San Juan Islands Vacation: Lists of activities, descriptions, and photos of many attractions and things to do while vacationing in the San Juan Islands, cataloged by island.
San Juan Island and Orcas Island offer the most vacation attractions, but Lopez Island has offerings as well. Plus, your San Juan Islands vacation may include State Parks on other nearby small islands which will be accessible by boat, plane, or kayak. Depending on the day and the season, you might find you have an entire (little) island to yourself!
Lime Kiln Point State Park
1567 Westside Rd., Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Hours: 8 am - Dusk. The Interpretive Center is open from late May through mid-September.
Entrance: Discover Pass required.
This is the place to go if you’d rather watch for whales without taking a boat. Haro Strait, into which Lime Kiln Point juts, is prime orca feeding habitat, which is why Lime Kiln Point State Park is also nicknamed "Whale-Watching Park."
Enjoy spectacular views of Haro Strait, a picturesque lighthouse and the mountains of Vancouver Island. Buildings on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula are clearly visible, being not much more than 7 miles (12 km) distant.
Easy walking trails and picnic tables make this an ideal spot to bring a picnic lunch. As you wait for orcas to make an appearance, you may also see deer, bald eagles, harbor seals, sea lions, or sea otters.
San Juan Island National Historical Park memorializes the international row that occurred on this Island between Britain and the United States, each of which laid claim to the San Juan Islands in the 1800's.
The park maintains two visitor centers at opposite ends of the island - fittingly - one at the American Camp in the southwest, the other at the English Camp in the northwest of the Island. Both of these were once military bases. Learn about the angry border dispute between Britain and the United States that was started by a pig.
San Juan Island National Historic Park at English Camp
Visitor Center: 3905 West Valley Rd., Friday Harbor, WA 98250
While the ownership disputes between England and the USA raged as to which islands pertained to which countries, the English Royal Marines encamped for years at this English Camp, also beautifying the area and building barracks and buildings that would last.
English Camp is located in the northwest of the island a bit south of Roche Harbor (named after a British officer).
Visiting English Camp is an iconic San Juan Islands vacation choice, plus the grounds and views are beautiful.
San Juan Island National Historic Park at American Camp
Visitor Center: 4668 Cattle Point Rd., Friday Harbor, WA 98250
American Camp was occupied by the Americans from 1859 to 1874 subsequent to agreement of a joint occupation by both British and American troops. Interesting that the American soldiers lived in tepee structures while the British lived in rectangular tents and well constructed barracks.
American Camp is located in the extreme south of San Juan Island. Follow the above links for more info about the many hiking and walking trails.
Zip San Juan
Meet your tour guide at the end of 1st Street in downtown Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
Hours: 9a - 5p. Closes for the winter; reopens around April 1.
Pump some adrenaline into your San Juan Islands vacation excursion! Six sip lines and a suspension bridge - a great day trip! The zip lines and suspension bridge are both perfect for first-timers and experienced zip-liners alike. Glide across the treetops and experience beautiful aerial views of forests, marshes and ponds not usually experienced otherwise.
This is terrific fun for the whole family as long as you are 8 years old and over 60 pounds. No car? No problem. A van will pick you up from Friday Harbor and bring you back after your adventure.
Cattle Point Lighthouse
The unobstructed views atop the Cattle Point promontory may even yield views of whales in the area. This is a great place to picnic and bike-ride. American Camp is nearby.
Your San Juan Islands vacation might also reveal evidence of San Juan Rabbits - domestic rabbits that were released on the island a hundred years ago. They still very closely resemble the original native European rabbit. They weigh up to 5.5 pounds, and have long since gone feral.
Bonus: Red foxes thrive here as well, imported in order to control the feral rabbit population. If viewing wildlife interests you, bring binoculars or long camera lenses.
Getting There: To find the foxes/rabbits, turn south on Pickett's Lane from Cattle Point Road.
For more info and history about Cattle Point and its lighthouse: https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=106
The main orca feeding grounds are just off the western coastline of San Juan Island in Haro Strait. This may be why San Juan Island boasts SIX whale watching companies, each employing state-of-the-art classic boats or zodiac speedboats, both of which get you quickly to the action.
See San Juan Islands Whale Watching for an overview and list of whale watching tours leaving from the San Juan Islands.
(This doesn't even count sailing tours, during which you may very well encounter large marine mammals, or kayaking tours where the whales may come to you, up close and personal.)
Sea Quest Expeditions/Sea Quest Kayak Tours
2 Front St., Friday Harbor, WA, 98250
Summer Hours: Every day 8a-7p
Winter Hours: Mon-Fri 10a-4p
Book a sea kayaking half-day trip up to 5 day trip, or work out a custom tour that suits your desires. They also guide tours to Alaska and Mexico, by the way.
