Situated about three and a half hours from Seattle, Washington, the San Juan Islands provide nature lovers the opportunity for a quick overnight adventure trek. Savor the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest in a setting that’s welcoming to visitors without the tourist trappings often associated with scenic seaside island communities.
Start your adventure by deciding how you will get to the Islands. From mid-May through early October, the Victoria Clipper runs a high speed passenger ferry from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. If you want to bring your car or are traveling during the off season, board the Washington State ferry for the San Juan Islands. (If you’re traveling sans car from Seattle, take the Bellair Airporter to Anacortes.) While this ferry stops at a number of islands, set your sights for Friday Harbor located on San Juan Island as that’s the easiest place to visit in for a short overnight trek.
Upon your arrival drive, take a taxi or rent a moped and head over to the Discovery Inn. This cozy inn located just a few minutes drive from the ferry features a seasonal jacuzzi and simple yet comfortable rooms situated in a park like setting.
After checking in, head out via taxi, car or moped to Roche Harbor. Make a stop at the 20-acre San Juan Islands Sculpture Par. Meander through their five marked trails and stop by their pond as you take in over 150 original works of art set against a stunning natural setting.
Then head over to Roche Harbor, a sheltered harbor on the northwest side of San Juan Island and site of Roche Harbor Resort, a seaside resort offering lodging and accommodations. Check out Hotel de Haro, a hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places that has hosted luminaries like Teddy Roosevelt.
Weather permitting, stop by the resort’s Madrona Bar and Grill for a cocktail and the seasonal catch set as the sun sets over the neighboring marina. Should the weather not permit outdoor dining, then step inside to McMillin’s Dining Room for their seasonal menu or their house speciality, a 40-day aged prime rib paired with their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.
The next morning, take a quick trek over to Rocky Bay Cafe on Spring Street in Friday Harbor for a full breakfast of eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy or other filling fare. Then stop by Spring Street Deli and pick up a light lunch and a bottle of water before heading over to Discovery Sea Kayaks also located on Spring Street.
From March through October, book their half day kayak tour departing at 11:30am. Take off in their van furnished with all the needed gear for a leisurely kayak tour along the west side of San Juan island. Pass the iconic Lime Kiln Lighthouse as cross rocky terrain with the opportunity to spot famed Orca killer whales and other wildlife. Put your lunch and water into a furnished dry bag and grab a bite or a dink as needed during your paddle. If you happen to forget sunscreen, a hat, a fleece jacket or other needed items, you can purchase them at Discovery Sea Kayaks’ fully stocked outdoor retail shop.
Following your kayaking expedition, pick up a sandwich or salad to go from Spring Street Deli. Then board your respective ferry and return to Seattle.
What & Where
Bellair Charters & Airporter (1416 Whitehorn Street, Ferndale WA; 866-235-5247)
Friday Harbor Taxi (360-298-4434)
Discovery Inn (1016 Guard Street, Friday Harbor, WA; 888-754-0034)
Discovery Sea Kayaks (260 Spring Street, Friday Harbor, WA; 866-461-2559)
Roche Harbor Resort (248 Reuben Memorial Dr., Roche Harbor, WA; 800-451-8910)
Rocky Bay Cafe (225 Spring St., Friday Harbor, WA; 360-378-5051)
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau (640 Mullis Street, Suites 210 & 211; The Technology Center, Friday Harbor, WA; 888-468-3701)
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park (9083 Roche Harbor Rd., Friday Harbor, WA; 360-370-0035)
Spring Street Deli (135 Spring Street, Friday Harbor, WA; 360-378-5959)
Susie’s Mopeds (125 Nichols Street, Friday Harbor, WA; 800-532-0087)
Washington State Ferries (2901 Third Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle WA 98121-3014 ; 206-464-6400)