Sea Kayaking Guides

Guide training is a fun and exciting part of the job with Anacortes Kayak Tours
Kayak guide training is always fun with Anacortes Kayak Tours
Guides practice rescue training in Deception Pass with Anacortes Kayak Tours
Practicing rescues in Deception Pass with Anacortes Kayak Tours
Our professional kayak instructors help our guides prepare for the job of leading tours in the San Juan islands.
Professional kayak instructors lead a guide training class in Anacortes.
A kayak guide in a whirlpool, Deception Pass Washington.
Kayak guide Asher March goes for the big ride in a Deception Pass whirlpool.
Kayak guides practice assisted rescues in the Anacortes Kayak Tours guide training program.
Assisted rescue training with AKT, Deception Pass Washington.
Instructor training guides on kayak repair after a boat was damaged near Anacortes.
Repairing a kayak damaged in a guide training course with AKT.
Practicing assisted kayak rescues in the rough water of Deception Pass.
Turbulent water in Deception pass is great for kayak guide training.
Goofing around during a kayak guide training in the San Juan Islands.
Playing around during kayak guide training in the San Juan Islands.

Working as a sea kayak guide in the San Juan Islands can be one of the most rewarding summer jobs you could ask for. At Anacortes Kayak Tours we are working hard to raise the bar for how commercial kayak tours are operated. Not only is it important to us to provide a satisfying experience for our guests, we are also committed to providing an environment of fun and learning for our staff. Utilizing the highest quality equipment for both our guests, and for our guides, increases both the safety and comfort margins on the tours. Our guides paddle boats made by Nigel Dennis Kayaks, and Valley Kayaks, possibly the best all-around sea kayaks made today. If you are interested in refining skills you already have, or taking your knowledge to a new level, then these boats will help speed that process. We are looking for professional, mature, and fun people who are looking for outdoor jobs.

AKT has one of the more comprehensive guide training programs in the area. This is a professional position which we believe requires professional training. All guides who join our team are asked to attend one of our our multi-day guide training courses with Body Boat Blade International. These guys are world-class sea kayak instructors. Even our most experienced guides come away from these classes pleased with their new insights, and chastened that they knew less about sea kayaking than they thought they did (perhaps the most valuable aspect of the course).

We generally run a 2-day course which takes in early summer (late May or early June). We will likely spend both days of the course in the swift waters of Deception Pass. Under the expert instruction of Body Boat Blade, we’ll take advantage of the strong currents to learn how to make safe crossings, rescue in fast moving water, self rescue, group dynamics, and dealing with whatever comes up. These classes are exceptional opportunities to increase not only your personal skill levels, but also your ability to assess risk out on the water.

If you are relatively new to kayaking then you will need to be available for training in the early part of May in order to be practiced enough to take full advantage of the training course. If you are not ready for paddling in dynamic conditions then you may not be able to attend this class.

In addition to the formal course we have our own in-house training. This training takes place in a relatively informal setting, with dates set up to accommodate our own busy work schedule. No guide goes out on the water with guests until we feel comfortable with their abilities and guides are expected to set aside certain pre-season days for training. They are also expected to take it upon themselves to go out on the water as much as possible to refine the skills that they have been taught. We will happily loan our gear to motivated guides who want to practice.

Anacortes Kayak Tours has a long history of having a close-knit group of guides and staff, with newcomers being treated equally according to the skills and knowledge that they bring to the table. We are a team. We are not a recreational team, we are a professional team. Like any professional team, our members are expected to perform at their highest levels every day of the season. This is not the job to apply for if you want to cake-walk through the summer season. Highly self-motivated individuals tend to thrive here.


  • Strong leadership skills in outdoor activities;
  • A degree in natural sciences or outdoor recreation is a plus;
  • Working knowledge of the natural history of the area is very important, qualified guides are able to lead a detailed discussion of natural and cultural history;
  • Experience in multi-day kayaking, and traveling in a marine environment;
  • A sunny, professional personality is essential;
  • Strong work ethic (the job can be demanding);
  • Ability to lift 50+ pounds with no difficulty;
  • Clean driving record;
  • Current First-Aid and CPR, WA Food Handler’s Permit.

Required Equipment

Like any professional position, this job has some tools that qualified applicants will need to bring to the job. In order to be prepared to help yourselves and your guests in the event of an emergency, or accidental capsize, you will need these things. Our pro-purchase accounts are available to staff members to obtain these items as well as a long list of other goodies.

  • Immersion Wear (Dry Suits): You are going to get wet on this job. During our trainings we spend a lot of time getting in and out of the kayaks, and when you go out to practice/play on your own time you will want to be able to do the same. Also, on your tours you will find numerous occasions when you will be glad that you have this critical piece of gear. The water here is pretty cold, and if you aren’t prepared for it then you will not be able to effectively learn the skills that you need to lead trips.
         We understand that purchasing an expensive piece of equipment like this can be cost-prohibitive and so we have a program in place to purchase the dry suit for you and then you can reimburse us as you begin to earn money from the tours.
         After the season it is generally an easy matter to sell the dry suit and recoup your investment.
  • Knife: A blunt tipped rescue knife is a vital tool for any guide in paddlesports.
  • Compass and Charts: An inexpensive, handheld compass from REI is another vital part of any guide’s toolkit. If you are an outdoorsy person you should already have one. MapTech makes terrific charts of the area that we can get for you at wholesale prices (approximately $20).

We will provide all of the rest of your rescue kit and paddling gear.


Leading guided kayak tours in a safe and professional manner. All guides will also be asked to help out with logistics and other tasks. Maintaining and cleaning the equipment is a less glamorous, but vital, part of the job as well. Guides will sometimes be asked come in to help with things other than paddling a kayak. A more complete job description will come with an interview.

We are also looking for Office/Logistics staff as well. If you feel that you are qualified for both types of jobs then definitely let us know when you apply.

How to Apply

Applicants can send resumes via email to, or snail mail to 2009 Skyline Way, Anacortes WA 98221.

I just got back from a wonderful trip to Sucia with my husband and another couple. We had a great time with Jeremiah, our guide. We were amazed by the scenery, wildlife, and the general beauty of the San Juan Islands. Jeremiah was professional but down-to-earth, and we always felt completely safe because of his degree of knowledge and experience. The food was great—we’ve all changed the way we think about what’s possible for food options when we’re camping. :)

We really appreciate your commitment to customer service and safety, and we’ll be recommending your company for sure!

—Kristen Richards

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