12 Things to do on San Juan Island in Washington

Looking for your next PNW adventure? Check out the beautiful San Juan Island!

If you’re looking for things to do on San Juan Island, we’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to learn all about how to get to this incredible Washington island, dreamy accommodations, and–of course–what to do!

Getting to San Juan Island

Emily Mandagie standing with baby on an empty San Juan Island Interisland Ferry

You can get around the various islands via the convenient WSDOT ferry. It’s one of the most robust ferry systems in the United States!

Unless you’re departing from another island in the San Juan Islands, you can easily get to Friday Harbor from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal.

You can walk on, bike, or drive on to the ferry at varying costs. For a single adult passenger, it costs $15.85 to ride the ferry and about 1 hour to an hour and a half to get from Anacortes to Friday Harbor.

Note: Because of the busy summer season, we HIGHLY recommend you reserve your ferry ticket in advance. Your reservation is valid for 90 days after purchase!

Where to Stay on San Juan Island

Berty Mandagie and baby at the Friday Harbor House in San Juan Island in Washington State

Lucky for you, the area has a large range of accommodations, anywhere from luxury resorts to affordable campgrounds.

We stayed at the Friday Harbor House on our latest week-long trip to the San Juan Islands. It was perfect for our little adventurous family!

Tucked right into downtown, we could walk anywhere we wanted, and other parts of the island were just a short drive away. Plus, the view in the evening from the balcony is one of a kind!

Marina view from the Friday Harbor House on San Juan Island in Washington State

Here are our top recommendations for places to stay on San Juan Island in each category:

Resorts on San Juan Island: Roche Harbor Resort and Snug Harbor Resort offer a quintessential island experience with incredible sea views. For a more modern experience right in the center of town, book a stay at the Friday Harbor House.

Hotels on San Juan Island: The Discovery Inn is a quaint an affordable hotel near Friday Harbor. You can also find the perfect spot on VRBO, where you can filter through homes and cabins that accommodation dogs, children, etc!

Camping on San Juan Island: You have a few options between HipCamp spots (private glamping locations) and public use campgrounds. San Juan County Park has 25 campsites that are open year-round! Lakedale Resort also has luxury camping, including yurts and canvas tents!

1. Explore Downtown Friday Harbor

One of the most popular San Juan Island activities is exploring downtown Friday Harbor!

This is mainly because of its walkability (it’s right off of the ferry terminal!), historic buildings, epic views, and plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s a great first activity on your San Juan Island itinerary!

When in Friday Harbor, consider staying at the Friday Harbor House (rates start at $209 per night) or camp at Lakedale ($60 standard daily rate, classic campsite).

San Juan Island Sea Salt building exterior - Friday Harbor Downtown Shopping

While in the area, visit the San Juan Island Farmers Market, which runs Saturdays between April and October.

Need a gift idea? Stop by San Juan Island Sea Salt to pick up homemade goodies. They also have fresh cookies, baked daily!

2. Go Biking (or Ride Mopeds!)

Susie's Mopeds in Friday Harbor - Biking around the island

One of the best things to do on San Juan Island is explore by bike, as the island is extremely bikeable.

You can bring your own bike for the day because bikers can get on the WSDOT ferry to San Juan Island for $19.85).

Alternatively, you can go on a guided tour with Cycle San Juan or rent a bike from Discovery Adventure Tools to explore the island on your own.

Don’t forget to check out this Cyclist’s Guide for the safest and best experience in the area!

3. Lime Kiln Point State Park

Best Things To Do In Washington State - Visit San Juan Islands Lime Kiln State Park - TheMandagies.com

One of the coolest–and cheapest–things to do on San Juan Island is visit Lime Kiln Point State Park.

Lime Kiln Point State Park is a great place for whale watching, hiking, beachcombing, and picnicking!

Hike to the Orca Whale Watching Point, visit the historic Lime Kiln itself, or drive to the Lime Kiln Lighthouse to see if you can catch sight of orca, humpback, minke, and gray whales.

Don’t forget to pack your binoculars!

4. Go Hiking

You know we love PNW hiking, so here are some of our favorite hiking trails on San Juan Island for you to try out:

5. Stay at the Historic Roche Harbor Resort

Roche Harbor Hotel De Haro exterior from the formal gardens in San Juan Island in Washington State

The historic Roche Harbor Resort is a must-see attraction while visiting San Juan Island.

Known for its historic structures and rich history, delicious restaurants, spa, beautiful grounds/views, (and potentially being haunted!), Roche Harbor is a great place to visit!

While you can stay at the Hotel de Haro or historic cottages, Roche Harbor also serves as a popular wedding venue, family reunion destination, or romantic getaway in Washington.

6. Take a Kayaking Tour

Colorful kayak rentals on the waters of Rosario Beach on Orcas Island in Washington State

Kayaking is a wonderful way to explore the surrounding waters, as there are many ways to do it with various levels of expense and effort.

You can drop in your own kayak and go out for a day trip, rent a kayak and camp along the coastline, or go on a guided kayaking tour with Outdoor Odysseys.

Up for the DIY option? The San Juan County Park has a boat ramp for you to launch your kayak.

7. Go Beachcombing

Looking for a fun and FREE activity while on San Juan Island? Beachcombing and exploring tide pools is one of the easiest and cheapest activities for all ages while on the island.

Check out South Beach in American Camp National Park or Grandma’s Cove for a secluded beach with epic tide pools and swimming.

Don’t Forget: We have a free download for all your Pacific Northwest beach packing essentials!

8. Explore Local Farms

Westcott Bay Oyster Farm in San Juan Island in Washington State

If you’re looking for more of an insider experience while on the island, explore the local farms!

Westcott Bay Oyster Farm is the perfect one to visit, because of its delicious restaurant where you can try fresh oysters on the half shell.

During the summer, check out the self-serve farm stand at New Hannah Farm for organic groceries during your trip!

9. Enjoy some local art

Emily Mandagie walking in the San Juan Island Sculpture Park near Roche Harbor - San Juan Island, Washington State

Another way to get to know the island and the community is by enjoying some local art.

Check out the SJI Museum of Art (tickets cost $10 at the door) or San Juan Islands Sculpture Park & Nature Reserve (no entry fee, though donations are accepted).

10. Enjoy the San Juan Island County Fair

One of the most family-friendly things to do on San Juan Island is visit the County Fair!

The fiar occurs every August and just a few blocks from the center of Friday Harbor.

Here, you can enjoy exhibitions, local vendors, shows, and mouth watering food.

11. Join a Whale Watching Tour

Lucky for you, you’re in one of the best places in the world to go whale watching!

This is especially true because of the Southern Resident Orcas that live in the area. Currently, there are 74 whales in the pod!

To see orcas (among humpback, minke, and gray whales), check out San Juan Safari’s excursions to go on a whale watching tour!

12. Explore San Juan Island National Historical Park

Composed of 2,141 acres, San Juan Island National Historic Park is a beautiful area of the island. Here, you can see whales, birds, beautiful forests, and–of course–the Pacific Ocean!

While in the area, visit American Camp National Park, English Camp (which is annexed near Roche Harbor), South Beach, and Cattle Point Lighthouse.

Have you even been to this gorgeous Washington island? What are some of your favorite activities to do? Tell us in the comments below!


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