Talk to ten San Juan Island cruisers and you will get ten different answers to the question, "What's the best place to go or thing to do in the San Juan's." Each will be correct, mostly. To support their answers, they will offer first-hand exciting personal experiences. That is why you must gather the best information, inject your wants and quirks, and then chart your own course to the San Juan's.
Our experiences and local
knowledge have been earned the old-fashioned way – one cruise at a time. Sailing,
hiking, biking and gunkholing, all while immersed in nature has been our
This website is a compilation of our
travels in five sailboats and two trawlers spanning over two decades.
Along the way we published a cruising
guide, “San Juan Islands Cruise Guide,” followed later with a Land and Sea Guidebook, “San Juan Islands Travel Guide.” My goal
for this website and these books is to help boaters, travelers, sailors, and families
enjoy the good times we have enjoyed for many years.
What is the best five-day itinerary? That's like asking what's the best color. But there are certain things that our experience and local knowledge will help with. Sometimes, one just needs a little push in the right direction to get on the right tack, so to speak. It is impossible in an essay or article to cover everything important to everybody or all the possible places to go. However, this website does cover every state park, every county park, every public dock, and much much more. You will find many links to pictures and specific posts, all composed for San Juan Island boaters. Be sure, while reading to click the links and follow your interests. Be sure to use the search box at the top of this page on the left side.
To help you muddle through this dilemma and provide some interesting reading, please come along with us on our summer cruise in the San Juan Islands. Of course, you will be taking your own boat since ours is full.
Today, we use our laptop as a chart plotter, I only use the GPS function. The program was free online Free chart plotter software but I had to buy a USB antenna for $19.95. You can get by with a small handheld GPS or even your cell phone but I enjoy the big screen. I don't want you to get lost if we get separated, or your battery is dead, so you should pick up a paper chart and a compass. chart #18421 I carry a colorful roadmap with us as well.
Let's get on the same page and assume this is your first boat trip to the San Juan's, and you are in a trailerable sailboat with a 5-6 mph speed. There are five or six starting points we have used but only three are preferred. They are Cornet Bay in Deception Pass, Cap Sante in Anacortes or Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham. If you have a fast powerboat or are coming up from the Seattle direction you will want to make time and distance adjustments. We will plan to sleep on board but use bathrooms on shore. Okay, let's go. ----- We have narrowed it down to about twenty parks to choose from for the first night, and that's not counting the marinas at Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, or Rosario. Not to worry, I have a plan >>> all the parks and then some
Sometimes when we plan a vacation trip to the San Juan's, we try to make a great circle route because it saves time and resources. But this time we're going to decide where we go, as we go. We will see how that non-plan works out. Certain people on the boat have expressed a desire for hot showers, I guess we will see how that works out too. Since we may travel all the way across the San Juan's and back, your boat will need a minimum 75-mile range. Fuel is readily available everywhere but smart skippers figure one-third of the miles out, one-third back, and a third as a cushion. If your fuel tank is a little small you can tie a five-gallon can on deck. Knowing you have reserve fuel will ease anxious thoughts and ensure you have a great visit. Shall we also assume that you have a seaworthy vessel with all safety gear? If not, correct it before we head out, or stay home. Life jackets for all
Plan as we go itinerary:
|Cornet Bay Launch Ramps
Let's begin at Cornet Bay in Deception Pass Park. However, after reading this post, I suggest that you search this website and check out the other launch locations. Some may fit your plans better. launch points Also, search the other parks and marinas and things to do. It is easy to overlook a great place or mini adventure that will make your cruise the best of all. I chose to launch at Cornet Bay this time because I really enjoy the pass scenery. The dock and the long-term parking are ideal. Plus being able to take off or return from both directions 24/7 opens up even more possibilities when not having a firm plan. If I was heading for the Sucia area first off, I may have chosen Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham but where we end the cruise may dictate where to begin.
Read the rest?