Celebrate Spring: San Juan Islands

Island hopping in the San Juan Islands, surrounded by the romance and expanse of the Salish Sea, is a Pacific Northwest maritime dream come true. These islands offer endless beach sunsets, quaint villages, and shops full of artisan and handcrafted goods off the coast of Washington State. Plan a trip to explore action-packed activities, then mix and match these suggestions for a memorable wellness excursion.

Explore by Boat

The San Juan Islands are a hop, skip, and jump from Eddyline Kayak’s headquarters in Burlington, WA, providing many opportunities for exploring the islands by personal watercraft. Each island has individual kayaking routes for leisurely day trips or more advanced multi-day adventures. Always plan boating trips with experienced paddlers, clubs, or hired guides. Outfitters like Crystal Seas Kayaking, Discovery Sea Kayaks, and San Juan Outfitters can arrange guided trips. For more inspiration, visit the San Juan Islands paddling guide, or read Audrey Sutherland’s book, Paddling North, about her solo kayak journey through the inside passage. Audrey is a rugged and adventurous traveler, embodying all the independence of the San Juan Islands culture.

Pro tip: Remember that the weather can turn at the drop of a hat. Have the number of a water taxi handy and bring lots of protective outer layers, even mid-summer, just in case. Violent seas, rain, and high winds can happen anytime.

Explore by Bike

The San Juan Islands are considered an outstanding cycling destination. Biking through breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and beautiful shoreline makes for exciting rides. Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands keep up-to-date biking maps for their respective terrains. Highlights of Lopez Island include vineyards, Spencer Spit State Park, and the Shark Reef Sanctuary. Check out the Eastsound, Mount Constitution, and Moran State Park on Orcas Island. San Juan Island holds the most points of interest by bike, including Roche Harbor Resort, Sculpture Park, Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, and Jakle’s Lagoon. Want a guided tour? Explore REI’s weekend cycling trips or locally guided Terra Trek’s biking inn to inn 5-day adventure.

Take a Ferry Ride or Plane

If paddling or biking through the islands isn’t your cup of tea, soar through the waters on a ferry. Many boats depart multiple times a day from the mainland and between islands. Most stops have bed and breakfasts, hotels, and Airbnb’s near the ferry ports.  Visit the San Juan Islands ferry guide for more on departure and arrival times. Because bridges do not connect the islands, all the inhabited islands have airfields creating an easy and luxurious way to explore. Whether celebrating a honeymoon, anniversary, or birthday, consider chartering a flight for a grand island-hopping excursion.

Stay Overnight

Catch a ferry from mainland Anacortes and head for Orcas Island. Tucked in a sheltered nook on the island’s southeast corner, Doe Bay Resort and Retreat offers varying accommodations from low-key to luxurious.  Find your center and indulge in spa amenities, including soaking pools, a massage studio, and a yoga space. Relax in the garden with live music or have a bite to eat at the cafe. With remote working incentives and artists in residency events, Doe Bay is a quiet throw-back to simpler times and a modern restorative oasis for professionals.  

About the Author

KM Collins
Hailing from the Oregon Territory, K.M. Collins is a geologist-gone-writer. Five generations deep in PNW hydrology, her Grandmothers were daughters of the White Salmon, Clackamas, and Willamette Rivers. Though rowing is her favorite whitewater pastime, she doesn’t discriminate when it comes to paddle sports. Roller skating, snowboarding, and shuttling by bike rank among her favorite land-based activities.

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