Roche Harbor is a sheltered bay located on the northwest tip of San Juan Island. Next to the busy port of Friday Harbor, it is the most popular area of the island to stay, boasting a few places to stay, including the lovely Roche Harbor Resort. This is among the finest of the San Juan Island hotels, and offers traditional hotel rooms and suites as well as vacation rentals in the form of two- to three-bedroom condos and cottages with fully equipped kitchens. These deluxe units allow small groups and those on family vacations to enjoy all the things to do in Roche Harbor Washington while maintaining independence and privacy.
The European history of Roche Harbor began when Spanish mariners sailed into the sheltered bay. No town existed here until the 1880s when the largest and richest deposit of lime in the Northwest was discovered. It quickly became a typical "company town" owned by the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Company. Vestiges of this history can still be viewed at Lime Kiln Point, located along the western coast a few miles south, where one of the historic lime kilns has been restored.
One of the most popular things to do in Roche Harbor Washington is kayaking. Some of the best sea kayaking in the entire Pacific Northwest is found here, especially on the beaches of San Juan Historical Park, which lies along the harbor's northern shore. Another park of the same name is on the far southern tip of the island and provides more superb kayaking. There are beaching sites, so you can come ashore for a picnic lunch and to do a little tide pooling during your kayak tours.
Roche Harbor Marina
Boating is among the things to do in Roche Harbor Washington and there is a large marina here. Although slightly smaller than the one at Friday Harbor, it has slips for nearly 400 vessels and can handle boats as long as 150 feet. Some visitors come in their own boats, and this is a designated entry point for pleasure boats that come from Canada. Vancouver Island and British Columbia are only about ten miles away and the border between the two countries is just a couple miles offshore. There is a customs dock with agents on duty during the summer months. If you arrive at another time of year, you must call from the dock for a customs agent. This is also a main port for operators who offer whale watching cruises and fishing charters.
There is a general aviation Roche Harbor airport suitable only for flights of small private and charter aircraft. If you do fly in, you can actually walk to the village. The harbor itself is also a place where seaplanes land. You can drive here if you've brought your car on one of the ferries that dock in Friday Harbor, and the island is small enough that you can cycle here from Friday Harbor. The island is only about fifteen miles long and five miles wide, so cycling can take you to just about every one of the attractions the island has to offer.