing tours are the best way to unwind, relax and immerse yourself in the Salish Sea's natural beauty. With each day aboard, you'll feel a deeper connection to the natural world as you let the stresses of everyday land based life melt away. We follow the rhythms of the wind and tides to show you the true beauty of this magical archipelago.

Sailing from our home port of Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, we are quickly in one of the most scenic and wildlife-rich areas of the world. Our naturalist captain will hoist the sails and guide your small group in an intimate exploration of wildlife and nature by eco-friendly sail power.

Sailing aboard the S/V Nawalak is about escaping the crowds, relaxing, and connecting with nature and the sea while exploring the quiet beaches and pristine islands of the northwest. During our tours we share with you the gems and secrets we’ve discovered in our 30+ years of sailing these amazing waterways.

Gourmet Chef on board!
Gourmet Chef on board!

Our chef specializes in bringing your culinary whims to fruition with rich, distinctive cuisine and the freshest local ingredients.

Deluxe accomodations
Deluxe accomodations

Our staterooms are heated and comfortable with fresh linens, towels and toiletries provided. Our dining table has panoramic views from inside the heated pilot house.

Boarding from Orcas Island
Boarding from Orcas Island

Our home port is Deer Harbor Marina on beautiful Orcas Island. Private trips can start and end anywhere in the San Juan Islands or Puget Sound!

No Sailing Experience Necessary
No Sailing Experience Necessary

Our USCG licensed, lifelong sailor captain and crew will handle all the sail hoisting and navigating, but if you want to join in, or want to learn how to harness the wind, we love teaching.


Each trip is a unique experience. We stay in rhythm with the tides, currents and wind to bring you the best experience on the water possible. As locals, we know the "out of the way" places where the wildlife is, the best sailing routes and the calmest waters. If you have a special destination you want to see, just let us know.


Tour info

6 days
Group Size
2 to 6
Price starts at
Meeting Point

5164 Deer Harbor Rd Deer Harbor WA

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Why take this tour?

Our 5 & 6 day tours offer you a longer chance to experience some of the most scenic and intriguing places along the NW Coast.

The unique beauty and sunny weather of Washington’s San Juan Islands have been famous for generations. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the nearly 200 unique islands get about half the rainfall of Seattle. The alluring charm of this archipelago is expressed both in its natural landscapes, and its diverse wildlife – above and below the water. Grass and moss carpeted hillsides give way to graceful madronas and sculpted firs. Wildflowers fill the meadows in spring and early summer. The occasional sand or gravel beach is punctuated by whimsically shaped sandstone, beckoning the kids to explore. Rich emerald waters yield fish for the grill, crab and prawns for a shore-side feast. Three groups of orca whales call the islands home during the year, chasing the salmon that migrate through. Eagles perch in shore-side trees, and a variety of seabirds cruise the bays and channels, diving for fish. Protected park land abounds with several islands devoted entirely to the marine explorer. A large variety of trails provide great opportunities for discovery. A sunny overlook, a hidden cove, a quaint one-room school house, or an abandoned lighthouse are among the myriad treasures to be found. Local artist’s galleries, restaurants, and elegant resorts with spas lend variety on the bigger islands.

With a two hour sail to the north, the Canadian Gulf Islands take up where the San Juans leave off. Similarly beautiful in topography and weather, they provide a quieter, even more relaxed experience. Myriad peaceful coves, madrona-clad sandstone bluffs, and mossy woodland trails invite adventurers. As in the San Juans, many sandy beaches lay thickly fringed with white shells; the telltale evidence of ancient village sites of the seafood eating Coast Salish people. Relax with us in a protected anchorage while one of the famous sunsets caps another memorable day.


  • Gourmet meals prepared daily by our on-board chef

  • Kayaks, SUPs, Electric inflatable dinghy

  • Experienced naturalist USCG captain

  • Convenient pick up and drop off locations any where in the San Juan Islands


  • Gratuities not included in cost of tour, but are welcome!

