Exploring San Juan Island
You’ll discover something new around every bend in the road on San Juan Island—an alpaca ranch, a sweeping valley dotted with cows or sheep, the terraces of a lavender farm, vineyards with a tasting room in a historic schoolhouse, deep forest giving way to shining sea, a pod of orca whales, and two iconic lighthouses. Variety, beauty, serenity . . . day after amazing day.
Caution: many of the 8,000 year-round residents of San Juan Island fell in love with it during their first visit, and the town of Friday Harbor was where it all began. (Often it was love at first sight, before they even got off the ferry.) In this historic, compact, and very walkable town, the hub of the island, you can easily fill a delightful day. Stroll through art galleries, bookstores, and antique shops, sample a bouquet of boutiques, stop for a cafe lunch or enjoy a world-class dinner overlooking the harbor, visit The Whale Museum and the San Juan Historical Museum, or meander through the marina.
In this visitor, family, and dog-friendly town, you’ll find many of the San Juans’ whale and kayaking tour headquarters, the Chamber of Commerce Visitors’ Center, historic Palace Theater (first-run movies on two screens!), a community theater (weekend plays and musical events), and a plethora of B&Bs and other lodgings.
No need for a car to see Friday Harbor. Everything is within walking distance of the ferry landing, including San Juan Transit shuttle buses to take you around the island, as well as bike, three-wheeled Scootcoupe, and moped rentals.
At historic Roche Harbor Resort on the north end of the island you’ll find several waterside eateries, a marina full of beautiful yachts, and local artisans’ booths in summer—showing off jewelry, wool, paintings, pottery, and more.
The resort’s centerpiece, the Hotel de Haro, has stood since 1886, when what was a sleepy Hudson Bay Company camp became a full-fledged lime works and company town—remnants of the giant lime kilns are still there. Near the entrance to Roche Harbor you’ll find the San Juan Islands Museum of Art Sculpture Park—more than 100 sculptures placed in an open, 19-acre, natural setting. You can ramble among the sculptures or follow the nearby nature trail that takes you into a native forest and close to Westcott Bay, home of the world-famous oysters.
Exploring the Island
When you travel San Juan Island beyond Friday Harbor, you’ll journey through miles of farmland and stretches of forest on your way to American Camp or English Camp, both part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park, or to the two waterfront state and county parks. You’re bound to hear about the 1859-1872 Pig War ”Crisis,” when Great Britain and the United States settled ownership of the islands through peaceful arbitration—the national park marks the sites of the U.S. and British encampments.
American Camp includes the island’s longest stretch of beach, South Beach, and a network of forested and open trails along the coast, Jakle’s Lagoon and Mt. Finlayson. Orcas occasionally swim past this beach, and sharp-eyed youngsters may spot agates among the beach’s colorful stones. Close to Friday Harbor lies Jackson Beach, a popular picnicking, wading, and dog-walking/swimming spot.
Lime Kiln Point State Park on the island’s west side is also known as Whale Watch Park for good reason—the three local orca pods are frequent summer visitors. This is the only park in the world dedicated to shore-based orca whale watching. A seasonal interpretative center offers information on orcas and a history of the lime kilns and the nearby lighthouse, and you have a choice of forest and shoreline hiking trails.
Other popular stops: Pelindaba Lavender Farm in the middle of the island, one of the largest in the country, for a taste of all things lavender in the aromatic store, housed in a historic island home—and host to the July lavender festival. Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, also mid-island, where more than 50 endearing alpacas roam the gentle pasture slopes. Stroll around the farm and browse the store for alpaca everything—socks, scarves, toys, and sweaters.
We offer riding lessons, scenic forrest trail and pony rides, full care horse boarding, hay and grain sales as well as an outdoor riding arena. Give us a call and head out to Horseshu Ranch for some fun! [more...]
Springtide paddlesports is delighted to provide first time paddleboarders with an introduction to the basic paddle strokes, balance techniques, and safety measures to enjoy the exciting sport of stand up paddleboarding, known collectively as SUP. Stand up paddleboarding is a fun and relaxing activity that naturally improves balance, strengthens core muscles, and burns calories. [more...]
