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.
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...]
In addition to educating local students, Skagit Valley College/San Juan Center hosts a variety of all-inclusive Road Scholar educational travel programs throughout the region to suit every taste. Road Scholar is the not-for-profit leader in educational travel since 1975, offering more than 7,000 educational tours in all 50 states and over 150 countries. Skagit Valley College has been hosting Road Scholar programs from our San Juan Center campus for over twenty years. [more...]
The Whale Plane Package: See Wild Whales! Your tour starts from Lake Union in Seattle via seaplane and lands at the docks in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. You will then take a three-hour Whale Watch and Wildlife Tour by boat. After the tour you will fly back to Seattle in time for dinner.
The boat is a new, fast 55-foot vessel with a walk-around deck and windowed cabin. There is time prior to and after the tour to shop, view galleries, see the sights and enjoy lunch. $325 per adult. $299 per child. April to October. Includes round-trip flight and Whale Watching Tour. [more...]
Built in 1921 as Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Company, the restored Brickworks is a cultural center in Friday Harbor, with an outdoor plaza for events. Visit on a Saturday, and you’ll find fresh local goods and produce at the San Juan Island Farmers’ Market. On Fridays in the summertime, local artists sell their creations at the Friday Harbor Art Market. [more...]
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...]
San Juan Community Theatre is a state-of-the-art facility offering a broad variety of high-quality, locally-produced events year-round, as well as performances by renowned touring music, theater and dance companies. The Theatre includes the 285-seat Whittier Theatre and a more intimate “black box” Gubelman Theatre, which seat about 70. [more...]
San Juan Wireless carries: i Phones, Blackberry phones, HTC phones, LG phones, Motorola phones & Samsung phones. Perhaps you have thought about a cell phone, but are a bit hesitant about using one. Joy and Denny can bring you into the “Smart Phone” era. It will be easy. Their store also carries cell phone accessories, i Pad accessories and TV accessories. They service all cell phones and products that they sell.
If you are a visitor, they will assist you with your cell phone problem for a small fee. [more...]
Voted 'Best Tour Company on the West Coast' by Sea Kayaker Magazine for 2013, 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...]
Healing from Within - Integrative Approaches to Healing and Health of Body, Mind and Spirit. With over 30 years of extensive experience in the Western and Eastern healing arts, Kira, a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Counselor offers healing through Integrated Massage Treatments (Deep Tissue, Injury Treatment, Acupressure, Swedish Massage, Energy Balancing and Cranio-Sacral Therapy). [more...]
Restored in 2013, the Brickworks is now a center for cultural life in Friday Harbor, with a large hall and outdoor plaza for concerts and community gatherings. Visit on a Saturday, and you’ll find fresh local produce at then San Juan Island Farmers’ Market. On Fridays in the summertime, local artists sell their creations at the Friday Harbor Art Market. [more...]
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...]
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...]
Housed in an 1892 Odd Fellows Hall overlooking Friday Harbor, The Whale Museum is the local center for Salish Sea stewardship and research. See a young orca skeleton, watch free videos, and find treasures in the gift shop. Upstairs, visit the Gallery of Whales and learn about how you can Adopt an Orca to support the 80-plus Southern Resident whales that call Northwest waters home. [more...]
Friday Harbor welcomes a new Friday evening experience, the Friday Harbor Art Market, just steps from the ferry landing, on Fridays from 3:00 - 7:00 p.m., June 21 - September 20 at the Brickworks Plaza on Sunshine Alley. Approximately 20 local artists will feature a variety of creations for sale -- pottery, jewelry, photographs, clothing, sculpture, textiles, paintings, soaps, woodwork, and more -- plus local musicians will present live music throughout the evening. [more...]
Enjoy a year-round, daily, orca/killer whale & wildlife adventure of a lifetime out of Friday Harbor. I offer an intimate and personalized tour with only 6 passengers on a 30', comfortable and stable boat with a heated cabin, indoor & outdoor seating, and a restroom. Other trips available include Jones Island Hiking & Picnic Trips, Lighthouse Tours, and Private Sunset Cruises. Tours depart one to three times daily, depending on the season. [more...]