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San Juan Islands
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The San Juan Islands Region encompasses the four islands off of the Washington mainland. Each island varies in size and population, the largest being Orcas Island.[1] The namesake of the destination and the entire island group is San Juan Island. It is the second-largest of the islands and the most populous. The San Juan Island was the first of the San Juan Islands to be discovered and established.[1] The islands are known for their mountains and beaches; there is a wide variety of wildlife and landscapes throughout the islands. Whale watching and sailing are among some of the island's most popular activities. The small islands are more rural with private beaches, and a water airstrip and ferry visit each island twice daily to transport civilians and tourists.[4] The islands experience warm summers and long winters with sizable amounts of rainfall.[2]

What San Juan Islands is known for

The San Juan Islands Destination is located in between Washington and Vancouver Island. Four main islands comprise the San Juan Islands. Orcas Island is the largest of the islands and has many private vacation homes and marinas on its shores. Moran State Park is located on the eastmost side of the island. Here guests can hike to scenic lookout points, fish in small lakes and rivers. The Turtleback Mountain Preserve covers the entire west side of Orcas Island. Here visitors can explore the mountain's eight-mile trail network.[3] 

San Juan Island is the most populous of the islands but not the largest. The island has a large airstrip for water aircraft that bring in tourists and produce. The ferry also stops at Friday Harbor, the main city on the island. The town is located near the water, with multiple marinas, hotels, and vacation homes stretching along the harbor's shoreline. Here visitors can rent sailboats to take out on the call bay waters or into the more expansive ocean. Kayaking, bicycling, and hiking are also popular tourist activities throughout the island. Rentals for these items are available across all four of the San Juan Islands.[1] 

Multiple wineries and breweries are located on Lopez Island, and zipline tours are a standard attraction on Shaw Island.[4] Private golf clubs, resorts, and spas are located throughout the island for guests who desire a more private stay. A whale museum is located on San Juan Island and features many skulls and artifacts derived from the water surrounding the islands.[1] Each island is unique for its large rental homes, diverse landscape, and the prime whale-watching season. Pods of resident orcas swim through the waters between the islands often. Air tours are offered to view the pods from above, along with sailboat tours and whale watching expeditions.[7] 

The ferry transports over thirty million people to and from the islands annually. The summer is the most popular time for tourists to visit the islands along with the fall. This is likely due to the comfortable temperatures, flourishing plant life, and the orca pods' migration patterns.[2] 

Tourists come from all over the United States, mostly from the close mainlands, including British Columbia, Washington, and Vancouver Island. Most visitors have vacation homes or timeshares on the island and frequent the islands consistently every year. Most goods and services on the island are brought from the mainland; however, many of the island's fresh produce is grown in local residence gardens because of the ideal soil and air quality. The wineries and breweries on the islands also export their products to neighboring cities and towns. Many celebrities, business owners, and actors have summer homes on the island and will often offer tours or even let visitors rent out their houses while they are not staying in them. [7]


The San Juan Islands Region's borders encompass the four main islands and several smaller, less prominent ones located just off Washington.[1] The largest is Orcas Island; this island has a population of just over four thousand people and spans fifty-eight square miles. The town of Eastsound is the most populous of the areas on the island and is also where the ferry transports civilians, tourists, shopping goods, and even animals from the mainland. This island has many large mountain ranges and forested areas. Moran State Park and the Turtleback Mountain Preserve are large attractions and geographic features on the island.[3] 

San Juan Island is the second-largest of the islands and the most populous, with a population of almost seven thousand residences. The island is around fifty-five square miles with mostly open rolling hills and many well-paved roadways and hiking trails. The San Juan Island National Historical Park is located in the southernmost corner of the island and features a museum and many historical monuments.[1] 

Lopez Island is the third largest of the island. The island is closest to the mainland and has many marinas where visitors can take boat tours and go fishing.[4] Shaw Island is the smallest of the islands and resides in the center of all three. It is known for its marine preserve. 

The weather during the summer months is warm, with an average temperature of seventy-one degrees. The winter months are long and can hit a low of twenty-six degrees. Whale sightings are common year-round. The plant and animal life flourish off of the weather patterns. The islands accumulate an average of twenty-six inches of rain and five inches of snow per year. Precipitation occurs on average one hundred and thirty-seven days of the year.[2] 

The topographical contrasts make it possible for a large variety of life to inhabit the islands. Orca whales, porpoises, and seals are the water animals most commonly seen. The red fox, blacktail deer, over two hundred types of birds, and fish are generally caught on land.[5] Prairie fir, hemlock, and cedar trees are the trees that fill the forested areas of the islands. There are also many lagoons and wetlands throughout the destination.[6]


The San Juan Islands were originally part of the Coast Salish ethnolinguistic group. Explorers brought smallpox to the islands in the late 1700s. After natives to the Coast Salish groups were exposed to smallpox there was much disarray and divide throughout the area. Five different dialects made up the groups, each inhabiting their own island. However, when the Spanish found the land, they slowly started to populate the area and take over.[1] 

In 1843 the Hudson's Bay Company caused a border dispute between the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island. San Juan County was then established, and the islands were made official United States territory as part of the Oregon Treaty. The islands are still very small, and most business comes from tourists.[3] 

Orcas Island was named after the orca pods settlers discovered in the area, and San Juan Island was named after the explorer who first laid eyes on the islands.[1] Orcas Island has a population of 4,453; San Juan Island has a population of 6,894, Lopez island is home to around 2,000, and Shaw Island is the smallest with a population of just 240.[1]

4.95 (529 Reviews)

The Trumpeter Inn Bed and Breakfast is located near the city of Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands. The islands are on the border of the state of Washington and Canada. The inn sits on five acres of land and has six rooms available for visitors. The owners, Sherry and Jon, stay in a cottage on the property near the bed and breakfast to be accessible to guests. Located on the land are five alpacas, a mini goat, and two mini horses that visitors can interact with, as well as a garden area that patrons can pick fruit from if they want. The inn is open from February through October, and has an ADA accessible room. 

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4.8 (75 Reviews)

Inn To The Woods is a bed and breakfast located in the small town of Friday Harbor, Washington. Four personalized rooms fill the bed and breakfast with modern and rustic themes. Pets are allowed in two rooms on the property with an extra fee. Sportsmans Lake is across the street from the inn and offers many outdoor attractions during the summer months. Some popular things to do in the area include ziplining, boating, and hiking. A complimentary breakfast is served to guests every morning at 9 AM. Inn To The Woods is open year-round.

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4.7 (3 Reviews)

Nichols Street Suites is located in Friday Harbor, Washington. Friday Harbor is on San Juan Island, a popular tourist destination along the Washington coast. The property accepts guests year-round with two large suites available for rent. The establishment hosts views overlooking the nearby harbor and downtown area of the city. Each suite can sleep up to six people with two bedrooms, a full bathroom, living areas, dining arrangements, a balcony, and a fully equipped kitchen. Smoking is not allowed in or around the property. Whale watching and visiting authentic restaurants in the area are popular pass times for visitors at Nichols Street Suites. The suites are fashioned to be private and family friendly where visitors have private entrances and balconies to do as they wish.

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4.5 (65 Reviews)

Hotel Planter is located in La Conner, Washington, a town found in Skagit County. The hotel has twelve rooms located in the building's second floor. Built in 1907 the property is filled with décor from the early 1900's. A private courtyard and gazebo is available to all guests explore. The first floor of the hotel has three retail shops with an open art gallery as well. There is no breakfast served at the Hotel Planter, but there are many bakeries and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. The Hotel Planter is open year round, and the property has been owned by Donald and Cynthia Hoskins for over thirty years.

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