The San Juan Islands are a hidden gem nestled in between Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Colombia that can only be accessed by ferry. With an abundance of wildlife, including resident whales, bald eagles, and foxes and with gorgeous views in every direction, San Juan Island has it all. If you’re looking for a truly magical experience, check out the best things to do on San Juan Island.
Discover the Natural Beauty of the Island
Visit Lime Kiln State Park
Lime Kiln State Park is on the west side of the island and has some of the most breathtaking views. Nestled along the coast are a few short hikes that weave in and out of the multi-colored Madrona trees while keeping you right on the water. During the summer months, you can check out the inside of the lighthouse where they have stats on when the last whale sightings were, what wildlife is in the area, and some exhibits that give you more detail about the Southern Resident Killer Whales. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get a chance to see the orcas swim by the island!
Sail Around the Islands
There are many whale watching companies available to take a tour with, but for a much more intimate and pleasant experience, check out All Aboard Sailing. Captained by husband and wife duo David and Barbara, you are certain to have a fantastic day out on the water. They only take six people at a time so you aren’t crammed into a boat with dozens of other people. All you have to do is relax on the bean bag chairs and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Not every tour can guarantee whales, no matter who you sail with, but you’re going to experience amazing wildlife and beauty no matter what.
Take a Hike in Jakles Lagoon
One of the most unique experiences you can have on the island is hiking the area around Jakles Lagoon. Take the path to the right where you’ll start hiking up the hill just outside of the treeline as you ascend Mount Finlayson. Approaching the summit, you are awarded a breathtaking view of Cattle Point Lighthouse and on clear days, you can even see Mount Rainier! Turn into the forest and everything will suddenly get calm as you venture through the moss-covered trees and giant fern leaves. The temperature quickly drops at least 10 degrees as you find yourself immersed in a lush green forest that reminds you of Fern Gully. The trails are all marked with signs so that you can find your way through, but make sure you check out the actual lagoons to see some of the massive pieces of driftwood that litter the south side of the island.
Buy Local Products
Pelindaba Lavender Farm
Pulling into the parking lot at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm, you’re greeted by the most vibrant shades of purple as far as the eye can see. Stepping into the fields, you start to pick up on the sound of the bees buzzing between all of the flowers and the smell of lavender floats through the breeze, enveloping you completely. You can cut your own stalks if you’d like, but they also offer an assortment of items such as linen sprays, soaps, drinks, and much more! If you can’t make it out to the farm on the west side of the island, they also have a store right in Friday Harbor.
Where to Eat and Drink
Enjoy a Delicious Meal at Mike’s Cafe & Wine Bar
There are many places to grab a bite on the island, but none of them compare to Mike’s Cafe & Wine Bar. It’s the only all-vegan restaurant on the island and is the premier place to have lunch or dinner. During the summer you can relax on the back patio next to the waterfall while sampling the wine selections and delicious food. The owner, Mike, has a booming personality and will stop by to chat with you about his wine, food, or just about anything else. His Philly Cheese-steak is one of the best in the country!
Sample the Local Beers at San Juan Island Brewing Co.
Just a short walk up the hill from the ferry terminal, the San Juan Island Brewing Co. is a great place to sit down and have a drink. They have a wide array of beers on tap and even some ciders so there’s a little something for everyone. If you can’t decide on just one beer flavor, go ahead and get a flight! They have both indoor and outdoor seating which lets you take advantage of the gorgeous weather on a nice sunny day.
Take in the Harbor Views from Friday’s Crabhouse
Just a few steps off the ferry and right up the stairs is Friday’s Crabhouse. It’s a fantastic place to grab a drink with an incredible view of the harbor and is the best view in town to watch the ferries come and go. They only have a couple of beers on tap, but have a wide array of cocktails and can mix you a phenomenal drink for all occasions. If you go, ask for Donald and see if he will make you a delicious “magic drink,” just tell him Aaron and Hayden sent you.