San Juan Islands are a Pacific Northwest USA archipelago (WA's San Juan County) situated between Washington State (USA) and Canada's British Columbia province (Vancouver Island). San Juan Islands' principal seaport is Friday Harbor (San Juan Island WA).
The Archipelago is accessible via Ro-Pax ships (car and passenger ferryboats) operated by WSDOT's Washington State Ferries (year-round, from Anacortes WA and Sidney BC to the islands San Juan, Lopez, Shaw, Orcas), Puget Sound Express (passenger-only, year-round between Port Townsend and Friday Harbor/San Juan Island), and Clipper Navigation Inc (seasonal-only, from Vancouver Island and Seattle to Friday Harbor). Passenger-only ferries are usually seasonal and often include private charters. Next photo shows Roche Harbor (on San Juan Island).
As a cruise destination, San Juan Islands are visited by smaller-sized ships from the fleets of the USA-flagged and all-American-crewed companies ACL-American Cruise Lines and UnCruise Adventures, as well as by Lindblad-National Geographic. Next table shows ACL's 10-night/11-day "Grand Puget Sound Cruise" itinerary introduced in 2021.
|Date / Time||Port|
|Day 1||Departing from Seattle|
|Day 4||San Juan Islands|
|Day 6||Friday Harbor|
|Day 7-8 (overnight)||Port Angeles|
|Day 8||Victoria, BC Canada|
|Day 9||Port Townsend|
|Day 11||Arriving in Seattle|
The Archipelago is served by three airlines:
- Kenmore Air interlinks Roche Harbor (San Juan) with Seattle (King County Airport/ aka Boeing Field).
- San Juan Airlines (inter-island carrier) operates commuter flights linking mainland Washington (Seattle, Anacortes, Bellingham) with Eastsound (Orcas), Roche Harbor (San Juan), Friday Harbor (San Juan), Blakely (Bainbridge), Lopez Island Airport, Waldron Airstrip, Wilding Farm Airport (Shaw), Stuart Island Airpark, Crane Island Airstrip, Decatur-Jones Airport (Decatur), Eliza Island Airport.
- Friday Harbor Seaplanes operate seasonal flights between Seattle (Renton Airport) and Friday Harbor-Roche Harbor.
The Archipelago's shipping trade is based on navigation in two major sea channels - the western Haro Strait and Boundary Pass (the most heavily used as the main route linking with Vancouver BC) and the eastern Rosario Strait (used mainly by cargo ships and oil tankers/operating between Cherry Point Refinery and Anacortes, as well as by vessels (cargo and passenger) bound for Alaska and British Columbia. Most of the Archipelago's businesses are tourist-oriented (restaurants, shops, bars, cafes, rental houses, marinas, boat tours, fishing) and heavily depend on seasonal domestic tourism.
San Juan Islands' (USA-owned) territory is bounded by Juan de Fuca Strait (south), Haro Strait (west), Boundary Pass (north-west), Rosario Strait (east), and Georgia Strait (north). The Archipelago consists of numerous (mainly smaller and uninhabited) islands. The largest islands are San Juan Island (resident population around 8000), Orcas Island (pop ~5500), Lopez Island (pop ~2500), Shaw Island (~300), Waldron Island (~100), Decatur Island (~100), Bainbridge Island/Blakely (~100), Eliza (~100). Other inhabited islands (with resident population under 100) are Brown, Center, Crane, Henry, Johns, Obstruction, Pearl, Stuart, Sucia, Matia, Patos, Spieden.
Orcas Island (archipelago's largest) has land area approx 57 mi2 (148 km2), highest elevation point (Mt Constitution) 2409 ft (734 m), total population around 5,500. The island's principal port and largest settlement is Eastsound (north).
Recreational boaters often visit the southwestern bays Westsound and Deer Harbor. Ferries dock at Orcas Landing. Access to the island is also via Orcas Island Airport and also by seaplanes.
