Tips for making ferry reservations

Getting here is half the fun aboard a Washington State Ferry and reservations are available at to help make trip planning easier and more predictable.

Here are some tips for making your ferry travel stress free:

  • We recommend making a reservation, especially from May through September and for holiday weekends. For the best travel times, choose when you'll be traveling  – November or December.  
  • You'll need to make 2 reservations -- one coming to the islands (west bound) and one leaving the islands (east bound) if you're visiting Orcas or San Juan islands. The system will prompt you to make a round-trip reservation. (Lopez and Shaw islands only have west-bound reservations.)
  • If you can’t get a reservation on your desired day or sailing, no worries, reservations are released in 3 tiers to accommodate long and short-term planning by visitors and residents. Walk-ons don't need a reservation; see below.
  • The first 30% are released 2 months before the start of each of the four seasonal sailing schedules, for all sailings during that season, meaning that these reservations may be available up to 5 months in advance.  Find more detailed info here.
  • The second 30% are released 2 weeks prior to the specific sailing date.
  • The third 30% are released 2 days prior to the specific sailing date.
  • Each tier release of space opens online and by phone at 7:00 a.m., or 1-888-808-7977.
  • The remaining 10% on each sailing is set aside for those without reservations, emergency vehicles, and customers with medical documentation. Approximately 15-20 drive-up/stand-by spaces are often available on most ferries, so if you don't have a reservation, don't let this stop you from visiting. See the "Anacortes Terminal & Cameras" web page to view the approximate number of available spaces on sailings that day.
  • You must check in at the toll booth at least 30 minutes ahead of your sailing time or you will lose your reservation and will travel standby. It is recommended that you arrive in line for your reserved sailing 45-90 minutes in advance of the sailing departure time due to possible long lines, staging requirements, and loading time. Bring your printed reservation sheet with barcode for easy scanning.
  • There is no extra charge for a reservation, however, to secure a reservation you must provide a debit or credit card which will only be charged $10 if you are a ‘no show.’ (Ferry tickets are purchased separately at the Anacortes terminal or online. Tickets include a round trip, although be sure to make 2 reservations -- one coming and one leaving the islands, as mentioned above.)
  • There are several sailings each day to and from each of the 4 islands which almost assures that you’ll get your first, second or third choice of sailing time with a reservation. The ferries run year-round, and off-season reservations are easier to make on short notice.
  • Reservations are available to all 4 islands from Anacortes, but only from Orcas Island and Friday Harbor/San Juan Island returning to Anacortes. Reservations are not available, or typically needed, on the inter-island ferry. Walk-on passengers ride free on inter-island ferries, but vehicles are charged a fee if traveling westbound from each island.
  • You can make a reservation up until 2 hours prior to a sailing, provided there is space available.
  • Changes and cancellations can be made within specific timeframes; please see info at
  • In the event that a sailing is canceled, WA State Ferries will communicate the cancelation(s) via travel alerts to your mobile phone or email address you submitted when you made the reservation. Those who choose to travel will still be prioritized once service is reinstated. If you choose not to travel you won’t be charged a ‘no-show’ fee.
  • Walk-ons don't need a reservation. You can leave your vehicle at the Anacortes terminal and walk on the ferry with your luggage and/or bicycle or kayak. You'll find parking rates and a variety of island transportation options, including a seasonal transit bus and car, bicycle and moped rentals. If you're headed to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the ferry arrives within easy walking distance to activities, attractions, lodging, dining and shopping. If you're headed to Orcas Island or Lopez Island (or somewhere other than Friday Harbor on San Juan Island) you'll want to check into transportation options.
  • Lopez Island Ferry Terminal Notes: The Lopez terminal is located approximately 4 miles from Lopez Village and currently offers water, soda and snacks via vending machines. There are sani-cans but no bathrooms on site.  During the summer the ferry line and wait time can be long since Lopez doesn't have eastbound reservations, so please be prepared.

Questions about reservations?  Call WA State Ferries at 1-888-808-7977  (or call our office at 888-468-3701 ext. 1)

To help plan your trip, you'll find everything you'll need at From this page, you can also find more information about Washington State Ferry terminals, including addresses and directions, ferry cams, amenities and ADA information to make your trip go more smoothly. Web cameras are also available to view the ferry lines at AnacortesOrcas IslandFriday Harbor/San Juan Island, and Lopez Island. You can also view an aerial image of the Anacortes terminal to find parking, toll booths, and more.

Directions to the Anacortes ferry terminal from Seattle

  • Take I-5 north
  • Take Exit 230 to Burlington/Anacortes (or Exits 221 or 226 through scenic Skagit Valley)
  • At the first light, turn left toward Anacortes onto Highway 20 west
  • Follow Highway 20 west to Anacortes for about 16 miles
  • Once you reach Anacortes merge right into the traffic circle and another right onto Commercial Ave.
  • Take a left at 12th St,, where signs point you to the San Juan Islands ferry, and follow for about 2 miles to the terminal

Allow a comfortable 1-1/2 to 2 hours to enjoy the drive and the scenery from Seattle, or Vancouver B.C., to the Anacortes ferry terminal.