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 is where it all began. Historic and just one square mile in size, Friday Harbor is the very walkable hub of San Juan Island, the most populated of the San Juans. Browse art galleries, bookstores and antique shops. Sample a bouquet of boutiques, stop for a cafe lunch or enjoy a fresh seafood dinner overlooking the harbor. Visit The Whale Museum and the San Juan Historical Museum, or meander through the marina. Take a walking tour of Friday Harbor, which includes many of the town’s important sites.
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), the San Juan Community Theatre for 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. From Friday Harbor you can also catch an inter-island ferry to Lopez, Orcas and Shaw Islands.
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. Take a cycling or driving tour of the north side of the island.
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 Sculpture Park—more than 125 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 Shellfish Company, home of the world-famous oysters. You can also visit the Westcott Bay Cider and San Juan Island Distillery, near Roche Harbor.
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. Take a cycling or driving tour of the south and west areas of San Juan Island.
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.
Voted 'Best Tour Company on the West Coast' by Sea Kayaker Magazine for 2014, Crystal Seas offers premier kayaking adventures along the west-side of San Juan Island from late April to early October. Join us for our 20th season on a three-hour, sunset, full-day or multi-day kayak tour to experience the thrill of a lifetime! Crystal Seas specializes in small groups and custom/family tours. We offer free transportation from downtown Friday Harbor to our launch site and provide all of the gear you will need. Singles, couples, families and groups are welcome. [more...]
Yvonne’s work space is a multi media island studio located four miles from the town of Friday Harbor on a beautiful lakeside setting. Come visit to watch and learn about her art glass panels, miniature sculptures (jewelry), and encaustic (beeswax) paintings. Artwork is available for sale and custom commissions always welcome. By appointment or call for studio hours. [more...]
New Day Garden is a small island flower farm growing dahlias, tulips, dutch iris, sunflowers and other specialty cut flowers. We sell fresh bouquets daily at our roadside stand and San Juan Island Farmers' Market throughout the season from April through October. Special orders are always welcome from single bouquets or bunches to weddings or special events. [more...]
Half & Full Day Sails, Whale Watching & Nature Sails, Sunset Sails, Private Charters and Schooner Adventures on the Salish Sea and beyond! Step aboard with San Juan Classic Day Sailing and take your opportunity to let go of the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and and connect with the the natural rhythm of the sea, traditional maritime heritage and our pristine marine environment. We offer a variety of sailing charter opportunities, giving you the chance to experience the joy of being on your own classic yachting adventure in the Islands! [more...]
San Juan Island Distillery is a small artisan distillery producing award-winning ciders and spirits from local ingredients in a beautiful Adrian copper still from Germany. Westcott Bay Cider, an established and prize-winning cider works, is also housed in the distillery, and the cider is used to make gins and apple brandy.
Address: 12 Anderson Lane, Roche Harbor; (360) 378-2606
Hours: Fri. & Sat., Noon–4:00 p.m. [more...]
Half & Full Day Sails, Whale Watching & Nature Sails, Sunset Sails, Private Charters and Schooner Adventures on the Salish Sea and beyond! Step aboard with San Juan Classic Day Sailing and take your opportunity to let go of the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and and connect with the the natural rhythm of the sea, traditional maritime heritage and our pristine marine environment. [more...]
See the largest herd of alpacas in the San Juans on this 70-acre working farm. Alpacas grow one of the world's softest, most luxurious fibers, and are irresistibly cute. Enjoy a self-guided stroll around the grounds or shop the Country Store for fine alpaca clothing and gifts. Call ahead for guided tours.
Address: 3501 West Valley Rd.; (360) 378-6125
Hours: 10:00–5:00 daily, Apr.–Dec.; 11:00–4:00 daily, Jan.–Mar. [more...]
The Pacific Northwest Golf Association rates our golf course as the second best nine-hole course in the state. The Seattle Times calls it "the best golf in the San Juans." The layout has two sets of tees for the front and back nines allowing for an 18-hole golfing experience. The facility also offers a driving range, practice greens, and hand and power carts. For those who prefer tennis, the club has two quality courts available for play seven days a week. [more...]
Welcome to Landscape Cycles, where all of your travel plans are taken care with style, sensibility, and comfort in mind. We're a one-stop shop for your travel and exploration needs. Experience the unique San Juan Island landscape by land and sea. We offer Hobie pedal-drive kayaks allowing your comfort and enjoyment of the coastline. Our bicycles are lightweight and zippy offering effortless speed, handling and easy climbing. [more...]
"Discovery Sea Kayaks, known by reputation, selected for adventure!" Kayak Tours and Bike Rentals. Discovery Sea Kayaks was awarded "Best Outfitter on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2008 and 2009. We offer truly unique, small-group, year-round sea kayaking adventures in the San Juan Islands. [more...]
WaterWorks Gallery is San Juan Island’s première gallery for contemporary artwork, established in 1985 with the concept of showcasing artists based in the San Juan Islands and the Pacific Northwest. The work of the gallery’s painters and sculptors reflect the unique Northwest experience. Artists and their visions evolve and change, stimulated by the changing times we live in. Art jewelry is a new addition to the gallery. Monthly show schedule posted online. Seasonally adjusted hours. [more...]
We are a fine art galley that offers a venue for the native people of the Northwest Coast, the Inuit and Alaskan indigenous artists. We feature master carvers in wood, stone and bone. Our selection of silver, argillite basketry, paintings and ivory will enhance your island experience. [more...]
Immerse yourself in more than 40 documentaries, with three days of award-winning films to entertain, inspire and enlighten us about the the people, cultures and environment of the Pacific Rim. [more...]
Men & women's new and gently used clothing including designer labels. We carry formal and casual wear, business suites, jewelry, belts, purses, shoes, boots and so much more! We are open 7 days a week Monday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. [more...]
The San Juan Islands Artists' Studio tour is a free, self-guided tour of 13 working studios, including 39 participants all around the island. The artists 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. [more...]