The San Juan Islands are a great day trip from Seattle or vacation destination located in Washington State. A series on islets and islands in the area where the Strait of San Juan de Fuca meets the Puget Sound and intersects with the Georgia Strait is where the San Juan Islands are, just south of the border of Canada.
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands were once seasonal homes for local Indians. The Songish, Samish, and the Lummi tribe has used the San Juan Islands as summer homes. These San Juans have four major islands which are accessible via ferry service from the Washington State Ferries and by the Victoria Clipper. The four islands are Orcas Island, San Juan Island, Shaw Island, and Lopez Island.
San Juan Island is the second largest of the Islands, and is home to Friday Harbor, which is a center of activity on the waterfront. Whale watching tours are a popular activity here, either from shore or on a whale-watching excursion.
There are also old army camps, at both ends of San Juan Island, one British, the other American. These two camps make up the San Juan National Historical Park. There are formal gardens, educational centers with a San Juan Islands map, and renovated buildings to help the visitor get a feel for life during the mid-1800's.
Friday Harbor is not only a waterfront, but it is also a town on San Juan Island. There are 500 slips in the Marina at Friday Harbor, and there is room for 150 boats of any size. The Marina at Friday Harbor is open year-round.
The largest of the island is Orcas Island. Most of the towns on Orcas Island are of modest size. This idyllic location is where many of the well heeled homeowners of the San Juan Islands live. Real estate prices have grown, and there is a struggle by longtime residents to find affordable housing due to this.
One of the top attractions on Orcas Island is Mount Constitution. There is an incredible view from the top of the half-mile peak, so you can create a picture of the San Juan Islands map in your head. Part of Moran State Park, you can enjoy fishing, camping, hiking and swimming on Mount Constitution, and the 5,000 square acres of wooded area are great places to do this.
The smaller islands, Lopez and Shaw, are also accessible by the Washington State Ferries. Lopez Island is flat and a favorite of bicyclists, and a well-known spot for boaters, with its waterfront parks and sheltered bays.
If you"re coming to Seattle, take Interstate 5 North and take the 230 exit. Go on highway 20 towards Anacortes, where you will see signs for the San Juan Ferry Terminal. Be sure to bring a San Juan Islands map so you can figure out how to get around.
Shaw Island is secluded and isolated. There are many campsites, but there is not much is the way of restaurants or other facilities. Until about 20 years ago, not a lot of visitors went to the San Juan Islands. Now, with improved service on the Washington State Ferries, any visitor to the Pacific Northwest can get to the San Juan Islands quickly and easily.