Washington State’s San Juan Islands are worth a look when planning your next vacation. This group of islands occupies a prime location between the Rosario Strait and the Haro Strait, close to Anacortes and Vancouver Island.
This position means the archipelago is full of natural beauty. If you’ve never seen the San Juan Islands in person, you’re missing out because they are spectacular.
There are many reasons to get on a ferry or plane and head to the San Juan Islands. Here’s a look at the top five reasons this island chain should be at the top of your list as you decide your vacation destination.
1) Stunning Natural Beauty
The San Juan Islands are gorgeous. You won’t find many other places in the country with as little development as these islands, and that’s how locals want to keep it.
On any given day on one of the islands, you can head to a secluded beach, stop by a state or national park, or wander through a nature preserve while enjoying scenic views of the Salish Sea. There are bays, inlets, and coves everywhere, each with something different for visitors to discover and a myriad of hiking trails culminating with stunning vistas over the water.
You won’t even feel like you’re in the same country once you set foot on one of these islands because they take you to a secluded place with no one around for miles. You can’t overstate the beauty of the San Juan Islands, as it’s one of the main reasons people from all over the world make it their annual vacation spot.
2) Top-Notch Dining
An underrated reason for checking out the San Juan Islands is the food. You won’t find any restaurant chains here, as almost everything is locally owned and operated. While you’ll have to give up your morning Starbucks for a few days, the dining scene has you covered with more than adequate replacements.
The region as a whole is known for its farm-to-table cuisine. If you visit a restaurant during your stay, there’s a good chance the vegetables were grown nearby, and the meat came from a local farm.
Of course, you must try the seafood while in the area, as local fishermen head out every morning for a fresh catch and sell the fish to local eateries.
As for the coffee, the beans out here are from San Juan Island Roasters, which enjoys a convenient location right on Friday Harbor. Stop in for a cup, grab some beans to go, or have breakfast in the cafe. How you spend your mornings is entirely up to you.
3) Abundant Art and Culture
The San Juan Islands are a haven for culture and the arts. First, the area has a rich history you can learn about at its museums. The Whale Museum on Friday Harbor is the best-known of the bunch and features two floors of exhibits focusing on orcas and their habitats.
The San Juan Islands Museum of Art has works by local artists and Indigenous art from all over the Pacific Northwest. If you want to look at this area’s past and present, this museum is worth a stop.
Other options for experiencing local culture include taking in a show at the San Juan Community Theatre or the self-guided San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour. This tour takes you to various working studios in the area to discover works from multiple artists during your stay.
4) Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
Because of its exquisite beauty, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible outside while exploring the San Juan Islands. Fortunately, there’s plenty for you to do while you’re here.
Most visitors spend at least part of their vacations hiking. You can also go camping, fishing, boating, or cycling. Sea kayaking is a popular activity in the region, and there are zip-lining opportunities, too.
When visiting the San Juan Islands, your days will be full of outdoor adventures. You’ll just have to decide which activities you want to try.
5) Sea Kayak Tours San Juan Islands
While enjoying the outdoors, consider the available sea kayaking tours to bring you closer to nature. Sea kayaking at night allows you to experience the area’s bioluminescence, the finest naturally occurring light show you’ll ever find.
Sea Quest Kayak Tours located at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island offers bioluminescence kayaking tours nearly every night that is an extraordinary experience that you will never forget. Best of all, no experience is required and because of the rain shadow on the Islands you can experience the glowing night lights in the waters under clear skies.
Or, you can head out for a tour during the day and do some whale watching. Humpback, Gray, Fin and Minke Whales are the four types of Baleen Whales that can be found either migrating or foraging for food depending on the time of the year. However one of the best locations in United States to view Orca or Killer Whales is in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands. Nothing is more thrilling than sea kayaking near or in a pod of Orcas with an up close and personal experience of these majestic sea mammals in the wild.
You can book tours in the morning or evening or stay out for the entire day. Two, three, and five days excursions are also available.
Seeing this area and the wildlife that inhabits it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t miss out when visiting the San Juan Islands on your next vacation.
Get to Know the San Juan Islands
Whether you want to spend all your time outdoors or you’re looking for a cultural and culinary experience, the San Juan Islands have something for you. The beauty and diversity you’ll find here make it worth a visit, and the wildlife and whale watching help you take your adventure a step further.