10 San Juan Island Must-Do's for First Timers - AdventureTripr

10 San Juan Island Must-Do's for First Timers

Spenser Czuleger · June 22, 2021

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The best things to do in the San Juan Islands.
The best things to do in the San Juan Islands.

You can only get to this Washington state gem by sea or by air. The San Juan Islands, located northwest of Seattle, are a collection of scenic islands including Orcas Island and San Juan Island. There are lots of things to do in these incredible islands. Keep on reading for the best of them!

Ferry

One of the best things to do in the San Juan Islands is how most people get to them. Take the ferry from Anacortes, WA and enjoy the sights you pass on the way. You’ll pass by islands, get to see the beautiful sights, and may even get to see whales and other marine wildlife. It’s one of the prettiest ferry rides you’ll probably ever take.

Whale Watching

Orca (or killer) whales live in the San Juan Islands year-round, and it's one of the best places in the world to see them in the wild.
Orca (or killer) whales live in the San Juan Islands year-round, and it's one of the best places in the world to see them in the wild.

The next best thing to do in the San Juans is to go whale watching. Head out on a tour and see the behemoths in the water. It’s a stunning experience you won’t soon forget! You may also see seals and other cool wildlife while you’re out, so be sure to take lots of photos.

Towns

There are a couple of scenic towns in the San Juans; Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor being the most well-known. These walkable communities are situated right on the water and have delicious restaurants, great shops, museums, and so much more to explore.

Kayaking

Adventure around the San Juans by kayak to see the jagged shoreline, unique wildlife, and get out on the water. If you’re lucky, you may see whales while you’re out, but even if you don’t, it’s still a fun way to spend your time!

RELATED: AdventureTripr San Juan Island Getaway

Seaplane ride

Most people arrive to the islands by ferry, but you can also take a private seaplane ride over. It’s faster and gives you amazing views of the area; you may even see the ferry from it! But even if you take the ferry over, nothing stops you from booking a seaplane tour around the islands. Take to the skies for a new angle on the area.

Beachcombing

A San Juan Island beach.
A San Juan Island beach.

With loads of beaches, there’s no shortage of beachcombing and tide pooling on the islands. Head out to see what you can find. Maybe you’ll find sea glass on your explorations, or maybe you’ll find some neat crabs under rocks or in tidepools. It’s a great activity for kids, or even for the adults. Make sure to not take anything, especially nothing allive, and to leave no trace!

Hiking

With lots of trails on the island, there are hikes for anyone of any skill. Take the kids out for a flat stroll on the sand, or climb to the highest point on Orcas Island where you’ll be rewarded with views of the Sound and Canada. 

Camping

When you book our San Juan Islands Trip, you'll stay in amazing glamping tents!
When you book our San Juan Islands Trip, you'll stay in amazing glamping tents!

Get closer to nature and go camping while you’re on the island. Reserve your campsite and pack a tent, stove, and whatever else you’ll need to spend a night under the stars. There are lots of scenic spots for San Juan Island camping, so depending on where you want to go, and what you want to be close to, there’ll be something for you.

Lavender Farms

Head to one of the island’s lavender farms to stroll along the lavender rows and take photos. Check out their products made from lavender, and enjoy lavender-based drinks and snacks while you’re there. Pets are also welcome at some of these farms!

Art

Finally, the islands have amazing art communities. From potters, to jewelry makers to painters to sculptors, and so many more, there’s bound to be art you’ll fall in love with for yourself. Check out some of the local galleries on the islands, or head to the farmer’s market to see what’s available there and buy something to take home to remind you of your adventures here.

There you have it! The 10 best things to do in the San Juan Islands. Be sure to take lots of photos and enjoy the time you have there. And if you want a personalized itinerary planned out for you, be sure to check out our San Juan Islands trip

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