Bobby Ryan of Inspired Earth Teas

The salty crispness of a craggy, windswept shore. The heady scent of damp wood. The warmth of sweet sunshine. The San Juan Islands have long been a refuge for weary hearts and creative minds — and it’s this wildly scenic and peacefully unimposing beauty Bobby Ryan is capturing in a cup. 

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Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve

Fisherman Bay is a calm and protected inlet located near the northern end of Lopez Island. Boaters both love and dread the protected anchoring grounds, as the one-way entrance and exit is well-known for its narrow navigation lines. (Spanning just five feet in some sections at low tide, boaters are strongly encouraged to come and go when the water is at its peak.)

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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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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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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.

And the great news is, whether you’re flying from Boeing Field to Friday Harbor, catching a seaplane from Lake Union to Roche Harbor, or hopping on a 25-minute flight from Paine Field to Orcas Island — the views are endless and check-in is a breeze!

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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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A family looking in a tide pool finds any number of treasures. Photo by Zargon Design.

The rocky shorelines that ring the San Juan Islands create a diverse habitat that’s rich with life. Throughout the crevices and pools, sea anemones live next to mussels and barnacles grow next to starfish. Seaweed varieties abound and shore crabs scuttle.

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Things to do in Friday Harbor with Girlfriends

Breathtaking views, farm-to-table cuisine, and a plethora of low-key activities make Friday Harbor an epic girlfriends’ getaway. 

Roughly 175 forest-covered rocky inlets make up this archipelago. Here, lush farmland butts up against freshwater lakes and protected coves. Saltwater surrounds the shorelines, where seals can be seen playing and mountain views often flirt with the horizon. 

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Friday Harbor Fall

Even those of us who scoff at selfie sticks have snapped an arm-extended personal pic from time to time. Because when you’re in a breathtakingly beautiful setting – like San Juan Island – capturing the moment is natural.

So if you’re San Juan bound, don’t miss your chance to snap a selfie by these epic lookouts, historic sites, and cute creatures!

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Brady Ryan inspects the harvest while his son plays outside. Photo by La Vie Photo.
Brady Ryan inspects the harvest while his son plays outside. Photo by La Vie Photo.

With seawater and sunshine, Brady Ryan produces roughly 20,000 pounds of salt a year on San Juan Island.

“There’s a manufacturing component to every business and there is to ours. But there’s also this magical side. Seeing the crystals first appear when nothing was there just a few hours earlier, it’s incredible,” explains Brady Ryan, founder of San Juan Island Sea Salt.

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