Sea Quest Expeditions Bird-Watching Tours: Sea Quest Expeditions also hosts bird-watching tours (hundreds of species) with local bird book author and biologist Mark Lewis.
Discovery Adventure Tours and Discovery Sea Kayak
260 Spring Street, PO Box 2743, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250
+1-360-378-2559; Toll Free: +1-866-461-2559
Discovery Adventure Tours
These sister companies offer:
Additionally, shop at their store in downtown Friday Harbor. You'll find them at their Spring Street address, above.
San Juan Outfitters – Day Tours
Roche Harbor Adventure Center, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Sea Kayak tours, whale watch tours, multi-day kayaking tours, kayak rentals
This outfit owns San Juan Safaris. “Brian brought San Juan Outfitters and San Juan Safaris back together. Brian now owns and operates two eco-tourism companies from San Juan Island that continue to set the bar in excellence.”
Speaking of kayaking (or boating), there are several islands not far from San Juan Island to which you can boat or kayak, camp overnight or longer, and then return the way you came or set off on the next leg of your San Juan Islands vacation.
Stuart Island Marine State Park
Stuart Island is the westernmost island in the San Juans, located in the triangular notch of the USA/Canadian border. It comprises 85 acres of forest, 33,030 feet of saltwater shoreline, and moorage at Reed and Prevost harbors. Kayakers love it. One can also sail or boat in….
Turn Point Lighthouse occupies the western tip of Stuart Island. Well named; if you want to remain in American waters you need to make a bit of a right-angle turn. Stuart Island SP sits in the midst of an isthmus in the middle of the island.
Arrive by boat, kayak, or single engine plane.
Posey Island Marine State Park
This tiny 1-acre marine camping park with 1000 feet of shoreline is located off the northwestern tip of Pearl Island. The Cascadia Marine Trail includes this island, which boasts all of two campsites. Reserve yours at least 14 days in advance by calling +1-360-378-2044 (Lime Kiln Point State Park).
Kayakers can camp; if you arrive via motorboat, you are permitted day-use only.
Your San Juan Islands vacation can soar above, sail the blue, and saunter the roads with each of these sightseeing tours!
The Tour San Juan Island by JulieC Photography
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Walk on the ferry at Anacortes, come straight to Friday Harbor, then take this tour!
7 iconic stops throughout San Juan Island. You get picked up in Friday Harbor at several pick-up and drop-off locations around town. You'll take a 4 hour land-based tour around San Juan Island in an upscale travel van. Stops may include “San Juan Vineyards, Roche Harbor, Westcott Bay, San Juan County Park, Lime Kiln State Park, False Bay, South Beach, Cattle Point Light House, Lavender Farm and our local Alpaca Farm.”
1 Front St, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Hours: Every day 11a-7p
Half-day, full day, evenings, and multi-day sails leaving from and returning to Friday Harbor.
Take advantage of as many of these San Juan Islands vacation shopping choices as you like! Take home wine, spirits, fresh seafood, or fine sculptures along with your many warm memories.
San Juan Vineyards
3136 Roche Harbor Rd, Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, WA 98250
Tasting Room Hours: Every day 11a-5p.
Hours are seasonal, check website.
San Juan Island Distillery (Roche Harbor)
12 Anderson Ln, Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Hours: Tastings are on Sat, 1-4p
“Passionate about cider and gin” (reviewer BienViaje68 on TripAdvisor).
Westcott Bay Shellfish Company
904 Westcott Drive, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Located in the bay across from Roche Harbor. This is a working aquaculture farm in the heart of the San Juan Islands.
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, also known as Westcott Bay Sculpture Park
9083 Roche Harbor Road, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-5520
Hours: every day dawn to dusk, donations appreciated ($5/per person)
Sculptures are available for purchase. See over 150 unique sculptures by world renowned artists along 5 marked trails in a beautiful setting. Children are free. Art and nature combined. This is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization; facility is all volunteer.
Pieces are rotated in and out of the park. When one sculpture sells, another takes its place. You may submit an application for the display of your own art.
If a perfect San Juan Islands vacation includes first-hand exploration of historical artifacts, or wandering through shops filled with one-of-a-kind works of art, you are in incredible luck.
San Juan Island and especially Friday Harbor is filled with fine arts and crafts. Here is your opportunity to snag truly unique pieces to grace your home for years.
See our San Juan Island Washington page for full info on fine arts and crafty galleries, museum, and more.
And just so you know, there is no shortage of talented artisans on Orcas or Lopez Islands either....
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