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.
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...]
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...]
Gallery 9 has local arts and gifts from the Northwest Islands. Handmade art can be found in this stunning & chic downtown gallery. From art cards, elegant yoga and art wear, furniture, fiber art, nature photography to painting, jewelry, ceramics, glass, encaustics and sculpture. Almost 35 artists now are represented here! On the way up to The Whale Museum, stop on in and see our changing display of fine contemporary art. Or find us at our online store and shop for art gifts from our website at home to feather your nest, body or to give. [more...]
Whether you are looking for a premier whale watch tour, quality family adventure, or a fun-filled fishing excursion, Legacy Charters is here to make it happen. Offering whale watching and fishing charters for groups of six or less assures the most authentic and personalized charters available. [more...]
Popeye the harbor seal has been a frequent visitor to Friday Harbor since 1995. In 2005, the Port of Friday Harbor named her the port's official seal, and commissioned a granite sculpture of her, which stands in Fairweather Park, near the main marina dock entrance. [more...]
Open daily year-round, the Pelindaba Lavender Friday Harbor Product Gallery provides a location close to the ferry landing for visitors who might not be able to visit the farm for one reason or another, but who still want a taste of our handcrafted lavender products (literally and figuratively). [more...]
Adventure Attractions Northwest offers sea kayaking, whale watching, flight seeing, bicycle tours, land tours and much more.
We are continually adding more exciting things to do. Put our website on your 'favorites' so that next weekend's adventure is just a click away.
Adventure Attractions North West will connect you to the best, most experienced outfitters in the Northwest, which includes San Juan Islands and Seattle. Operators are pre-qualified so that you can start having fun now. Take the trip you have always wanted. Reserve your adventure now! [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...]
Friday Harbor Marine is in Spring Street Landing, on the waterfront in Friday Harbor. Friday Harbor Marine offers a variety of activities to get visitors out onto the water. Rent family-safe Hobie pedal kayaks, Duffy electric party boats, Boston Whalers with outboards, or Stabi Craft runabouts. Explore the marina, Brown Island, and the protected harbor from the water, or take a short ride to Turn Island State Park for a hike and a picnic, or go fishing or crabbing. Friday Harbor Marine also provides yacht brokerage and marine repair services at our slips on the Fuel Pier. [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 have hourly and daily rates, and two locations Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor.
"You are off the ferry and on your way.” [more...]
We offer guided or unguided kayak trips, starting at 2 hours, from downtown Friday Harbor to the inner harbor, Brown Island, or to beautiful Turn Island State Park, where you can hike the trails, enjoy a beach picnic, and explore the tide pools. Our fleet of Hobie kayaks includes singles, tandems and trimarans, and can be paddled, pedaled, sailed or even driven by an electric motor. The unique and versatile Hobie kayaks are extremely stable, and suitable for pros or beginners of any age. [more...]
A professional packing, shipping and receiving store offering services for FedEx, UPS and USPS. Private mail boxes available.
Ship your luggage through us and avoid the hassle of carrying excess luggage through the airports. [more...]
The San Juan Islands Museum of Art provides quarterly exhibits that reflect the best of the visual arts from the northwestern U.S. and southwestern Canada. The IMA's mission is to connect people with art that inspires, challenges, and enlightens. [more...]
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...]