San Juan Islands Boaters Must-See List
These are special places to go and great things to do that our years of cruising have rewarded us with. Some of the very best places are walks or hikes that are off the beaten path and seldom visited. I have listed them in somewhat of a great circle to help you stay oriented, but you will not be able to visit all of them in one day. I suggest that you mark them on a paper map or chart for later reference.
Check out these places too. Not really must see places but exploring and gunkholing places. little coves and back doors
#1 Spend at Least Half a Day at Friday Harbor
While technically not off the beaten path, nor seldom visited, Friday Harbor must be listed. If you only have time for one choice, make it a visit to Friday Harbor, even if just for a few hours. Arrive around noon when marina slips are being vacated from the day before. Walk up the stairs and go to the whale museum. Circle Spring Street and the core area on foot, and visit the many boutiques, bistros, and souvenir shops. If you stop by on a Saturday, there is a Saturday Market at the Brickyard. Shop at Kings Market for all you need for a special meal on board or choose from one of the many restaurants all within a short walk. Walk to the end of Spring Street landing pier and look at the local sea creatures in the huge saltwater aquarium.
While out on the wharf, watch seaplanes land and take off. Stay long enough to watch a 460-foot, 5,000-ton ferry expertly pull into the terminal next to you. Check your watch; you don't want to miss the sunset bus tour to Lime Kiln Point State Park. San Juan Transit van/bus loads alongside the ferry terminal parking lanes and leaves promptly each evening one hour before sunset, delivering passengers to Lime Kiln Park parking lot in time to watch the sun set over Vancouver Island and Haro Strait. Be sure to bring your camera; you may be fortunate and catch an Orca breaching in the evening sun. San Juan Transit will have you back to Friday Harbor in time for your late dinner.
|Spring Street (main st) Friday Harbor|
The next morning, if you have an inkling to go for a free ferry ride, check the schedules and go as a foot passenger. Simply walk on, using the foot passenger lane, while cars are being loaded. Eat breakfast onboard, ride to Orcas Landing, do some shopping, and then ride the opposite direction ferry back to Friday Harbor.
If you are more adventurous, bring your bicycle and spend the day riding around Orcas, Lopez, or Shaw Island; your boat will be waiting in your slip when you return. Ferry rides for foot and bicycle riders are free in the inner islands. There is a fee only when departing from Anacortes.