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.
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.
From your first step over our threshold into our earthy, sensual environment, you will feel comfortable exactly as you are. Like our island home, our warm, accessible ambiance invites visitors to reconnect with the beauty and wisdom within. [more...]
From their studio overlooking Friday Harbor, designer goldsmiths Dan and Diane Levin enjoy an enthusiastic international following. The exquisitely detailed designs they create stand out among the classics of fine jewelry design the world over.
Levin original designs are copyrighted and each individual creation receives the Levin signature, hand-engraved by the artist. [more...]
Explore San Juan Island at your leisure with a moped, scoot-car, or car from Susie's Mopeds, an island tradition since 1986. Let our professional and friendly staff help plan your island adventure and get you on your way. Pack your lunches and enjoy spectacular scenery of a full-day tour or head off to a specific location like the Whale Watch Park. We offer hourly and daily rates.
"You are off the ferry and on your way!” [more...]
This historic sea farm is located in the renowned waters of Westcott Bay near Roche Harbor, and grows Pacific oysters utilizing a rack-and-bag system, Manila clams in netted clam beds, and Mediterranean mussels in lantern nets suspended off the extensive dock and floats. You can buy, shuck and enjoy shellfish onsite, although there is no public clam-digging or oyster picking.
Address: 904 Westcott Dr. off Roche Harbor Rd.; (360) 378-2489
Hours: 11:00–5:00 from early May until just after Labor Day [more...]
Bike Rentals in the heart of downtown Friday Harbor. Easy and convenient location from the ferry. Explore the island at your own pace. Travel along country roads to beautiful National Parks and Lime Kiln State Park. Pack a picnic and pedal to the west side of San Juan to enjoy sunshine, views of the Olympic Mountains and watch for passing whales from shore. Rent for one day or several days. [more...]
Island Studios is an art gallery representing exclusively island artists and craftspersons. This unique gallery offers a large collection of paintings, photographs, prints, jewelry, glasswork, sculptures, textiles, pottery, books and music. [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.
All Aboard Sailing offers a unique adventure sailing a traditional wood boat through the San Juan islands. The 1956 42' pilot house sloop of yellow cedar on steam bent oak sails spring, summer, fall and winter with USCG licensed Captain David Howitt. [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...]
The San Juan Island Farmers' Market is your source for beautiful and bountiful island produce, fine crafts, and delicious prepared foods. You can find the market at the historic Brickworks building, just two blocks from the ferry landing.
Address: 150 Nichols St., Friday Harbor
Hours: 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., Saturdays, Apr.–Oct.; twice a month in Nov., Dec.; first Saturdays, Jan.–Mar.; 10:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., July 4 to Labor Day. [more...]
Join a "Kayak Quest for Whales” today! Our specialty is finding orca whales while kayaking. Sea Quest was selected by National Geographic in their “10 Best Trips in the World for 2011” and USA Today picked us for their “World's Top 10 Adventure Bargains.” Visit our website now to watch fantastic videos made for National Geographic TV and ABC News. [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...]
Join owner Captain Hobbes aboard "Natsilane" for an intimate whale & wildlife tour of a lifetime. Limited to only 6 passengers, come discover the unique ecosystems of the Salish Sea in a comfortable and stable boat with a heated cabin, indoor & outdoor seating, and a restroom. Tours depart one or two times daily depending on the season. [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...]