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. Take a walking tour of Friday Harbor, which includes many of the towns 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.
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.
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
Bicycle Adventures, Inc is one of North America's premier bicycling and adventure vacation companies, offering fully supported cycling and multi-sport tours in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Tours feature deluxe lodging and dining, equipment, luggage service, full van support and expert World Outfitters and Guides Association certified tour leaders. [more...]
We are 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...]
Springtide paddlesports is delighted to provide first time paddleboarders with an introduction to the basic paddle strokes, balance techniques, and safety measures to enjoy the exciting sport of stand up paddleboarding, known collectively as SUP. Stand up paddleboarding is a fun and relaxing activity that naturally improves balance, strengthens core muscles, and burns calories. [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...]
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 offer hourly and daily rates.
"You are off the ferry and on your way!” [more...]
Visit Paula's studio where she turns porcelain clay on the potters wheel into unique and functional vessels for you table. Established in 1993, the studio offers visitors the opportunity to see a working studio and the many aspects of pottery making. Browse the showroom and view works in progress. Call for hours. [more...]
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...]
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...]
Founded in 1964, the San Juan Island Yacht Club's membership has grown to over 300 active boaters. Our clubhouse is a full service facility with large meeting room, bar and kitchen facilities. The San Juan Island Yacht Club is a cruising club. Our members travel as far north as Glacier Bay and south to the Gulf of California. We sponsor 10 to 12 local cruises each year along with major racing events, including the Shaw Island Classic. Additionally, sailors are invited to participate in the One Design race series. [more...]