The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden in Victoria BC
The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden

While coffee is the ‘get up and go’ boost that starts many a day, tea invites the mid-day respite from the hustle and bustle. This afternoon practice brings with it a sense of calm and luxurious indulgence. It speaks to a time when life was slower and device free — as it was when the Prince and Princess Abkhazi began cultivating their stunning estate in the mid-1940s.

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Boating in the Salish Sea by Vancouver Island
Boating in the Salish Sea

There are hundreds of islands in Puget Sound, the San Juans, and Canada. The Straits of Juan De Fuca divide Washington from Vancouver Island, Canada and connect to the Pacific Ocean 60 miles west. The islands form a protected inland arm of the ocean that covers over 1,000 square miles called the Salish Sea. Astounding water depths dropping over 900 feet fill gaps between the rocky islands. Over a trillion gallons of water move during each tide refreshing the sea every day and providing a home for myriads of sea life.

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Orca killer whale off the coast of Canada breaching
Orca killer whale off the coast of Canada

Few sights are as humbling as seeing a whale breach the ocean’s surface and slap its body back into the water. It puts the massiveness of Mother Nature on full display with a heart-pounding thrill that’s hard to equal. Of course, not every Seattle whale watching tour includes a breaching orca whale. But most do include a whale sighting, especially aboard San Juan Safaris whale watching tours. 

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Kenmore Air Flight Instructor Ava Karr and a Piper SuperCub
Ava Karr Kenmore Air Pilot

Flying wasn’t always the plan. Initially, it was a means to an end. Ava Karr wanted a job where she could travel. A job that allowed her to take adventures.

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Fox Kits on San Juan Island. Iandewar Photography
Fox Kits. Photo by Iandewar Photography.

Delicate vegetables. Sprawling wildflowers. Bouncing babies. What’s not to love about spring? San Juan Island offers a particularly cute ball of energetic new life — fox kits (aka baby foxes). The fluffy pups are most predominantly spotted on the prairie above South Beach in American Camp National Historical Park.

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Seattle Elliot Bay in soft light. Phot by Leo Ang.
Seattle Elliot Bay. Phot by Leo Ang.

Seattle is as well known for rain as it is for coffee. But don’t let the moisture fool you. While there can certainly be dreary days, all that rainfall makes for a lush landscape. During the spring, Mother Nature starts to bless the region with sunshine and new growth. 

Flowers abound, turning the plethora of city parks into a colorful playground. Waterfront walks become dazzling displays. Farmers markets start to take on a new life as fresh produce evolves from root vegetables into sweet fruits. 

From sporting events and museums to tours and natural habitats, there’s a wide range of things to do in Seattle for those of all ages. 

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The Lodge at St. Edwards in Kenmore
The Lodge at St. Edwards

Venture some 15 minutes from the heart of Seattle into a quiet sanctuary, where grassy fields roll into pristine forests heavy with moss and an undeveloped waterfront hides a high-end retreat known as The Lodge at St. Edward. 

In the early 1900s, The East Side Journal said, “New York has its Brooklyn, San Francisco has its Oakland, Seattle is building its Kirkland.” At the time, Lake Washington was nine feet taller than it is today. Its eastern borders were considered a remote, country destination dotted with worn farmhouses, muddy lanes, and the occasional ‘second home’ of the city’s elite.

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Kenmore Air Otter and Cattle Point Lighthouse
Kenmore Air de Havilland Otter flying past Cattle Point Lighthouse

Though the quaint archipelago tucked within the Salish Sea is technically part of Washington State, it feels a bit like its own country. Heck, some of its rocky inlets are closer to Canada than they are to the American mainland. But the 172-plus islands in the Olympic Rainshadow don’t require a passport and are relatively easy to access — if you know what you’re doing. 

The following outlines 10 ways to travel from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. But at its most primitive level, there are only two ways to get here: by boat or plane. The nature of being surrounded by water on all sides makes this remote destination exactly that, remote. That’s part of the charm, part of what keeps this paradise a destination worthy of visiting year-round.

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Friday Harbor on San Juan Island
Friday Harbor Marina on San Juan Island

A fetching slice of paradise, Friday Harbor is the largest town in Washington state’s sunny San Juan Islands. Often a homebase for travelers, the plethora of things to do in Friday Harbor without a car make it alone with a visit. 

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Craigdarroch Castle with cherry blossom during springtime season. Photo by Shawn CCF
Craigdarroch Castle with cherry blossom during the spring season. Photo by Shawn CCF.

Published 2.27.2022 | Updated 3.20.2023

Thanks to its mild climate, Victoria boasts thousands of cherry blossom trees.

Typically, Victoria’s cherry blossoms begin to bloom by mid-February. The stunning display continues from February until May, creating pink archways throughout the city. The picturesque backdrops are just another reason to take advantage of the B.C. capital’s pedestrian-friendly streets — but you’ll want to see them before they’re gone.

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