Looking For a Truly Unique Vacation? The San Juan Islands May Be Just What You're Looking For

The San Juan Islands are part of the San Juan Archipelago in the northwest corner of the United States, between the state of Washington and British Columbia, Canada. There are more than 450 separate islands, but less than one-sixth of them are permanently habitated, and only fifteen islands are accessible by public ferry. They are an important tourist attraction for many who enjoy the charm and beauty of these islands. With less than half the rainfall of Seattle, and an average of 247 days of sunshine a year, the weather should be perfect for your vacation. Summer temperatures average around 70 degrees, while winter temps are in the upper 30's to lower 40's. There are plenty of things to see and do, including whale watching, biking, camping, boating and sailing, museums and historical sites, and more. In this article we'll give you basic information on what you can do, where to stay, and of course, how to get there. If you've always been curious about this vacation destination, read the article and consider a visit. You'll find lots more information at, the official home page for the San Juan Islands.

Getting There Is Half The Fun

You can fly direct from Seattle in 30-45 minutes by airplane or seaplane, flying from either Sea-Tac Airport or Boeing Field. The Washington State Ferry System operates ferries from several cities, including Seattle, Anacortes, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Everett, Bellingham. Coming from Victoria or Vancouver, British Columbia? You can travel by airplane or by ferry. Or charter a yacht or sailboat from the mainland or from the islands. There are inter-island ferries which can take you from any of the fifteen islands with ferry service. It's recommended that you be in line for your ferry at least one hour ahead of departure during the fall, winter and spring months; and two hours ahead during the summer.

Things To See and Do: The Other Half of "Fun"

Whether you're only coming for the day or for several days, you won't find any lack of fun activities to do while you're here. From visiting art galleries, wineries or museums, to more active activities like biking, hiking, camping, boating and more, there's never a dull moment in the San Juans. Here's a general listing of what there is in store for you on your San Juans vacation:

Art Galleries
If you enjoy visiting art galleries, there are many to choose from, including Orcas Island Artworks, Paula West Pottery, or CH Maley Garden Studios.

Boating and Sailing
The islands abound with charter companies who will take you boating and sailing, and on whale watching tours.

Biking and Hiking
If you love these activities, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to choose from. One of the most famous is Moran State Park on Orcas Island, home to Mt. Constitution, the highest mountain in any of the San Juan Islands.

There are any number of tours which can be taken while visiting the San Juan Islands. These include whale and wildlife tours by boat, kayak or on shore; bird-watching tours; air tours; and hiking tours.

Where To Stay While In The San Juans

You'll find plenty of choices when it comes to places to stay on your San Juan Island vacation. From Bed & Breakfasts and hotels to camping, cabins and homes, the choice is yours.

San Juan County Parks operates campgrounds on San Juan, Shaw, and Lopez islands for tent and smaller RV's. Mt. Moran Stake Park on Orcas Island is home to 5,252 acres of camping facilities. Washington State Marine Parks operate campgrounds on several islands which are only accessible by boat. You'll also find camping at Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island and cottages and tent camping at Lopez Farm Cottages and Tent Camping.

Lopez Islander Bay Resort can be found on Lopez Island near Lopez Village: West Beach Resort on the west side of Orcas Island; Doe Bay Resort and Retreat offers all the amenities you could want in any mainland resort.

Hotels and Motels
We can't list them all, but here are a few choices for you. On Orcas Island you can stay at Bartwood Lodge, Cascade Harbor Inn, or the landmark Orcas Hotel; on San Juan Island enjoy Discovery Inn, Elements San Juan Island Hotel and Spa, or the Friday Harbor House; Lopez Island is home to the Lopez Islander Bay Resort.

Bed & Breakfast
Plenty of Bed & Breakfast inns to choose from on Orcas Island. Among them are Madronna Hill B&B, a short walk from the ferry; Old Trout Inn B&B or Otters Pond B&B are other choices. San Juan Island is home to numerous bed & breakfasts, including Blair House B&B, just a few blocks from the ferry dock in Friday Harbor, Halvorsen House B&B, about 2 miles from Friday Harbor with a wooded setting; or Harrison House Suites B&B, a block from the ferry dock in Friday Harbor. There are plenty more to choose from, so be sure to check out for more choices of places to stay.

In Conclusion

While we can't begin to tell you all the fun things to see and do as you visit the San Juan Islands, we can promise a vacation like no other. Whether you come for a day's visit, or more, you'll find plenty to keep you as busy as you want to be, or as relaxed as you want, too. Some of the most beautiful sights in the world are available here. Be sure to check out the official travel guide for the San Juan Islands for even more information and choices as you plan your stay in the San Juan Islands.

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