Tourist attractions include Public Library and Historical Museum in Eastsound (the museum displays ~6000 items), Crow Valley School Museum, historic camps (Orkila, Indralaya, Four Winds Westward Ho). The island is popular for the parks Buck (with world-class sports facilities - skateboard park, tennis and pickleball courts, baseball/softball, sand volleyball court, frisbee fields, running trails, running track, walking paths), Obstruction Pass Park (76 acres/31 hectares). Moran State Park (with Mt Constitution) is the archipelago's largest recreation park and WA's largest (land area ~5000 acres/2000 hectares/8 mi2/20 km2) and features several lakes and waterfalls.
San Juan Island
San Juan Island has land area approx 55 mi2 (142,6 km2), highest elevation point (Mt Dallas) 1080 ft (329 m), total population around 8,000. Here in 1853 was established HBC's (Hudson's Bay Company) first permanent non-native American settlement.
The island is served by Friday Harbor Airport and Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal.
Tourist attractions and activities include Whale Museum, Art Museum, Community Theatre, Sculpture Park (outside Roche Harbor), Historical Museum, aquafarming (Westcott Bay Shellfish Company), camping, Orca whale watching (Lime Kiln Point Park).
The Roche Harbor Resort (on the island's northwestern coast) is a popular boating destination featuring a large modern Yacht Marina.
Lopez Island has land area approx 30 mi2 (77 km2) and total population around 2,500. The population increases during summer as the island has numerous properties purchased as second homes and guest houses (for rent). Lopez is the longest and most rural of the larger San Juan Islands, with scenery marked by forests, farmlands, beaches. The main access to the island is by ferries (docking at Lopez Ferry Landing/on the northern tip). The Anacortes-Lopez ferry travel time is ~40 min.
The island is served by Lopez Ferry Landing and Lopez Island Airport.
Among the tourist attractions are the island's nature parks, including Agate Beach Park (camping, beach picnic), Odlin Park (camping, picnic sites, boating, beaches), Otis Perkins Park (beaches), Shark Reef Sanctuary (nature trailing), Spencer Spit Park (features a long sandspit almost connecting to Frost Island, camping, picnics, boating), Upright Channel Park (beach, picnics, hiking).
Shaw Island has land area approx 8 mi2 (20 km2), population under 300 and is served by Shaw Island Ferry Terminal (north-east).
Tourist attractions include County Park (beaches), a historic general store, a library, a historical museum, Little Red Schoolhouse (Washington's longest-running school - since 1891), Cedar Rock Preserve (property of Washington University).
Blakely Island has land area approx 6,5 mi2 (17 km2), population under 100, and scenery marked by hills (covered with dense forests) and two central located freshwater lakes (Horseshoe and Spencer).
Public ferry services are not available, so access to the island is only via seaplanes or boats berthing at Blakely Island Marina (on the island's northern tip). Tourist facilities include only Marina's cafe and general store.
Waldron Island has land area approx 4,6 mi2 (9 km2), population around 100 (62 households), no recreational/tourist facilities, no no ferry access, no electricity/water supply.
Decatur Island has land area approx 3,5 mi2 (9 km2), population under 100, no tourist facilities (except Davis Bay's boat ramp, on the east coast), no public ferry services (access is only by boats or seaplanes). Passenger-only ferries (run by Paraclete Charter Service and Island Express Charters) connect with Anacortes.
Port San Juan Islands WA cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from San Juan Islands WA, Washington. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|6 September, 2021|
|9 September, 2021|
|13 September, 2021|
|18 September, 2021|
|20 September, 2021|
|23 September, 2021|
|National Geographic Quest|
|27 September, 2021|
|28 September, 2021|
|29 September, 2021|
- Cruise Industry
Due to Canada's current travel restrictions, Lindblad Expeditions announced a revised itinerary for the October 2021 "British Columbia and San Juan...September 1, 2021
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