Frequently asked questions

The coastlines we sail are rich with life. Depending on the time of year, sea mammals you might see include Orca, Humpback and Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoise, Dahl’s Porpoise, White-sided Dolphins, Sea Otters, River Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions. On land you have the opportunity to see Minks, Otters, Black-tailed Deer, Raccoons, and imported exotic wildlife. As we journey northward it becomes increasingly likely to find coastal Wolves, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Grizzlies, and the White Kermode, or “Spirit” Bear. There are too many feathered friends to list. The Bald Eagle is a daily visitor. Other favorites of ours include Oyster Catchers, Marbled Murrelettes, Scoters, and Great Blue Herons. For a truly world class natural experience the old-growth forests of northern B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest house an especially rich and diverse community of creatures. Our unobtrusive electric powered dingy allows us the unique advantage of near silence while viewing and photographing wildlife.
It’s best to be prepared for a temperature range of 55° to 80° F. When sailing, even on a warm summer day, the breeze experienced on deck when heading up wind can elicit the need for cozier clothing. The best dress for sailing is layers. For northern tours, close to the skin, wear a moisture wicking layer, then an insulative layer (fleece, wool...), and an outer wind/water resistant layer. Waterproof shoes or rubber boots are an advantage on deck and for getting to and exploring shorelines and estuaries. Shorts and a bathing suit are great for a summer swim or hot spring soak. For life below decks bring casual and comfortable clothing. Don’t forget your favorite pair of slippers! We’ll send you a detailed list of what to bring when you submit your reservation.
The San Juan and Gulf Islands are known for their sunny summer days. We receive about half the rain of Seattle due to the rainshadow of the Olympics and Vancouver Island mountain ranges. Temperatures range from 55°-80° F in the spring, summer, and fall, and average 40°-50° F in the winter months. The Great Bear Rainforest of northern B.C. produces more variable weather. It’s not called a rain forest for nothing! Temperatures are usually in the 60s throughout our sailing season there. You will likely encounter a mix of sunshine with occasional rain during your trip, but you will stay warm and dry in our roomy pilothouse.
It depends on what you are looking for. April and May display an incredible abundance of spring flowers. Some areas are particularly spectacular with color at this time. The sunniest and warmest months of the year are July, August, and September. This is the best time of year to see the Great Bear Rainforest. October through mid-June offers the best sailing wind and the quietest privacy in anchorages. We have had incredible trips in January! With our heating systems and all-weather pilothouse this time of year can be a magically peaceful and comfortable experience.
Nearly all of the waters we sail in are well protected. Most people who are concerned about seasickness are pleasantly surprised that its not an issue for them on our trips. However, some of our trips involve making brief passages that can occasionally get rough enough to elicit this unfortunate gastronomic state. We recommend you speak with your doctor or pharmacist regarding appropriate motion sickness medication. In our experience for mild queasiness, the acupressure wrist bands, ginger tea or crystallized ginger (which we have on board), and staying above decks can be of great help. The good news is that after we’ve finished a rough passage, the seasickness disappears!
Absolutely! We love having children on board. It can be a hugely educational experience for them. There are many activities to keep them occupied, and enough new and exciting experiences to keep them talking about their trip for a long time. We do, however, prefer that if your child is younger than 10 that the guest list is filled by your party alone.
It’s a cruise that includes a captain and crew/chef who take care of all shipboard duties including safe navigation, local knowledge of choice attractions, and meals and cleaning. You can do as much or as little as you like. We are at your service!
No. The level of activity varies depending on the trip. However, anyone who can get in and out of the dingy and go for short walks will do fine. We have had mobility-impaired guests having wonderful cruises with us without ever leaving the boat! There are many beautiful things to see right from the cabin and deck!
All onboard meals, including select wines with most dinners. On some trips you will cover one dinner ashore. Your heated cabin includes a bed made with sheets, pillows, comforters, and blankets. Towels, cloths, shampoo, and soap are also complementary. You are welcome to use the inflatable, kayak, and all fishing, crabbing, and shrimping gear. If you prefer to overnight at a place with moorage fees, you are responsible for them, as well as any fishing licenses, and most off boat tours.
On multi-day trips we try to have at least one shoreside exploration per day. In the Great Bear Rainforest we typically take the dinghy up a pristine river and go for a short walk, or explore a remote beach, or abandoned native village. In the San Juans and Gulf Islands many forest trails, beaches, and country roads await the happy wanderer.
Opportunities for education abound. Your skipper is a trained naturalist, and enjoys pointing out a special plant, and its traditional uses, or identifying an animal and explaining its habits. Local history and native culture are other subjects you'll learn about. The captain also enjoys teaching sailing to anyone interested. Our trips in the Great Bear and the Inside Passage incorporate Native guides who will lead you through abandoned village sites, and enthrall with tales of battles, ancient customs, and the history of the once mighty Kwakwak’wakw. Or take part in a traditional open fire salmon bake and learn of the rich past of the Heiltsuk. The boat makes a great platform for seminars and workshops. We also offer instructor-led cruises in subjects such as meditation, photography, and whale observation. Please see charter options. If you are an instructor interested in leading an art cruise feel free to contact us.
Our scheduled tours focus in the San Juans April through July, with one trip up the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in early August, mid August to mid September in the Northern Great Bear Rainforest of the northern B.C. coast, and one trip down the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in mid September. Please see our schedule. Any time you don’t see a scheduled trip booked the boat is open and available, so don’t hesitate to inquire.
All of our rooms are double occupancy (View ship schematic), and allow for a maximum of six guests. If you prefer a private stateroom we will try to accommodate you. There will be an additional 50% fee if the tour is otherwise full.
By Coast Guard regulation, we can take up to six guests. On our instructional cruises, and with workshops and seminars, we can bring an instructor in addition to the six guests.
No. The captain and crew are perfectly capable of taking care of all sailing. However, you are welcome to participate at any time for your own enjoyment. The captain is a lifetime sailor, and would love to help you with your sailing skills. By the end of the trip you may just be ready for the America’s Cup!

