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), 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. 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 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. 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.
Pelindaba Lavender Farm, spread over 25 beautiful acres with lake and Olympic Mountain views, has become one of the San Juans' most popular destinations. More than 240 lavender-based, botanical, culinary, personal care, therapeutic, household and pet care products are handcrafted and sold on-site or in their Friday Harbor store year round. [more...]
Housed in an 1892 Odd Fellows Hall overlooking Friday Harbor, The Whale Museum is the local center for Salish Sea stewardship and research since 1979. Many early notable events took place at the Hall, including the year-long murder trial of Richard Straub, the only person ever executed in San Juan County. The courthouse also hosted the fiery orator, Billy Sunday, a proponent of prohibition; the day after his speech, the county council approved prohibition for San Juan County, previous to national passage of the 21st Amendment. Now you can see a young orca skeleton, watch free videos, and find treasures in the museum gift shop. Upstairs, visit the Gallery of Whales and learn about how you can Adopt an Orca to support the 80 Southern Resident orca whales that call Northwest waters home. [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...]
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...]
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...]
Westcott Bay Shellfish Company is a sea farm located in the renowned waters of Westcott Bay on San Juan Island. On our tidelands we grow Pacific oysters utilizing a rack-and-bag system, Manila clams in netted clam beds, and Mediterranean mussels in lantern nets suspended off our extensive dock and floats. We offer retail sales of our harvested shellfish, and picnic tables for self-shucking. The best time to view farming activity is during low tides, and because the majority of our farm operations take place on our beaches, we don’t allow public clam-digging or oyster picking. [more...]
We gladly welcome visitors to shop at the San Juan Island Food Co-op where we vote with our forks in order to support local food production & consumption, reduce trucking & warehousing, and promote healthful nutrition by sourcing responsibly, sustainable & organically produced foods.
50% of our grocery offerings are local & regional, including pastured meats & poultry, wild-harvested fish, farm fresh produce, eggs, cheese, & milk products, and much more than we can list here! [more...]
Join a "Bird Quest" in the San Juan Islands today!
Mark Lewis, author of "Birding in the San Juan Islands," published 1987, leads custom birding trips for all levels of bird watchers. Mark has lived in the San Juans for 30 years, conducting research, teaching natural history, and guiding sea kayak tours for Sea Quest Kayak Tours. [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...]
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. [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...]
Established in 1980, San Juan Kayak Expeditions is the original sea kayaking company in the San Juan Islands! Your kayak adventure begins at our conveniently located Sea Kayak Center kiosk directly across from the ferry dock in Friday Harbor. We offer fun outings for all tastes and budgets such as our guided Whales Ho! Full Day tour and our Griffin Bay Full Day, Half Day or Sunset tours! [more...]
The SJC Fairground is a multi-use event center with indoor rental facilities, group camping, RV sites and year round activities. The annual Fair in August draws thousands of visitors and is a sweet, small town county fair with an arts festival feel and major fun for the whole family! The 14-acre fairground rental facilities include a 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall for large events; 1,800-square-foot building for receptions, parties, meetings, concerts, etc.; seven RV sites with full hookup and group camping areas. [more...]
Voted #1 Eco-Adventure in Western Washington 2010-2012-2013 by Evening Magazine and King5 News! Join us on a sea kayaking adventure to the most rewarding destinations in the San Juan Islands. We offer tours departing from San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Anacortes. We offer Half Day, Full Day, and Overnight sea kayaking expeditions. Anacortes Kayak Tours prides itself on being a family friendly kayak company, with dedicated family tours departing Deception Pass State Park. [more...]
Enjoy the waterfront walk down to the Port of Friday Harbor, appreciating the Coast Salish "Portals of Welcome" house posts and the many visiting boats from around the world. The carved cedar piece is titled "Interaction" and was created by Salish Coast artist Susan Point as a symbol of welcome and an acknowledgement of the Native presence in the San Juan Islands. [more...]