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First Time Tips & Tricks For Visiting The San Juan Islands

If this is your first trip to the San Juan Islands, brush up on some valuable hints that will make all the difference! The shorter your stay in the Islands, the more important it is to plan ahead. Booking activities, dining, and lodging  in advance will help your trip run smoothly. Here's your guide to your first getaway to the scenic gateway!

There are 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County, however the four ferry served Islands; San Juan Island (with the county seat Friday Harbor), Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island are the most populous and host the vast majority of lodging and dining options and tourism activities. 

Discover the beauty, history and culture of the islands.

Whether you ride a Washington State Ferry from Anacortes (you can now make a reservation at, fly from Seattle or SeaTac Intl. Airport on a Kenmore Air seaplane or wheeled-plane or regional flight, rent a car or take an airporter shuttle from SeaTac, or hop on the seasonal San Juan Clipper (closed for 2020) from Seattle's waterfront, arriving at the ferry terminal or boarding your plane marks the beginning of your San Juan Islands vacation.

Here’s a delightful dilemma: what will you do first on your visit to the San Juan Islands? Go whale watching? Head out on a kayak trip, cycle around Lopez, or climb Mount Constitution on Orcas? Every island offers you an abundance of choices—luckily, you can’t go wrong.

Each of the islands offers you something different in terms of landscape, dining and amusement, but they all promise high quality accommodations. Private cabins overlooking the water, hotels in the middle of town, cozy B&Bs tucked away in pastoral loveliness, it's all here, offering you different atmospheres and opportunities to enjoy your island getaway. Our lodging listings will help you get one step closer to your vacation.  

NEED HELP? Give us a call!

Call the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm PST at 1-888-468-3701 or email us at

Request a printed brochure and map here. (or download the  San Juan Islands Map & Brochure)

Contact Us:
1-888-468-3701 | (360) 378-9551
P.O. Box 1330, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
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