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12 Citys, Marinas, Resorts and Fuel Docks You Should Know

When cruising or planning your cruise, you need to know where civilization and resources are located. The listings below include essential San Juan area places where you can get fuel and grocery's and spend the night. These are not the only resorts and villages for visiting and no parks are listed but all places listed should be in your personal cruising guide and even marked on your maps or charts.

  • Friday Harbor
  • Deer Harbor
  • Roche Harbor
  • Rosario
  • Fisherman Bay
  • West Beach
  • Blakely's
  • Cap Sante in Anacortes
  • Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham
  • La Conner
  • Eastsound
  • Orcas Landing
  • West Sound
Added 9/4/17
  • Deception Pass - Cornet Bay

For parks only try this list! >>  Parks, parks and more parks in the San Juan Islands

San Juan Island area fuel and park map
Details below
San Juan island's area map with labels locating tourist sites
 Excuse the garish labels, but if you wants to read-em - you needs to see-em.
Click on pic to make it bigger!

       Friday Harbor     
Without a doubt, the premier destination in the San Juans. Friday Harbor is the largest city, and center of island life. You can fix your boat, fill your stomach, visit customs, or grab a ferry back to the mainland. Restaurants, nightlife, provisions, are all within a short walk of your boat. Rent a slip or anchor out and use the dinghy dock. Spend the day, spend the night, just don't forget to pick up fuel and ice when you depart.
Friday Harbor marina photo from shore
Friday Harbor
    Deer Harbor    
Marina and fuel dock plus a small deli grocery on the wharf pretty much sums up what most boaters will want. They have overnight slips but in the summer will likely be reserved in advance.  There is a county dock  adjacent to the fuel dock for your use; at the end of the wharf are restrooms and a laundry. The large bay has room to anchor anytime.  Deer Harbor is very close to Jones Island,  so is the obvious choice when making a run for ice or an expensive bottle of cheap wine. Just kidding, they  have expensive bottles of expensive wine also.

     Roche Harbor    
Rivaling Friday Harbor as a premier destination, only without the city or repair facility's, Roche Harbor is another destination you should not miss.  We have found that although we prefer the State Parks, after a week of camping we like to visit Roche for showers, a good restaurant meal, and provisioning. The well stocked grocery at the top of the wharf shares the building with a nice cafe where you can dine overlooking the huge marina.  You can use the new county dock, two dinghy docks, or contact the Roche Harbor Master for a slip.
Roche Harbor has a customs float on the very end float and is where you will need to check in upon returning from Canada
Don't miss visiting the Sculpture Garden, and nearby Garrison Bay, where you can go ashore at English Camp for a little history. Anchoring room is plentiful for even the large fourth of July Fireworks display.
Roche Harbor airplane dock
Passengers waiting for the Sea Plane (landing in distance) on an overcast day at Roche

Rosario Resort on Orcas Island shuffleboard

Rosario Resort Marina on Orcas IslandShuffle Board at Rosario

Rosario once was a private residence, and the original mansion is now used as a museum and  restaurant. When visiting don't be surprised to see large groups attending weddings and other events. The semi-natural bay has been turned into a small marina with transient rental slips, and anchor buoys off shore. On the float is a fuel dock, nestled on the manicured lawns are tame deer, a cafe and small grocery and gift store. Stop for an hour, a day, or overnight   Visiting Rosario is the one place your friends will ask you about, it seems to have developed a mystique that has traveled to non boaters.

 Rosario Marina    

   Fisherman Bay   
Located on the west side of Lopez Island just a skip and jump from Friday Harbor, this bay is very protected and contains two marinas, with guest slips, fuel, grocery's, restaurant, and  marine repair. The channel leading in is curvy and shallow at lower tides so pay attention to aids, slow down and watch your depth sounder. A 3/4 + mile walk takes you into Lopez village for more good eats, groceries and a museum.  If you're arriving via Cattle Pass from the Strait of Juan De Fuca, Fisherman Bay is your first civilized refuge and fueling point.

   West Beach Resort   
Located on the North shore of Orcas island, West Beach is open all year, has slips, cabins to rent, anchor buoys, fuel, and a decently stocked store at the top of the wharf where they bake their own waffle cones.  Close enough to Sucia to make  quick beer and ice runs possible, but it's hard to spot and easy to miss. Use your field glasses and maps.

