In 2016, I had lived in Washington 12 Years but I had never been to any of the islands in the Pacific Northwest. The fall of 2016, I took a girl’s trip to San Juan Island, Friday Harbor with my daughters and Mother in Law while my hubby and his dad went on a hunting trip.
We took the ferry from Anacortes Saturday morning to San Juan Island. My daughters were 8 & 10 years old at the time, and it was their first time on the ferry which was such a fantastic experience for them, they absolutely loved it!
While cruising on the ferry, my Mother in Law was visiting with another couple who raved about the Whale Watching from San Juan Island. As soon as we drove off the ferry, we parked, bought ice cream, and booked our whale watching tour for Sunday.
A couple years later I took my mom to Friday Harbor for a couple days, and she loved it too! The photos span over 2016 – 2018 and it is my plan to go again this summer or fall, so I will keep on adding to those experiences and photos.
One of the things I LOVE about traveling to the same place more than once is the opportunity to get photos in the same places as the girls grow.
The first photo was taken in 2016, and at the time, Julie was mad at us for who knows why? We told her we wanted a photo of her in front of this yacht, and we did not tell her why. The REAL reason is because we thought it was funny ? that she posed in front of a Yacht that was named “Tuff Day” while she looked so mad. ?
2018 We went back again, told Julie the story, and this time she gladly posed as a happy 12-year-old. It is my goal to get back there this summer with the girls and find that Yacht in Roche Harbor and take our every two years photo, once again!
Cool Fact… Roche Harbor is only a 5 miles from Vancouver Island :). Check out this blog on Victoria B.C for more info on Vancouver Island.
The island itself is not very big, only around 55 square miles. We took a drive around the whole island and saw the English and Britsh Camp (Pig and the Potato war) and found Roche Harbor.
We loved Roche Harbor, and I highly recommend putting it on your hit list! It is located only 5 miles from Victoria Canada and had cute little shopping boutiques and restaurants. We walked the harbor and saw loads of boats and yachts. The residents on the island, in general, were friendly, happy and the whole place was very quiet and peaceful.
The San Juan Islands are in a rain shadow, so they get significantly less rainfall than most of western Washington, and the temperature stays more consistent. #islandlife
San Juan Island is the “Capital” of San Juan County.
Most of the action happens in Friday Harbor right off of the ferry, so you can just as easily and inexpensively walk on the DOT ferry and get the full San Juan Island experience.
Right off the boat docks are fun places to just hang out and grassy areas with these cool totem poles. Of course we had to take photos.
3501 West Valley Rd.Friday Harbor, WA 98250
San Juan Island
There is an Alpaca Farm. You just park and visit with them at your leisure. Alpaca’s are too cute. The Alpaca farm is a 70 Acre farm, you can do a self guided tour or you can take a guided tour.
The Lavender Farm is a fun place to visit. There was more lavender there than I have seen in my life, a sea of Lavender! The store sells everything from oil, cleaning products, hand soap (which I love) and even artwork. You can also take you on a tour and they will show you how they processes the lavender. I left with a couple small lavender plants and to this day I still have them thriving in my yard.
The first trip we stayed in the Friday Harbor Suites, which was close enough to Friday Harbor that it was within walking distance. It has a pool for the kids, and it was a cute hotel. I would rate it a 3.5.
On another visit, we stayed in The Earthbox Inn, and I liked that location a little bit more. It was closer to the ferry and downtown area, and another perk was that they had bikes for us to use. They had a really nice pool and outdoor lounge area with a coffee shop next to the pool. If you are on your own or with a family this is a excellent place to stay. I would rate it a 5 stars!
On our next visit we are going to try to make a reservation somewhere else. I am searching different options now, and will update and do a review after the stay!
If you’re going to tour the island and want to just walk onto the Ferry instead of taking you vehicle you can rent these fun Mopeds at Susie’s Mopeds
Fun fact, if you’re a fan of old Rock and Roll, Steve Miller had a mansion there. He was a regular around town, but I have heard he has since moved. I just missed him, I guess!
I have only been on this one whale watching tour, and while I am sure they are all similar, it was the tour guides that made this a once in a lifetime experience for us! When we arrived at the boat for our whale watching trip, they loaded us up and headed out to the open waters. Our lead tour guide’s name was John Boyd, who lived on the Island for 20 + years. He was a happy and funny guy! John explained that seeing whales is not always guaranteed, so if we miss out on them, the least he can do is provide us a tour of the San Juan Islands and its history.
All the whale watching boats from America and Canada keep in contact with each other to share sightings. About 1/2 hour into our tour, a Canadian boat found the herd just north of us, so they shared the location, and we headed north! We went to our spot, stopped the engine, and sat, then before we knew it, the Orcas surrounded us. They were everywhere! They did jumps and tricks and had fun circling all the boats. It was like they were there to show off. A fascinating part of the “show” was that John knew which Orca was with what pod and knew their name… I guess they are old friends. I want his job … Hmmm.’
The San Juan region has three Orca pods, J, K & L—the “Southern Residents”. There are around more from spring through fall.
If you want to go on a Whale Watching tour, then I would highly suggest John and his crew!
If you are not on a budget and want to go first-class, you can take a Water plane to the Island too.
Ferry Terminal Addresses:
Anacortes: 2100 Ferry Terminal Road, Anacortes, WA 98221
Lopez: 1 Ferry Road, Lopez Island, WA 98261
Shaw: 12 Blind Bay Road, Shaw Island, WA 98286
Orcas: 8368 Orcas Road, Orcas Island, WA 98280
Friday Harbor (San Juan Island): 91 Front Street, Friday Harbor, WA 98250