If San Juan Island is Washington’s Martha’s Vineyard, then Friday Harbor plays Vineyard Haven. You’ll discover plenty of traditional dockside dining featuring Dungeness crab and oysters grilled to order. The Bluff at Friday Harbor House goes haut coastal cuisine with flash fried kelp and calamari featuring locally harvested bull kelp. Numerous ice cream shops serve Lopez Island Ice Cream, sweetening the mood toward island life.
Mornings here begin at Rocky Bay Cafe, followed by exploration of the harbour village to check out the maritime aesthetic inside Mystical Mermaid, the lavender essence at Pelindaba Lavender and kite selections at the eclectic Toy Box. Pick up a white truffle oil slice of pizza at the Farmers Market. Should you miss this Saturday institution, open year-round at the Brickworks, make the effort to visit Bakery San Juan, located near the airport, about five miles from town.
Located four miles outside of Friday Harbor, Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes provides every type of rustic lodging imaginable from lodge rooms, log cabins, platform tents and campsites to the newest addition, a 1978 Excella Airstream trailer. Reminiscent of a 1950’s resort, Lakedale features stocked lakes, self-powered boat rentals and one of the best “king of the raft” platforms around.
No trip to the San Juan Islands would be complete without exploring the great Salish Sea, aka Puget Sound. The University of Washington recognized the rich tidal zone ecology when zoology professor Trevor Kinkaid established the Friday Harbor Laboratories in 1903. A visit to this marine biology centre provides an ideal introduction to the Cascadia marine biosphere. The San Juan Nature Institute also offers a prolific schedule of lectures, workshops and other events.
Follow your inspired academic visit with a paddle, sail or marine mammal tour from one of numerous island outfitters located in Friday Harbor. San Juan Safaris offers group and charter whale watching excursions, with an excellent record for spotting orcas through November.
Kayaking is king on Orcas Island. East Sound and West Sound provide gentle waters ideal for novice kayakers. Several outfitters feature some variation of culinary kayaking excursion. Outdoor Odysseys and Discovery Sea Kayaks feature three to five-day beer or wine tasting trips throughout the 172-island archipelago, departing from Orcas.