EverGreen Escapes blends nature, adventure, wildlife and local epicurean indulgences into rich and meaningful travel experiences that showcase the best Cascadia has to offer to couples, families and wedding parties. Our naturalist-led small group half-, full- and multi-day escapes aboard luxurious Mercedes vans and SUVs promise to inspire, educate and satisfy explorers from around the planet. [more...]
A self-guided tour of 12 working studios with over 31 participants. We are a group of mutually supportive San Juan Island artists who open up our personal studio spaces, often including artistic gardens, to the public for an entire weekend at the end of spring each year. This free community event celebrates the way we work and live. In addition to displaying our work, including sculpture, jewelry, pottery, printmaking, glass, fiber and fine art, we share insights into how our art is created and what inspires and motivates us in our chosen media. [more...]
Since 1987, Adventure Associates has specialized in all-women and coed whale watching paddles and sea kayaking trips. Our expert naturalists share on- and off-water secrets of these magical island communities. Small tour groups (5-12) enjoy great cuisine, a relaxed pace and camaraderie around the campfire. Enjoy three-day whale watch paddles, six-day sea kayak expeditions and six-day multi-sport (hike, bike & sea kayak) adventures for women. Camping, kayak equipment and all meals included. No experience needed. [more...]
San Juan Community Theatre, located on San Juan Island in Friday Harbor, is a state-of-the-art facility far exceeding expectations of what might be found on a remote island. The Theatre offers a broad variety of high-quality, locally-produced events, as well as performances by renowned touring music, theatre and dance companies. The Theatre is active year-round. See the schedule of events on our web site for details on current and upcoming shows. [more...]
Featuring works by a handpicked selection of regional fine artists tastefully displayed in a comfortable naturally lit space. Conveniently located on A Street above the Friday Harbor ferry parking lot. [more...]
Founded in 1964, the San Juan Island Yacht Club's membership has grown to over 300 active boaters. Our clubhouse is a full service facility with large meeting room, bar and kitchen facilities. The San Juan Island Yacht Club is a cruising club. Our members travel as far north as Glacier Bay and south to the Gulf of California. We sponsor 10 to 12 local cruises each year along with major racing events, including the Shaw Island Classic. Additionally, sailors are invited to participate in the One Design race series. [more...]
Whale watching and wildlife tours. Sea kayaking tours and custom adventure tours from Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. Tours depart from the best locations in the San Juan Islands. See killer whales, seals, eagles and porpoise. Join our expert staff for a unique adventure. [more...]
Conveniently located in the new Quarryman Hall building in Roche Harbor Resort, the Afterglow Spa is the perfect complement to your experience on San Juan Island. Begin your vacation with a relaxing massage, or indulge in one of our signature body treatments, hydrotherapy, steam room, facials, manicures and pedicures. [more...]
Watch local marine life up close at the Spring St. Landing Aquarium, a 400-gallon saltwater tank displaying a variety of creatures such as sea cucumber, tube worms, singing scallops, nudibranch, sea stars, sea urchins and anemones. A great free attraction for kids. [more...]
Unique small ship cruises in the San Juan Islands, up the southern inside passage of British Columbia, and in SE Alaska aboard the 1932 historic wooden vessel, MV Catalyst. Hiking, kayaking, wildlife viewing. Historic 1924 historic motor yacht, MV Westward, available for day trips, special events, custom cruises, weddings, in the San Juan Islands and British Columbia.
Adventure awaits you! Join Western Prince Whale Watching on an intimate sized tour (limited to 32 passengers on the Western Prince II and 15 passengers on the Western Explorer) as we explore protected waters and discover the islands' abundant wildlife and spectacular beauty. [more...]
A port for all seasons! Unsurpassed natural beauty pervades this privileged haven, whatever the season. Visitors can ferry, boat, sail or fly a seaplane into the Port of Friday Harbor's Marina. Visitors can also fly into the Port of Friday Harbor's airport. [more...]