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.
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 have hourly and daily rates, and two locations Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor.
"You are off the ferry and on your way.” [more...]
Schooners North offers sailing adventures in the San Juan Islands aboard our traditionally rigged vessel. Spike Africa is the last West Coast working top-mast schooner. Come set sail with us for the experience of a lifetime. [more...]
Renowned for professional quality productions and unmatchable island ambiance, Island Stage Left's goal is to provide the best theatre for everyone, regardless of their financial circumstance. Join us under the stars every summer for Shakespeare and indoors from September to May for contemporary and classical plays. Admission is free/donations are appreciated. [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...]
Funk & Junk Antiques is Friday Harbor's oldest antique shop, with complete estate services, licensed auctioneers and certified appraisals. Come in and browse one of the Northwest's best shops featuring unique, eclectic and one-of-a-kind treasures-since 1984. [more...]
Join us on a 2 ½ to 3 hour tour to view the orcas and other wildlife. We take only 6 people at a time aboard our beautiful catamaran, Peregrine. Capt. Jim not only informs our guests with his experience and knowledge, he will also entertain you! [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...]
The Toy Box is a wonderful toy store, whether you are looking for ducks that walk on tightropes, the world's farthest flying Frisbee, or educational toys that make learning fun. The store is full of unique, fun merchandise for every age. You can find a wide variety of puzzles, games, plush toys, art supplies, educational toys, dolls and much more.
Drop by and see Nancy on your next visit. [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...]
• A writer described the essence of sea kayaking perfectly when she said, "Kayaking is the closest you'll ever come to actually being a marine mammal."
• With 175-forested islands surrounded by crystal-green waters and snow-capped mountains, the San Juan Islands in the NW corner of Washington State are an idyllic sea-kayaking destination. [more...]
At San Juan Vineyard's beautiful 30-acre vineyard, winery, and historic tasting room, you can sip from a line-up of award-winning wines including estate-grown Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine. Enjoy the ambiance of the grounds at a barrel tasting or harvest festival.
Address: 3136 Roche Harbor Rd., Friday Harbor; (360) 378-9463
Hours: Daily, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. [more...]
Escape with TerraTrek on a two- to six-day bicycle and multi-sport vacation through the San Juan Islands. Only a short drive from Seattle or Vancouver B.C., the San Juan Archipelago is an ideal getaway because of our long days of sunshine and plenty of activities. Enjoy cycling along quiet two lane country roads lined with wildflowers that wind down to spectacular vistas of neighboring islands and snowcapped mountain ranges, hiking around lakes that lead down to waterfalls, and kayaking past pebble stone coves and rocky islets in orca whale territory! [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...]