The list of things to do in the San Juan Islands includes many rewarding activities. This group of islands off the coast of Washington State enjoys surprisingly great weather throughout the year, and this lends itself well to outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Of course, many visitors come to enjoy water-based activities, as there is water all around. Whether you find yourself on dry land or out on the water during your San Juan Islands vacation, finding good ways to spend your time won't be hard, and if you're just coming to relax, these islands are prime places to kick back and forget about your worries.
If you like to go boating, then the San Juan Islands can make an ideal vacation destination. Boat charters offer excursions of all kinds in the San Juans, and you can always bring your own boat and cruise the area waters. Single-day and multi-day boat cruises in the San Juan Islands often involve a variety of fun activities, such as wildlife viewing. Regardless of your intentions, the stunning Pacific Northwest scenery will provide a beautiful backdrop.
Many boating excursions in the San Juan Islands have whale watching as a main focus. The waters surrounding the islands are populated by both minke and orca whales, with the orcas being the whales that most people come to see. June through September is the peak whale watching season in the San Juans, and you can arrange excursions in the islands and on the Washington mainland.
Fishing is one of the most popular things to do in the San Juan Islands, and as is true of many other activities, it can be enjoyed year round. Saltwater fishing reigns supreme, though you can also hit some lakes on some of the islands and do some freshwater fishing. Possible catches include salmon, cod, and halibut, and you might interest yourself in some crabbing or prawn hunting. Fishing charters are in good supply on the main tourist islands in the San Juans, and they can help you maximize your angling experience.
Few destinations in the world rival the San Juan Islands when it comes to sea kayaking. From your kayak, you can take in the spectacular scenery, keep an eye out for whales and other creatures, and stop at islands or islets to do some onshore exploring. Kayaking excursions are easy to arrange in the San Juans, especially if you are visiting between mid-May and September, and they can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days or more.
Camping in the San Juan Islands is something that each and every camping enthusiast should enjoy. Once again, the spectacular scenery provides an awe-inspiring backdrop, and the relatively good year round weather means that you can camp throughout the year. You can camp at parks such as Lime Kiln Point State Park when visiting the San Juans, and there are campsites at resorts, too. Some of the campgrounds have campsites with tents or canvas huts that are already set up, so you don't have to bring your own gear, and depending on which campground you choose, it might also be possible to stay in a cabin or cottage.
Mount Constitution is one of the top San Juan Islands attractions. This is largely due to the fact that this highest point in the San Juans offers amazing views from its relatively high summit. Found in Moran State Park, Mount Constitution rises to an elevation of more than 2,400 feet above sea level, and on clear days, you can see Mount Rainier on the distant mainland. The hike up is definitely worth it, and you won't want to forget your camera.
Should you be interested in adding some cultural pursuits to your list of things to do in the San Juan Islands, you can consider a museum visit. The Whale Museum at Friday Harbor is among the museums in the San Juans that merits a visit, and should you be spending time on San Juan Island, you might also visit the San Juan Historical Park. Orcas Island offers the Orcas Island Historical Museum, and it's just one more cultural attraction worth adding to your list. The museum options are good, and if nothing else, they can make great rainy day attractions.
San Juan Islands tours offer something to fit a wide range of interests, so you might keep them in mind when planning your trip. The whale watching tours are especially popular, though they aren't the only tours worth considering. A cycling tour in the San Juans can be very rewarding, for example, and you can learn more about the islands themselves on a narrated excursion that travels through the area waters. You can arrange San Juan Islands tours in a number of places around the Pacific Northwest region such as Seattle or Bellingham, so it's not necessary to get to the islands first.
Image: San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau