Island Experience

San Juan Islands Scenic Byway Tour (South & West)

Driftwood beaches, a lighthouse, and a lavender farm make this driving or bicycling tour a stunning route

Jackson Beach

Pear Point Rd., Friday Harbor ; (360) 378-2688

Jackson Beach is a long, sandy beach just two miles from downtown Friday Harbor - 5 minutes by car, or a 20-minute walk. Take a stroll among the driftwood, enjoy a picnic, or make a bonfire and watch the sunset. A boat launch and small dock make it an easy place to get a small boat in the water.  

To get to Jackson Beach from downtown Friday Harbor though a Spring Street and take a left onto Argyle Street ( the main three way intersection in town ) and follow it up and down a hill past the fairgrounds. Take a left onto Pear Point Road and follow it for roughly one half mile... you will see Jackson Beach and Peninsula on your right hand side. If you don't turn off to Jackson Beach you can continue on the scenic drive around Pear Point which will put you back in Friday Harbor.

British and American troops jointly occupied San Juan Island from 1859 to 1871 in The Pig War standoff, while the two nations argued over ownership of the islands. U.S. Army troops lived at American Camp at the south end of the island. Today, this day-use park includes prairie, forest and South Beach, the longest beach on the island.

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

45 Hawthorne Lane, Friday Harbor ; (866) 819-1911

Pelindaba Lavender Farm, spread over 25 beautiful acres with lake and Olympic Mountain views, has become one of the San Juans' most popular visitor destinations. More than 200 lavender-based, botanical, culinary, personal care, therapeutic, household and pet care products are handcrafted and sold on-site, as well as at the Pelindaba Lavender Friday Harbor Product Gallery.

Stroll through the organically-certified fields (be sure to bring your camera) and visit the nursery, on-site essential oil distillery, educational exhibits and Gatehouse Farm Store. Picnic on the lawns or in the fields and enjoy lavender-based snacks and refreshments during the summer. The Annual San Juan Island Lavender Festival is held at the Farm the 3rd weekend in July.

Lime Kiln Point State Park

1567 West Side Rd., Friday Harbor ; (360) 378-2044

Also known as Whale Watch Park, Lime Kiln Point State Park is a 36-acre day-use park with an iconic lighthouse set on the west side of San Juan Island. The park is considered one of the best places in the world to view whales from land. The shoreline viewpoint is about a 300-yard walk from the parking lot, restrooms, and seasonal interpretive center. Orca whales are common in the waters off Lime Kiln.

San Juan County Park

West Side Rd., San Juan Island ; (360) 378-8420

On the island’s west side, about 10 miles from Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor, you’ll find the popular 12-acre San Juan County Park, where you can camp on the coast of Haro Strait and enjoy views of the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island. Find your own rocky bluff, explore the gravel beaches and tide pools, watch for whales, picnic and play in the meadow or the short cliffside trails, or launch your kayak in the waters of Smallpox Bay, where First Peoples waded to cool their fevers. (More recently, Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock starred in scenes shot here for the film Practical Magic.) There are twenty campsites, with amenities including water, flush toilets, a small picnic shelter, picnic tables, a beach, and boat launch. Reservations are strongly recommended from May to September.