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Suggestions for island travel??

Portland, Oregon
10 posts
Suggestions for island travel??

We will be coming from Jasper, Alberta. We will have 5 days to spare for this leg of the travel.

Last minute change of plans due to fires in Galcier and I'm trying to scramble to figure out an awesome end to the trip.

I've never been to any SJ islands--so, not sure where or what to expect. Rustic plan is to ferry to one of the islands, stay overnight, ferry to Port Townsend the next day. From there we will drive thru Olympic NP and stay at Lake Quinnault before heading to Portland.

BUT....what to do?? Which island is the best for a dad and daughter with a dog. My dad just recovered from intense chemo so his hiking ability isn't the strongest. More of sight seeing, casual walks, food/drink, animal watching, lots of R&R, and peacefulness.

Can we travel from Bellingham or Vancouver on ferry with car and dog, or is it better to go to Anacortes? Once we are on either San Juan or Orcas, is there a ferry from there to Port Townsend that takes cars or must we ferry back to Anacortes and then drive to Port Townsend?

Any info is helpful, as I'm starting from square 1 with very little planning time to research. Thanks a bunch!!

6 replies to this topic
Seattle, Wa
Level Contributor
5,988 posts
49 reviews
1. Re: Suggestions for island travel??

Please do some very basic research. There are no ferries to the SJI from Bellingham or Vancouver, and no ferry from SJIs to Port Townsend. There are very good web resources including this one with a first timer's guide.


You also can't drive "through" ONP. You can only drive around/outside of it, except for a small section, through clearcuts and old logging towns, and it's not a pleasant drive. You haven't given yourself any time to actually go into the park.

Renton, Washington
Level Contributor
5,388 posts
2. Re: Suggestions for island travel??


1 post
3. Re: Suggestions for island travel??

The Olympic part of the trip isn't an issue. I've been numerous times and, yes, I should have said "around" the park. I'm good on that, thanks.

When I was looking for ferry travel, I read that there are other ferries other than Washington State Ferry, but then I couldn't find them when doing quick Google searches....that's why I asked.

I've only taken the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge, never around the SJI. I thought it was be a quick easy question for the forum. It looks like I'll have to travel through

Anacortes both directions, hoping someone had another suggestion. Thanks anyway!

Battle Ground...
Level Contributor
346 posts
3 reviews
4. Re: Suggestions for island travel??

Another option if you are traveling from Vancouver BC is the ferry to Vancouver Island, visit Victoria, then ferry to Port Angeles:

Ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (BC Ferries: https://www.bcferries.com/schedules/mainland/tssw-current.php)

Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles (Black Ball Ferry Line: https://www.cohoferry.com/)

Obviously, this bypasses the San Juan Islands.

Edited: 30 August 2018, 15:02
Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
219 posts
94 reviews
5. Re: Suggestions for island travel??

Your dad would probably be happier on San Juan Island.

Dogs are allowed on the SJI ferries tho not in the passenger cabin. You can leave your dog in the car or bring him upstairs to the front of the boat where there is a covered seating area.

There is a ferry from Sidney on Vancouver Island that stops in Friday Harbor (SJI) and also one from Anacortes. Reservations are strongly recommended. Ferries are very expensive so it may not be worth it to you for a single night. That being said the ferry ride itself is awesome. Really beautiful trip tho I fear the smoke from the forest fires may ruin it for you.

I fear that under the current conditions you might want to skip the islands and spend an extra day in OPN. Perhaps on Lake Crescent.

To get to OPN you need to take the ferry to Port Townsend from Coupeville (Reservations please!) or as another poster has said the Black Ball ferry from Victoria or if you just want to get to Lake Quinault you can drive down I-5 to Olympia and cut over there.

Seattle, Wa
Level Contributor
5,988 posts
49 reviews
6. Re: Suggestions for island travel??

There is no other car ferry that goes to the SJIs other than the WA state ferries. The other thing that is sometimes called a ferry but is a private, high speed catamaran for passengers only, is the Victora Clipper from downtown Seattle.

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