There are quite a number of state parks on the San Juan Islands. Only a few of these are accessible by auto. The rest require the use of a water taxi boat service (generally fairly expensive), or your own watercraft, in order to get to them. If you do drive to any of the state parks, keep in mind that they require the use of a Discover Pass or a...more
Finding things to do in the San Juan Islands can be an interesting experience, and not necessarily easy for those who are used to finding out about everything online.Here in the San Juan Islands, news tends to travel along traditional routes.If you want to find out what is going on around the islands, check the local bulletin boards. In the main...more
There are perhaps a dozen different places offering kayak trips in Friday Harbor alone. Pretty much all of the other communities of any significance, even as small as they are, have at least one kayak tour operator. As I was staying in Friday Harbor I went with Discovery Sea Kayaks, which operates a sunset kayak trip on the west side of San Juan...more
Washington State Ferries is in fact supposed to be transportation. Due to the nature of the fare system, it is easier of they don't charge people when they travel from one island to another, and instead simply charge everyone when going westward out of Anacortes.Cars and other vehicles are heavy and take a lot of space. Those are charged from one...more
I HIGHLY recommend a small boat whale watching tour. As I stated in the kayaking tip, there were very few tourists in Mid-May so my hubby and I were the only ones on the boat with the captian. Not within 10 minutes did we encounter Orca whales( J pod) and the alpha male Ruffles. Ruffles is named for his unique apperance of his dorsal fin. This...more
Being a vegetarian visiting the West Coast there is never a shortage of good restaurants (unlike Texas where I live). Do expect to pay a minimum of $10 for a dinner entree so the islands are not for the budget conscious.
Favorite Dish: Everyplace we ate was great from Italian to veggie burgers.
If you look at a Washington State Ferries schedule for the San Juan Islands, you will find a mystifying array of trips that stop at some islands, and don't stop at others. Some trips are marked "Interisland". These are the trips that go between islands for local traffic, without going to Anacortes.Any of the ferries can wind up being used on the...more
Many of my previous tips dealt with getting to the islands without a car. However, what about getting around on the islands once you have arrived? This is an important question, as there are a number of visitors that arrive on the islands using their own boat, or a float plane service, and while the boat is good for getting from island to island...more
While a fair number of people will tell you the proper place for this tip is in the Warning or Dangers area or perhaps the Tourist Trap section, the fact is these little cars (smaller than many bicycles) are one way to get around on the San Juan Islands, and are fairly unique to the island culture. It is very rare to see these little vehicles...more
Due to their proximity to the Canadian border, it's really easy to enter Canadian waters without knowing it. If you accidently swim into Canadian waters and are stopped by the Coast Guard, without the propper documents, you could have some serrious problems. It is advised that you use a map, GPS, or any other reliable navigation equiptment. Some...more
Be extremely careful where you go kayaking. If you don't have a lot of experience, it is advised that you take one of the kayak tours, or check with some local kayakers for the safest spots. Because of their location, there are several strong converging currents in several parts of the islands. When kayaking it is advised that you avoid the passes,...more
I did a day kayak trip with Outdoor Odysseys and the scenery was just beautiful. We did see several bald eagles. Kayaking here is very different from the Gulf Coast as the water is rougher however not as exhausting in the Pacific Northwest compared to the Gulf Coast due to the weather.
Equipment: All equipment was provided by Outdoor Odysseys including a great vegetarian lunch.
The orcas (of course). There are 3 pods of orcas residing in this area - total of approx 100 whales. We saw several bald eagles, harbor seals, and bull kelp. My travel focuses mostly on the outdoors and wildlife so this is probably the best place in the U.S. for ecotourism as everyone is conscientious about the environment and surroundings. All restaurants were great .
Fondest memory: The morning we viewed the pod of 8 orcas playing in the ocean.