General store and marina just inside Peavine Pass on Blakely Island. A good easy place to pull into for fuel or provisions. They offer transient moorage slips in their protected little bay. My family's favorite stop for ice cream and a place to stretch the legs. New management may have changed some. The island is private, you will need to stay on the marina and store property.

   Cap Sante in Anacortes   
Cap Sante is where most cruisers to the San Juans begin there water journey. They offer a sling hoist for smaller boats, and a full size travel lift for bigger yachts and sailboat mast stepping. The auto parking lot is free but if you bring a trailer or motor home you will be in the pay a day parking lot where you can stay until your wallet is empty. A very short walk is Safeway and West Marine plus all the rest of downtown Anacortes. At the marina is overnight transient moorage (space available) and day slips for a few hours so you can run to the store. Gas and diesel plus a pump out is there too. Outside the breakwater it's common to see boats anchored, watch for thin water at low tide.
Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes

   Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham   
For anyone trailering to the San Juans, Squalicum Harbor is the place to go bar none, in fact Bellingham is a great destination and overnight stop. It is also your closest access to Sucia, and the Gulf Islands. Many guest  moorings are available,and all boat yard services for any repairs from do it your self to complete rebuilds may be completed in the boat yards. The port boasts a four lane all tide launch ramp with long term free parking. This is the only free long term parking we know of.  For a hassle free vacation, Squalicum Harbor is the place to start and end your cruise.  Believe it!
Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham

   La Conner   
La Conner is on the Swinomish Channel near the south end.  Though not part of the San Juans this often used Deception Pass bypass route needs to be in your knowledge base. The city provides overnight guest docks for a nominal fee, has fuel available and main street with restaurants, groceries and quaint shops  is just feet from your boat. Stop here for a quick lunch or spend some time.  Remember when cruising, its not the destination that's important, it's the stops and places on the way to the destination that are memorable.  La Conner should be on your short list.

Meanwhile back in the San Juans, the city of Eastsound at the far north end of East Sound on Orcas Island needs to be visited.  If you are stopping at  near by Rosario Resort, plan some time to run up to Eastsound or make it your overnight stop. The county maintains a nice float for visitors but not overnighting, there is plenty of room for anchoring though ,and running over to the dock in your dinghy.  Its a short and enjoyable walk into this bustling little biggest town on Orcas Island where you will find shops, groceries and a distinct artist atmosphere.

Orcas Landing
You need to add Orcas Landing to your list, most likely you will drive by and miss it completely because it is right next to the ferry terminal.  I avoid ferry's and so should you, but the short term, 30 minute dock is a handy crossroads and pit stop, at the top of the plank is ice and groceries.  Across the street is a public bathroom.  Expect auto and pedestrian traffic lining up to catch the ferry. The float is unprotected and your boat will be battered by waves and wakes while tied up.  We always try to tie up on the inside which helps a little.

West Sound
There's not much up here at the top of West Sound except West Sound Marina where you can get fuel and hauled out for repairs. Next door is the West Sound County Dock that you can use for day visits and easy access to Deer Harbor Rd running along the shore. There are no longer any stores or restaurants. If you are heading out to hike up Turtleback Mountain, the county dock is your best and closest (1.25 mi ) parking spot.  (I was informed in 2019 that a restaurant has again opened across from dock)
  Cornet Bay - Deception Pass  
   Added to list 9/4/17
After letting the dust settle for some years and then re-reading this post, I realized I made an error in not including Cornet Bay. If I were to rank my twelve (thirteen now) choices, Cornet Bay would be in the top six, and here is why.

  1. Cornet Bay boat ramp is one of the three primary access points to the San Juans, that alone should have put it on the list, my oversight. click here for boat ramp list
  2. It's a fantastic place to visit, or wait for slack water in the pass, or just wait out bad weather.
  3. It has the largest transient park dock in the San Juan cruising area.
  4. Fuel, ice, and groceries are all available in Cornet Bay.
  5. It is Washington's most visited park for good reason.

That's it for my picks of places to know and go
As I've said, there are many other resorts and great stops, these are my picks that will help you keep provisions on board, fuel in your tank, and access to the San Juan Islands.