Vacation to the San Juan Islands
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Vacation in the San Juan Islands – Relaxing vacations in the US


A vacation in the San Juan Islands. A quiet vacation spot and one of those great nature vacations you’ll always remember…


Make no mistake. In the not too distant future, travel will work its way back into our lives. Yes, some of the rules might change in the short term.  But with newly adopted safety precautions & perhaps some destination changes, we’ll be out exploring again soon.

Rather than heading to the big city destinations this year, perhaps it’s worth considering smaller, less touristy spots… like the San Juan Islands.

Natural beauty, Artists, great cuisine & small crowds… let’s take a look! – Jaunty


Visiting the San Juan Islands

vacation in the San Juans

By Betsy – a freelance writer who writes about lifestyle and travel  She makes her home on a small island in the Pacific Northwest


The majestic San Juan Islands are located in Washington State’s Salish Sea; the wild and lovely waterways northwest of Seattle. San Juan Island is the largest of these, while Orcas Island is smaller and more mountainous.

Less touristy Shaw and Lopez Islands each have their own special charms. When you spend time on any of these islands, you’ll feel yourself relaxing from the urban hustle.  Take a moment to inhale the fresh scent of seashore and forest and move to a more natural rhythm.


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Getting to the San Jaun Islands

Kayaking in San Juans

The first taste you’ll have of the San Juans being set apart will probably be your ride on a Washington State ferry. Don’t worry about seasickness: unless there are gale-force winds, you won’t even feel like you’re on a boat. Only the breathtaking views of green mounded islands surrounding you on all sides, will remind you where you are.

You can drive onto the ferry, so that you have your car when you reach your destination. Be sure to plan ahead. Advance reservations for vehicles are required.  You can also park your car in Anacortes, at the ferry terminal (for a fee) or at the Anacortes public Park-n-Ride, and walk onto the ferry.

If  you’re feeling adventurous, you can also fly from the mainland in a small plane. Point2Point Air offers the best prices. You’ll be able to see the entire archipelago from the viewpoint of an eagle.


Click to see a  3 day guide to Sequim, WA – Quiet, beautiful!


Nature Vacation – Whale Watching, of Course!

Whale watching in the San Juans

Whale watching is the iconic activity of the San Juans.  And, be assured that you can experience it in comfort. The larger boats offer restrooms and heated interiors, while the smaller ones hand out jackets and blankets. You will have the use of complimentary binoculars, and naturalists on board will deepen your understanding of the orcas that call these waters home.

The best months for whale watching tend to be in Summer. That said, spring and fall can also be rich times for wildlife. Even if you don’t happen to see orcas, you may see humpback or gray whales, sea lions, dolphins, harbor seals, river otters, and an amazing variety of sea birds.

The whale watching companies are numerous. Your best bet is simply to google “whale watching san juans” and just pick the company and experience that suits your style. Visit Friday Harbor’s Whale Museum for context before you go.


Forests, Mountains and Beaches

Hiking in the San Juans


Even if you don’t watch whales, you still have plenty of opportunities for getting up close to nature. You can move around by way of island taxi, car rentals, bikes, or moped rentals. Take a walk on long, sandy Jackson Beach on San Juan Island. Or, the more secluded Fourth of July beach on the same island is reachable by forested path.

On Orcas Island, drive up to the easy parking lot on Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, or take a dip in crystalline Cascade Lake. For a closeup experience of the quiet waterways and inlets, kayak tours and rentals are abundant. At Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, or Jackson Beach on San Juan Island, you will find kayak rentals, lessons, and many tour opportunities.


A Community of Artists in the San Juans

Artists in the San Juan Islands


The San Juan Islands are about much more than nature. Many artists live in these inspiring locations, producing extraordinary work in every medium.

In early June, San Juan Island offers an artists’ studio tour. You can pick up a map, and drive the island, visiting and chatting with artists. In 2019, 22 studios and 61 artists were on the tour.

Or, you can always browse the work of local artists and craftspeople at Orcas Island Artworks or Island Studios in Friday Harbor. Visitors to the islands can also enjoy the thriving cultural life year-round.

Orcas Island Center for the Performing Arts is a lovely space that offers lectures, theater performances, music and classes of all kinds. San Juan Community Theater has similar programs, with two different performance spaces and a studio.


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Culinary Arts

Some artistic passions are directed to culinary passions. The San Juans are rich with fresh local foods, and several dining options. Farmers’ markets on San Juan and Orcas Island occur every Saturday, from early spring through late fall. Local organic farmers sell fresh produce, flowers, pasture-raised meats, and specialty foods at these events, while musicians add to the celebratory atmosphere.

Extraordinary baked goods are available at Cafe Demeter in Friday Harbor and Brown Bear Bakery on Orcas.

World-class fine dining is available at The Inn at Ship Bay, and finely crafted foods of all kinds are available at the many restaurants. Explore, taste and experiment!

Easily accessible from Seattle, the San Juan Islands are a truly unique vacation destination. The unspoiled environment combined with a sophisticated, sensitive tourist economy makes for memorable getaway!

Click to see a 3 day guide to Sequim, WA – Quiet, beautiful!