The San Juan Islands are a piece of secret paradise lying off the coast of Washington and nearly straddling the border to Canada (which is visible from many places on clear days). The weather is mild and sunny for the majority of the year and the islands are blessed with an abundance of incredible hotels and inns, restaurants and wildlife. Are you dreaming of visiting yet? If so, read on to see what a perfect vacation to the San Juan Islands could look like![caption id="attachment_31048" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] A stunning and otherworldly landscape. Photo by Jonathan Miske CC BY[/caption]
Fly into Friday Harbor from Seattle on Kenmore Air, get a rental car and get ready to explore San Juan, the second largest and most populated of all the San Juan Islands. Friday Harbor is a small but lively community with lots of first-class restaurants and hotels, cute shops and friendly residents.
Two nights at Island Inn@123 West[caption id="attachment_31056" align="aligncenter" width="960"] A charming interior with beautiful views of the harbor. Photo courtesy of the Island Inn at 123 West Facebook Page[/caption]
One of the best experiences you could have would be waking up at the Island Inn @123 West, in Friday Harbor, spread across a plush King-sized bed in a room facing the sea and watching the sunrise — regardless of whether you fall back asleep or get moving with your next San Juan Island activity:
Whale watching or photography tour with San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours[caption id="attachment_31076" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Get friendly with the local Orca population. Photo by jc.winkler CC BY[/caption]
Whale watching is a must-do on the islands and imagine being invited aboard the Odyssey with Captain Pete from San Juan Excursions, or the Natsilane with Captain Hobbes of San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours, to journey through the waters around the San Juan Islands. On these tours, you’ll see the abundance of wildlife, including orca whales, sea lions, seals, eagles and shore and water birds that populate the waters around the islands.
Ferry over to Orcas Island on the Washington State Ferry[caption id="attachment_31058" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] All aboard the ferry to Orca Island. Photo by Jonathan Miske CC BY[/caption]
Take the iconic Washington State Ferry over to Orcas Island and enjoy the salty air and breathtaking views along the way. The Ferry connects you to all San Juan Islands and is part of the adventurous nature of the area. See here for ferry schedules or to purchase tickets.
Spend two nights at Rosario Resort[caption id="attachment_32890" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Beautiful views await you if you stay at the classic Rosario Resort. Photo by Rose Braverman CC BY[/caption]
The beautiful Rosario Resort was built in the Arts & Crafts style over 100 years ago by a Seattle shipbuilder. The building has been preserved well enough to make it on the National Register of Historic Places and the onsite Moran Museum takes you back in time with original furnishings and fixtures and ship displays. A room here would give you spectacular vistas of the surrounding islands and Cascade Bay.
Dinner reservations for two at the Inn at Ship Bay in Eastsound[caption id="attachment_31080" align="aligncenter" width="800"] A delicious seasonal arrangement from the Inn at Ship Bay. Photo courtesy of their Facebook Page[/caption]
Striving to offer only sustainably harvested seafood and hormone-free meats and poultry, the Restaurant and Inn at Ship Bay also enjoys heirloom plum and pear orchards as well as a vegetable garden near the 19th century farmhouse where the restaurant is located. Their whole concept is based on simple heritage; their sourdough bread is baked with a sourdough starter that is over a century old. Imagine dinning here Al Fresco which is possible during nice weather but the views are always unobstructed over the waters of Ship Bay.
Kayaking[caption id="attachment_31062" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Stake your claim from kayak over one of the 172 islands. Photo by Zack Kruzins CC BY[/caption]
Kayaking is simply one of the best ways to explore the San Juan Islands. Secret coves, tiny islands and splendid flora and fauna are best enjoyed from a boat, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned sea kayaker or a nervous newbie. Local outfitters would provide all the equipment and training necessary for you to enjoy a safe and beautiful experience.
Ferry over to Lopez Island and spend a night at the Edenwild Boutique Inn[caption id="attachment_31072" align="aligncenter" width="960"] The charming Edenwild Boutique Inn. Photo courtesy of their Facebook Page[/caption]
Picture sitting back on the cozy wrap-around porch and watching the sunset from the Edenwild Boutique Hotel. All nine of their rooms are completely unique and feature beautiful period details like antique soaking tubs and fireplaces. The next morning, you really shouldn’t miss taking a bike ride around the area following your locally-sourced breakfast.
Dinner at The Bay[caption id="attachment_31070" align="aligncenter" width="551"] Melt-in-your-mouth pepper crusted Ahi Tuna at the Bay Cafe. Photo courtesy of the Bay Cafe Facebook Page [/caption]
With the plethora of outdoor activities to partake in on the islands, you’ll be starving and ready for dinner at The Bay. This cozy and friendly restaurant would satisfy you with classic favorites like clam chowder, island grown green salads and seasonal seafood with a big emphasis on fresh and local. Hopefully the weather would be nice enough to enjoy their bay-side patio.
Wine tasting at Lopez Island Vineyard and Winery[caption id="attachment_31064" align="aligncenter" width="551"] The Perfect Pairing. Photo courtesy of the Lopez Island Vineyard and Winery Facebook page[/caption]
The Lopez Island Vineyard and Winery has been producing local wines since 1987. Completely family run, the grapes are all organically grown on a beautifully landscaped property with a focus on being both green and sustainable. A visit means trying several varieties of wines including the island-grown Siegerrebe and Madeline Angevine.[caption id="attachment_31136" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Lime Kiln Park on the San Juan Island. Photo by ryan harvey CC BY[/caption]
See more Island inspiration here: