We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First time visit-- sugggestions please

Level Contributor
28 posts
21 reviews
First time visit-- sugggestions please

My friend and I are plannng to visit the San Juan Islands for the first time. We plan on 7-10 days, late July to early August, 2018. We will probably rent a car at the Seattle airport for the entire trip. We're interested in the beautiful scenery, hiking (moderate level), kayaking and biking (and perhaps swing dancing, if we find any). We are in our '60's but work out, plus bike and kayak [and swing dance) regularly.

We want to avoid a motel and instead stay in a rental where we can do our own cooking, have some privacy,, perhaps a view, etc.

Are we better off staying on San Juan Island, and doing day trips to Orcas or other islands? Or split our time between two islands?

On San Juan Island, should we pick a place to stay other than Friday Harbor and, if so, where?

If there is a favorite source for vacation rentals, please pass it on.

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions. I have found posting on TripAdvisor forum to be invaluable in planning trips to many areas.

4 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
708 posts
98 reviews
1. Re: First time visit-- sugggestions please

Orcas is great for hiking with Moran State Park and has while Lopez is the favorite biking island as it is the most level. Friday Harbor offer some kayaking tours.

Do be sure to make ferry reservations far in advance at that time of year. https:/…washington-state-ferries

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,692 posts
8 reviews
2. Re: First time visit-- sugggestions please

If it were me I would stay on each Island. They are very different. Better hiking n Orcas, but I do like Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. Sometimes you can get info on latest Orca sittings at the Whale Museum and then the possibility of seeing Orca pods from Lime Kiln Park. I saw about 50 Killer Whales from the State Park further North one morning in July of Shore. I have had friends who saw them much closer Lime Kiln. I have always day tripped or camped so I can not advise on lodging.

Level Contributor
96 posts
43 reviews
3. Re: First time visit-- sugggestions please

Check orcashomes.com for Cherie Lindholm real estate vacation rentals on Orcas. Orcanetwork.org for whale sightings. If you have that much time you might want to split between San Juan and Orcas. Either way it's easy to take the inter-island once you get here. You'll definitely need reservations from Anacortes to any of the islands in the summer. You can make those at the Washington state ferries website as soon as they open up for summer. On Orcas Shearwater Kayaks has good tours. Not sure about San Juan but I know they have more tour outfits.

Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
219 posts
94 reviews
4. Re: First time visit-- sugggestions please

One of the nicest places to stay on Orcas is

The Cabin on Spring Bay. This is owned by my friends Carl and Sandy. It's a bit out of the way - 35 minutes to the ferry but very private and has a wonderful view. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g58… I think they rent it through VRBO

Another nice place to stay is Blackberry Beach Cabins. They have two cabins and it's in the town of Olga so not as secluded but the Waterfront Cabin has a beautiful view. I'm cheap so I usually stay at the Garden Cabin which is lacking the view and hasn't been modernized. It's adequate but a bit like staying at your grandmother's as far as the furniture goes. blackberrybeach dot com. You need to call Carol Jo to make reservations. 360-376-2845

If you are going to cook, all three of the major islands have nice grocery stores tho they tend to be a bit pricey. You might want to hit the Safeway in Anacortes before getting on the ferry. Gas is also a lot more on the islands so fill up before you get on the ferry. When we lived there the Indian reservation Chevron at Two Bridges on the way to Anacortes had the best prices.

Reply to: First time visit-- sugggestions please
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about San Juan Island