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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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.

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 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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Family Looking in Tidepool in the Pacific Northwest. Photo by Zargon Design.
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
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
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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Photo by La Vie Photo.
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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Friday Harbor weekend getaway
Friday Harbor

The largest town in the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor is far from a bustling metropolis. Here, traffic lights are nonexistent. Horses, bicycles, and tractors share the road with scoot coupes and cars. Sunshine reigns supreme. And rolling farmland sprawls into rocky shores and expansive ocean views. 

The list of what the island has can go on and on. However, it’s more about what the island doesn’t have. It’s devoid of the city hustle and bustle. Here, restaurants focus on locally sourced ingredients and slowly developed flavors. Shop owners linger with visitors, especially during the shoulder season. 

With a plethora of fun things to do in Friday Harbor (and plenty of opportunities to do nothing at all), this is one of the best weekend getaway destinations in the Pacific Northwest! Because while there are plenty of fun things to do in Friday Harbor (many of which are detailed below), sometimes the best way to experience island life is to do nothing and love it!

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sea lion photo by Jess Newley
Sea Lion in the Salish Sea by Jess Newley
This Steller sea lion is just one of the unique wildlife encounters that you can enjoy while visiting the islands. Keep an eye out for large colonies hauled out on rocks and an ear out for their roars often heard throughout the night. Photo by Jess Newley

Breaching killer whales, soaring eagles, swimming sea lions, and stunning shorelines—these are just a few of the sights that people travel to the San Juan Islands every year by foot, boat, or plane to behold. If you’ve been to the islands before, then you know that their moniker as “the hidden gem of Washington State” is true. But did you know that under the water there is a whole system of wondrous natural resources (eelgrass, kelp, forage fish, juvenile salmon, and of course, killer whales, to name a few) that support what we get to experience above the surface?

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Orcas Island by Eduardo Hueck
Orcas Island View by Eduardo Hueck
48(ish) hours sampling the best things to do on the biggest island in the San Juans.

This quaint destination, tucked within Washington’s gourmet archipelago, is loaded with enough baked treats, fresh seafood, and epic views to keep everybody happy. Residents of Orcas Island unite around the core conviction that they live in a beautiful and relatively untouched place. Here, artists thrive, hikes abound, and sea-to-table cuisine reigns supreme.

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