Things to know

Our Vessel

Nawalak (Kwakwaka'wakw word meaning spirit of nature) is a 55' Pilothouse Ketch Sailboat. Our heated and dry pilothouse means if we encounter a rain shower (it is the PNW!) guests and the captain can sit cozily warm and dry while having panoramic views. The interior is created almost entirely of ...

Nawalak (Kwakwaka'wakw word meaning spirit of nature) is a 55' Pilothouse Ketch Sailboat. Our heated and dry pilothouse means if we encounter a rain shower (it is the PNW!) guests and the captain can sit cozily warm and dry while having panoramic views. The interior is created almost entirely of teak and mahogany having five private staterooms, plus two heads with enclosed, private showers. There is also a well equipped, commercial quality galley and on deck bbq grill allowing our chef to create sumptuous meals each day.

What should I bring?

Included in your tour is all food and non-alcoholic beverages. A bottle of wine is served with each dinner, and if you would like to bring your own wine, beer or spirits, feel free to do so. A warm cozy stateroom with fresh linens and blankets awaits you after a day sailing and exploring. All tow...

Included in your tour is all food and non-alcoholic beverages. A bottle of wine is served with each dinner, and if you would like to bring your own wine, beer or spirits, feel free to do so. A warm cozy stateroom with fresh linens and blankets awaits you after a day sailing and exploring. All towels and toiletries are provided also.
Feel free to bring any books, cameras, sketchbooks, journals etc.

Cancellation Policy

The 30% deposit is fully refundable minus a $200 admin fee if cancellation occurs 90 days or more before scheduled departure. Cancellation after 90 days prior to departure may result in forfeiture of the charter fee. A refund of your total charter fee will be made if your reservation(s) are fille...

The 30% deposit is fully refundable minus a $200 admin fee if cancellation occurs 90 days or more before scheduled departure. Cancellation after 90 days prior to departure may result in forfeiture of the charter fee. A refund of your total charter fee will be made if your reservation(s) are filled by another party, minus a $200 admin fee and any fee decreases incurred by EISC.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at any time – we very much look forward to sailing with you!

Customer Reviews

tripadvisor reviews

Six days aboard the vessel Na'walak with naturalist Captain Dave and joyful Chef Faith was an absolute delight. Whether sailing, motoring, hiking, kayaking or enjoying fine dining in the cozy pilot house, we were Five Happy Campers.If you're looking to be well looked after while on a sailing trip, climb aboard and head out of the harbor with Emerald Isle Sailing Charters--the Salish Sea's most interesting, informative and just plain fun adventure...

tripadvisor reviews

Sailing the San Juan’s was a bucket item list for us—the natural beauty of the islands attracted our nature-lover inner senses. What we did not anticipate was the amazing knowledge of the area from Captain Dave. Listening to him share the history of the islands and his pointing out those areas on our hikes/sails, was something way beyond our expectations. And the food? Wow! Chef Faith blew us away with her presentation and the taste of the food—all healthy!! The six days flew by but we are forever changed by the bonding of this group of five people who shared this time together—our memories will last a lifetime.

tripadvisor reviews

I just returned from an exceptional 6-day San Juans excursion with Captain Dave. I signed up for the sailing, hiking, kayaking, and great scenery…and the trip certainly delivered in those areas. But the real magic of this vacation is in Dave’s expansive knowledge (seamanship, the natural world, local history), the wonderful cuisine that our chef Faith thoughtfully prepared, the easygoing and serene coves we stayed in each night, and the great conversations with new friends. You can lose yourself in the scenery, solitude, and sailing…and emerge recharged from a truly unique experience!

tripadvisor reviews

Truly an amazing experience and highly recommended. Captain Dave was exceptional! His knowledge of the area, history and wildlife were always insightful and not too intrusive to a relaxing day on the water. The boat is in amazing shape and very comfortable. We did 6 hours with 8 people including Dave and his helper. Plenty of space to move around, chill out and enjoy the stellar views. I would use this place again in a heartbeat!

tripadvisor reviews

Exceptional experience!!!! Capitán Dave really goes out of his way to make you feel at home and provide a memorable experience. His knowledge, caring, and expertise are awesome. He talked about the different islands, provided specific information about them, explained some of the history and made the tour extremely interesting and enjoyable. We had a wonderful time, relaxed, have fun, laughed, and throughly enjoyed. Along the way we saw Porpoises, a Gigantic jellyfish (Fried Egg Jellyfish), Bold eagles, Seals, Sea lions, Harbor Seals, Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemot, and ORCAS!!!! Yes, Orcas, 4 of them!!! So close, that we felt as we were swimming with them. Dave knew that 2 of them were males and 2 females. It was absolutely wonderful and Awesome. Will definitely do it again, probably even a 6 day family trip 😋🤩👍🏼 Very appreciative of the time we spent together!!!!

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