San Juan Islands

San Juan IslandsWe depart Anacortes for the isolated cove of Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island. For the adventurous we recommend the intermediate hike to the enticing elevated heights of Eagle Cliff where one can enjoy the panoramic views of the San Juan archipelago. Less rigorous hikes are optional. This harbor offers phenomenal views of the sun rising over Mount Baker in the Cascade mountain range.

Depart Cypress after breakfast and sail for isolated Sucia Island. This glacially carved paradise offers myriad outdoor activities: kayak along tidal hollowed cliffs overhung by red-barked Madronas, hike a sophisticated network of trails leading to scenic coves and vistas, enjoy a campfire on the beach as the sunset tints the coastal San Juan Islands mountain range of Vancouver Island. Sucia’s magic could engulf an entire vacation.

Set sail from Shallow Bay for a three hour jaunt to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. This protected harbor offers an excellent opportunity to use our ten foot sailing dinghy. Check out Peter Fromm’s floating art gallery featuring photographs of the Pacific Northwest. (www.frommphotos.com)

During the summer a local family delivers via skiff afternoon ice cream and delicious cinnamon rolls in the early morning if you would like to indulge. A two mile walk along the island’s main road allows you to experience laid back island life. Tour the one room school house and its library and museum outbuildings. Take advantage of the honor system and purchase souvenirs from the treasure chest provided by Boundary Pass Traders. Continue down the road past the island’s runway and find yourself at historical Turn Point lighthouse where you can enjoy views of Vancouver Island and the occasional passing Orca pod.

San Juan IslandsA short motor out of the bay and to the north brings us into Boundary Pass where we can hoist the sails and tack back and forth across the US and Canadian border. Once you tire of sailing we will head to the bustling historic village of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. (www.rocheharbor.com) This town was originally built by the McMillin family to support the lime kiln quarries which were crucial in the rebuilding of San Francisco after the earthquake and fire in 1906. This eccentric family built the Afterglow Vista Mausoleum which graces the forest above the village and is worth the short walk to check it out. Formal dining is available at McMillins Dining Room. The Madrona Grill serves up casual fare and live entertainment on the weekends. The Lime Kiln Café is known for fresh, homemade donuts.

As we ride the flood towards Jones Island state park we pass Spieden Island to our port side. Check out the exotic wildlife and birds that continue to thrive on Spieden after being imported from the Sahara in the 1970’s. The island was briefly renamed Safari Island and hunting excursions were promoted. This plan was quickly trumped by county officials. The hunters and guns are gone but the animals remain. Soon we arrive in the protected north cove of Jones Island. This 179 acre marine park offers excellent opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing. Soak up the broadSan Juan Islands western views from the granite stones along the shore and absorb the apricot sunset.


Today we travel to busy Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. (www.islandcam.com) Being the largest town in the San Juan Islands it offers a multitude of shopping and dining choices and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. Enjoy the leisurely pace of island life here. Watch float planes, ferries and pleasure craft weave and dodge in the broad bay. Rent a moped and tour the fragrant lavender farms. (www.pelindabalavender.com) (www.susiesmopeds.com) Golfing and live theater performances are other available activities. (www.sanjuangolf.com) (www.sanjuancommunitytheatre.org) Because of its ease of access Friday Harbor is another option for a pick up or drop off spot.

After a long day of sailing, soak in the therapeutic hot tub and tranquil swimming pools at Rosario Resort and Spa located in East Sound on Orcas Island. (www.rosarioresort.com) Dine ashore formally or casually at one of the resorts three restaurants. This century old building features a pipe organ which was installed by the initial owner for festive parties and neighborhood gatherinSan Juan Islandsgs. Mr. Moran built the mansion that now houses the resort and was known for his lavish social gatherings. An organ concert is available Monday through Saturday and comically recalls the history of the Moran family and features local Pacific Northwest photography. An arduous hike in Moran State Park leads to the tallest peak in the San Juans, Mount Constitution. From the summit expansive views draw your eyes from the Vancouver skyline in the north 120 miles south to the sparkling snowfields of Cascade Peak. A soak in the hot tub afterwards soothes tired muscles after the thirteen mile hike. Other shorter hikes are also available around Cascade Lake.

Seven nautical miles south brings us to 129 acre Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island. This unique sand formatioSan Juan Islandsn is manipulated annually by storms moving sand from the south in the winter and north in the summer. Excellent crabbing opportunities exist here. A sunset bonfire on this unique spit is a must. Swimming is an enjoyed activity in the shallow sun warmed water. A natural lagoon located in the center of the spit is teeming with waterfowl including blue herons and Canadian geese.

The final day we bring you back to Anacortes for drop off. Stay for a while and enjoy local amenities which include shopping and restaurant options. (www.anacortes.worldweb.com)