Ride a ferry to one of the four main San Juan Islands for a relaxing Pacific Northwest vacation. Stay in one spot, ferry between islands or rent a sea kayak to venture to some of the hundreds of smaller named and unnamed landmasses and reefs.
Start your trip on San Juan Island in Friday Harbor, the county seat and biggest town. Visit the Whale Museum to learn about the large mammals living year-round in the waters around the islands. Whale watch from Lime Kiln Point State Park or from a tour boat. Look for orcas, humpbacks, minkes, gray whales, sea lions and porpoises. Drive or cycle on the scenic byway to Roche Harbor past lavender and alpaca farms and the English Camp San Juan Islands National Historical Park. Learn about the Pig War between the U.S. and Canada over ownership rights to the islands.
Orcas Island is named after an 18th-century viceroy to Mexico and the patron of a Spanish explorer, not after orca whales. However, you can also observe the giant mammals from its shores. Climb Mount Constitution in Moran State Park near Eastsound and notice the town’s historic homes. See the works of more than 45 local artists at Orcas Island Artworks in Olga.
Lopez Island’s 63 miles (101 kilometers) of sandy shoreline offer views of Mount Baker. Bike around the island to farms growing grapes, apples, pears and kiwis. Lopez Village has restaurants, a museum and shops to serve the island’s 2,500 year-round residents and many more tourists.
Bring a picnic onto the inter-island ferry to Shaw Island. If you walk or bike, the ferry is free. Visit the beaches of Shaw County Park, where you can camp overnight year-round. Rent sea kayaks and explore other islands and reefs not served by ferries.
The San Juan Islands are part of Washington State. Traveling here from Seattle or Vancouver, Canada, takes roughly 3 to 4 hours. Drive to Anacortes, Washington, and ride the Anacortes-Friday Ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
Whale Watching, Nature and Islands
Also known as Whale Watch Park, this diving site is one of the best places in the world to view wild orca pods from the shore.
More than 150 years ago, the British Army prepared for battle on this site during the Pig War. Now, it’s a thought-provoking homage to the islands’ dramatic history.
Explore the great outdoors at San Juan Island National Historic Park, a lovely green space in Friday Harbor. While you're in the area, stroll along the waterfront.
Hop on the San Juan Clipper and cruise out of Pier 69 on the only San Juan Island whale watching tour that leaves directly from downtown Seattle.
Embark on a kayaking adventure off Roche Harbor in search of orcas inhabiting the waters surrounding San Juan Island. A professional marine naturalist leads the group and provides fascinating knowledge of Puget Sound’s ecosystem, as well as current conservation efforts to protect the cetaceans.
San Juan Island is one of the world's best places to view Orca whales in the wild. Naturalists point out fascinating wildlife while cruising along the rugged coastline. Board the 55-foot (17-m) vessel, the Sea Lion, where there’s plenty of room to roam the boat and marvel at the wildlife.
Enjoy a breathtaking flight from Seattle's Lake Washington to Friday Harbor aboard one of our classic 6-passenger Dehavilland Beaver seaplanes. Experience views of the Puget Sound, the Seattle Skyline, and the San Juan Islands before the splash-down landing in Friday Harbor on a 50 minute narrated seaplane tour flight.
Discover why Bicycling Magazine ranks Lopez Island as the best ride in Washington State. With a gorgeous combination of pastoral and coastal scenery, a Lopez ride is a “must do.” Bike to the quaint village of Lopez and grab a bite to eat or pack a picnic and pedal to a stunning park or sandy beach.
Take in the beautiful sights of British Columbia on an educational whale-watching adventure from Victoria ! Enjoy a three-hour cruise on the Pacific and spot majestic orcas (killer whales) while learning about Canada’s marine ecosystem from two onboard naturalists.