I’ve been visiting San Juan Island in Puget Sound for the last fifteen years, but every time I do I find something new to enjoy. There is a little something for everyone and I guarantee you, by the time you leave, you will never forget the beauty, fun and tranquility of San Juan Island.
The ferry ride
The journey begins on the ferry ride from Anacortes. You can now make reservations ahead of time, and I strongly recommend it. You can do it easily on line with just a few clicks. The ferry ride over is beautiful, so try to make it during daylight hours. If you get very lucky you might see some orcas.
Downtown Friday Harbor
There are many fun things to do in downtown Friday Harbor. Restaurants offer some of the best seafood in the Pacific Northwest. I especially like the clam chowder at Diggers and the delicious fish and chips at Cask and Schooner Pub across the street.
Shopping is always fun, especially while on vacation. There are some darling little boutique shops and places to buy memorable souvenirs. If you enjoy consignments shops, don’t forget to drop by Second Act. They carry classy clothing at a fraction of the cost of the boutiques.
There are many places to find hidden treasures in the pebbly beaches of the San Juan islands. South Beach is always a good bet. It’s quite long and you are bound to find some good shells there. It is also a great place for a summer picnic or flying a kite.
Sculpture Park is right next to Roche Harbor and a favorite place of mine to spend an afternoon. Pack a picnic lunch and wander through the woods, take in the view of the bay or large pond, and get inspired by the beautiful sculptures. The cost is a suggested donation of only $5 a person.
If you are a history buff there are several great museums on the island. The English Camp has a great view of the water and is rich in history. It served as a military station for the English during the “Pig War.” The Pig War began in 1859 and lasted for 12-years while British and U.S. forces occupied the island and argued over who owned it. If you are fans of lighthouses, don’t forget to visit Cattle Point Lighthouse and Lime Kiln lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point. It is an ideal place to see orcas from shore.
I’ve been whale watching in the waters of Puget Sound many times and have rarely been disappointed. I’ve seen whales larger than the boat I was in, watched orcas breach just yards away and pods of whales converge before my eyes like long lost relatives. Whale watching is a unique and thrilling experience and one of my favorite island activities.
Zip lining is a fun activity for thrill seekers. I went zip lining a couple of years ago with my family and we had a blast soaring through the island forest. It’s a safe and fun adventure for teens and adults and an exciting way to enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
Roche Harbor is a small little town but is a famous destination for celebrity yachter’s from around the world. Visitors can wander the docks in the marina and drool over the giant yachts, while dreaming of sailing to exotic destinations in luxury and comfort. You never know who you might meet and where they’re headed.
Whatever events grab your attention while on San Juan island, don’t forget to find time to relax and enjoy the tranquility. The natural beauty of the hills, pristine waters, and majestic trees will renew even the most restless spirits. It’s a place that will leave a lasting impression and make you long to return.