San Juan Islands, 4 days 3 nights
Being situated in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains, San Juan Islands are known as a “dry pocket” of coastal Washington state – this is why I chose it for a short getaway in mid-April of 2019, when it was raining almost non-stop in Seattle. This is a very relaxed, slow pace itinerary covering only San Juan and Orcas islands.
My itinerary (4 days 3 nights):
- Day 1 – San Juan Island (American Camp, Cattle Point, night at Friday Harbor’s Argyle House)
- Day 2 – San Juan Island (Friday Harbor downtown, Alpaca farm, Lime Kiln Point State Park, San Juan County Park, Roche Harbor, night at Lakedale Resort)
- Day 3 – San Juan Island (Lavender Farm), ferry to Orcas, Orcas Island (Orcas Island Pottery, Eastsound, night at Rosario Resort)
- Day 4 – Orcas Island (Mt Constitution, Olga, Doe Bay), ferry back to Anacortes, short stop at Cap Sante State park on the way home
I arrived to Friday Harbor on Friday (no pun intended), on an early afternoon ferry, and spent the rest of the day enjoying the magnificent scenery of the southern tip of the island, from American Camp to the Cattle Point Lighthouse. It’s my favorite part of San Juan Island, I love the dramatic coastal landscape, the sweeping ocean vistas, and the foxes that you can almost certainly encounter here.
The next day (Saturday) it was raining – even on San Juans – so I decided to take it easy and spend some leisurely time exploring the souvenir shops of Friday Harbor. Fortunately, souvenir shopping itself is one of my favorite pastimes, so I was able to entertain myself for a couple of hours, and then had some yummy oysters and desert at Downriggers restaurant with nice harbor views.
After that I headed to the Krystal Acres Alpaca farm, where it was raining really hard (poor wet alpacas). But alpacas are super cute even when wet, plus the farm has a lovely shop with quality alpaca goodies, so it was totally worth it.
When I was done with alpacas, it was still raining. I reviewed my options and decided to head back to Friday Harbor for the Whale Museum, which turned out to be really nice – informative, educational, and another perfect stop on my rainy day itinerary.
Later in the afternoon the weather made a sudden turn, and it was time for some scenery again. I drove to the Lyme Kiln Point State Park and strolled along the coast under bright blue sky. No luck seeing orcas (after visiting the museum, I was really hoping for it), so I consoled myself by taking lots and lots of lighthouse shots.
A short drive up the road there’s another scenic spot with views, San Huan County Park. Pretty much the same scenery as at Lime Kiln – minus the lighthouse.
I finished my day at Roshe Harbor (skipping the popular English Camp, which is along the way, but I’ve been there before). The tiny village at the northern tip of the island is picture-perfect, I’d love to spend the night there sometime.
On the third day, before catching the 11:30 ferry to Orcas, I dropped by the Pelindaba Lavender Farm, mainly to visit their gift shop (the fields were not in season at that time of year). Again, didn’t leave empty-handed. Nice conclusion to my stay on San Juan. Next stop – Orcas Island.
The ferry ride between San Juan and Orcas (about 40 minutes) is very scenic in its second half. It was rather cold, but not raining, so I took the scenery in from the open deck. Once on Orcas, I headed to the pottery shop on West Beach – I read good stuff about it and it didn’t disappoint. Everything about this place is magical – from the setting in the middle of the woods, to the beautiful garden with amazing outdoor pottery display, and, of course, all the things inside. I love pottery from every part of the world, but only allow myself to buy it when on a road trip in North America – otherwise it’s too heavy for me to carry, and there’s always a chance of it breaking during the flight. So, I bought some pottery here.
I spent my afternoon exploring Eastsound village – souvenir shops and waterfront dining again (never get tired of this), and the bay here is very scenic. I finished my day at Rosario Resort, which is a hotel, a spa, a museum, and a fine dining experience all in one. It was my first time here, and I will definitely be back.
Monday morning started with the drive up to the top of Mount Constitution. The weather cooperated, and the view was as magnificent as I remembered from my previous visit. Then I headed in the direction of Doe Bay, making a short stop in Olga to visit a local artists co-op. I wasn’t really planning on going into hot-tubs at Doe Bay, but I still had some time on my hands before the ferry and couldn’t think of anything better to do, so I went – and it was wonderful. I’ve stayed at Doe Bay a few years back and wasn’t much impressed by the hot-tubs then (probably because it was too crowded during a long weekend). Apparently, a weekday makes all the difference. Of course, it’s not a mineral spring, and even if it were – no one does mineral springs better than Japanese, but in terms of location and surrounding scenery a place like this in Japan would make for a highly regarded onsen.
Before I knew it, it was time to go back to the ferry. I said goodbye to beautiful Orcas Island, promising to be back again. On my way back home I made a quick stop at Cap Sante park at Anacortes and caught some glimpses of the sunset.