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.

Gateway to the San Juan Islands

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.

Roche Harbor

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.

 

Friday Harbor
San Juan Community Theatre See all information about this member
100 Second St.
Friday Harbor
(360) 378-3210
San Juan Community Theatre - Outside of Bldg.

San Juan Community Theatre 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, and is active year-round. See the schedule of events on our web site for details on current and upcoming shows.

Location: 100 Second St.; (360) 378-3210
Hours: visit www.sjctheatre.org for schedule and showtimes [more...]

San Juan Island
Westcott Bay Shellfish Co.See all information about this member
904 Westcott Drive
Friday Harbor
(360) 378-2489
Westcott Bay Shellfish Co. - Oysters in Bulk

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...]

San Juan Island
Bird Quest ToursSee all information about this member
2 Spring St.
Friday Harbor
(360) 378-5767
888-589-4253
Bird Quest Tours - Auklet

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...]

Friday Harbor
Island BicyclesSee all information about this member
380 Argyle Ave.
Friday Harbor
(360) 378-4941
Island Bicycles - View - Bicycling San Juan Island

Full service bicycle shop with sales, repairs and rentals and friendly advice. Open every day May through September. Call or check our website for off-season hours. [more...]

Friday Harbor
WaterWorks Gallery See all information about this member
315 Argyle
Friday Harbor
(360) 378-3060
Waterworks Gallery, Friday Harbor, Art Scene, Artists

WaterWorks Gallery is San Juan Island’s première gallery for contemporary artwork, established in 1985 with the concept of showcasing artists based in the San Juan Islands and the Pacific Northwest. The work of the gallery’s painters and sculptors reflect the unique Northwest experience.

Location: 315 Argyle St., Friday Harbor; (360) 378-3060
Hours: call for seasonal hours [more...]

Friday Harbor
Portals of Welcome - Totem Poles & Harbor View

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 piece is titled "Interaction" and was created by Salish Coast artist Susan Point, a member of the Musqueum Tribe, as a symbol of welcome and an acknowledgement of the Native presence in the San Juan Islands. "Interaction" is also dedicated to welcoming all to work together in the stewardship of our precious marine ecosystem.

Location: Friday Harbor waterfront, near the Port offices [more...]

Friday Harbor
Legacy Charter FishingSee all information about this member
#14 Cannery Landing
Friday Harbor
360-378-3744
Fishing San Juan Island

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...]

San Juan Island
San Juan Island Artists' Studio TourSee all information about this member
San Juan Island
(360) 378-5594
Art, Event, Studio Tour San Juan Island

The San Juan Islands Artists' Studio tour is a free, self-guided tour of 13 working studios, including 39 participants all around the island. The artists are a group of mutually supportive San Juan Island artists who open up our personal studio spaces, often including artistic gardens, to the public for an entire weekend each spring.

Location: various studios on San Juan Island
Visit www.sanjuanislandartists.com for dates and times. [more...]

Friday Harbor
Susie's Mopeds & Car RentalsSee all information about this member
125 Nichols
Friday Harbor
(800) 532-0087
(360) 378-5244
Susie's Moped & Car Rentals, Transportation, San Juan Island, Friday Harbor

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...]

Friday Harbor
San Juan Safaris LLC Whale Watching & Wildlife ToursSee all information about this member
2 Spring Street Landing #6
Friday Harbor
(800) 450-6858
(360) 378-1323
San Juan Island whale watching with San Juan Safaris

Located steps from the Friday Harbor ferry terminal, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching & Wildlife Tours has an excellent reputation for respectful wildlife viewing. On the water since 1995, this company is known for providing high-quality, small-group size whale watching & wildlife tours. [more...]

San Juan Island
Friday Harbor Cruises Wildlife ToursSee all information about this member
1 Spring Street Landing
Friday Harbor
360-317-4321
Friday Harbor Cruises - Seals on Rocks

Experience the islands with a cruise on the “Bee”!  A proper little yacht, the Bee is a Grand Banks 32 and is one of the most comfortable boats in the harbor. A sunny flying bridge or a heated cabin offer all weather comfort as we see wildlife in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Captain Greg’s stories of the colorful history of soldiers, smugglers, and the wildlife in this corner of the world will keep you entertained and informed. Try a sunset cruise or our “Round the Rock” day trip that circles the island with a lunch stop at Roche Harbor. [more...]

San Juan Island
San Juan Islands Sculpture ParkSee all information about this member
Roche Harbor Road at Roche Harbor entrance
Roche Harbor
(360) 370-0035
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park - Aerion by Don Moss

The San Juan Islands Sculpture Park is 20 acres of outdoor art. This idyllic setting features more than 100 unique sculptures in a variety of media, from wood and metal, to glass and stone. Artists range from well known to unknown, and there are new additions every year. A $5 per adult donation is requested. Kids and dogs are free.

Location: Roche Harbor Road at Roche Harbor entrance; (360) 370-0035
Hours: open all year round, dawn to dusk [more...]

Friday Harbor
Legacy Charters Whale WatchingSee all information about this member
#14 Cannery Landing
Friday Harbor
360-378-3744
Whale Watching Boating San Juan Island

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...]

San Juan Island
Western Washington
EverGreen EscapesSee all information about this member
801 S. Fidalgo St., #110
Seattle
(866) 203-7603
(206) 650-5795
EverGreen Escapes, Kayaking, Whale Watching, Hiking Tours

EverGreen Escapes blends nature, adventure, wildlife and local epicurean indulgences into rich and meaningful travel experiences that showcase the best Cascadia has to offer to couples, families and wedding parties. Our naturalist-led small group half-, full- and multi-day escapes aboard luxurious Mercedes vans and SUVs promise to inspire, educate and satisfy explorers from around the planet. [more...]

Friday Harbor
Western Prince Whale Watching San Juan IslandSee all information about this member
1 Spring Street
Friday Harbor
(800) 757-6722
(360) 378-5315
San Juan Islands Whale Watching, Friday Harbor, Washington

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...]

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