San Juan Island is considered one of 172 islands making up the San Juan Islands off the northern coast of Washington State. The second largest island within the archipelago is 20 miles lengthy and seven miles extensive. With unimaginable ocean views, rolling hills, farms, and fields, San Juan is a pleasant getaway from the hustle and bustle of the town.

The surroundings is magnificent, however whale watching is the spotlight of a visit to San Juan Island. Listed below are my suggestions for whale watching on scenic San Juan Island.

The San Juan Islands Guests Bureau, Friday Harbor Home, and Lakedale Resort sponsored my journey. All ideas and opinions are my very own.

Whale Watching in Friday Harbor

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

1. Whales To Watch For

Killer Whales (Orcas) are the primary attraction off San Juan Island. The attribute black physique and white markings are distinctive and permit for the identification of people. Three pods make the Salish Sea house. The pods are named J, Okay, and L pods. Orcas journey collectively in matrilineal teams led by the eldest feminine. Analysis reveals that every pod has a particular vocal dialect. About 90 p.c of their eating regimen is salmon. The transient orcas additionally feast on sea lions.

Murals on the outside of The Whale Museum

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

2. Begin Your Go to At The Whale Museum

The proper place to begin your go to is The Whale Museum at Friday Harbor. There are two flooring to the museum. The primary flooring homes small displays, video displays, and a present store. The second flooring is a big exhibit room. View life-sized fashions and full skeletons to understand the dimensions of those mammals. Take heed to the “whale songs” once you step into the telephone e book within the massive exhibit corridor. Take time to view the informative movies.

On the museum, you may as well “undertake” an orca. See the images of all of the resident orcas and select which one you need to assist.

1919 LIghthouse at Whale Watch Park (Lime Kiln State Park)

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

3. How To Watch For Whales From Land

Head to Lime Kiln Level State Park, often known as Whale Watch Park, on the island’s southwestern shore. Take the San Juan Scenic Byway from Friday Harbor, about 9 miles to the park entrance. As one of many locals defined, “If you will see whales from land, that is the place to do it!” Lime Kiln is the one park within the U.S. devoted solely to whale watching and it overlooks Haro Strait, waters favored by the whales. The 41-acre park has a wide range of viewpoints, picnic tables, bogs, a customer middle, and a 1919 lighthouse. On the lighthouse, get pleasure from listening to whales with the underwater hydrophone. Take time to learn the interpretive shows alongside the pathway.

Professional Ideas: You want to pay for parking or show your Uncover Move. You should buy a day cross or a yearly cross on-line. Or there’s a kiosk on the park. The day cross is $11.50 and an annual cross is $35. Bear in mind park and seaside etiquette: Take nothing and depart nothing behind. The Web doesn’t all the time work alongside the west coast of the island, so I recommend you both carry a printed map or obtain one onto your telephone.

Whale watching with San Juan Safaris

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

4. How To Watch For Whales From A Sea Tour

Get pleasure from whale watching and wildlife sightings with San Juan Safaris. Voted #1 Echo Journey Tour within the Pacific Northwest, San Juan Safaris proudly upholds the rules for respectful wildlife viewing. Native naturalists present fascinating commentary on the realm and wildlife.

Our 3.5-hour tour gave us loads of alternatives to look at orcas in addition to sea lions and bald eagles.

Packing Hints: Gown in layers; it may be chilly out on the water. Put on sturdy closed-toe sneakers and convey a hat and gloves. Additionally, carry a non-breakable water bottle and a few snacks to get pleasure from. Bear in mind your binoculars.

Professional Tip: The San Juan Safari Workplace is simply steps from the ferry touchdown terminal at Friday Harbor. As such, parking might be tough. The closest parking spots are restricted to 2 hours. Plan to park your automobile a minimum of three blocks away, both on Spring Avenue or First Avenue by the Courthouse. Make sure you permit additional time for this so you may catch your crusing.

5. How To Watch For Whales Whereas Kayaking

Kayaking could be very common round San Juan Island. In case you are on the lookout for whales, start your journey off Roche Harbor on the island’s northern coast.

A number of firms supply guided paddles of assorted lengths. One of many locals really useful all the time having a information for the primary kayak journey.

San Juan Safaris additionally gives kayaking excursions, together with a 3-hour Sanctuary Whale Watching Cruise out of Roche Harbor.

Family tree of Resident Orcas at The Whale Museum

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

6. Be taught How To Be “Whale Smart”

The ocean is a fragile surroundings and might be harmed by human actions. Assist shield marine wildlife by studying the rules and legal guidelines at this web site.

Keep 400 yards away from the whales always. 

Verify that any information or tour is a Pacific Whale Watch Affiliation or San Juan Islands Kayak Affiliation member. Members of those organizations are dedicated to schooling, conservation, and accountable wildlife viewing.

Go to the web site to study extra about inexperienced practices, toxins, and how one can assist at house. Additionally, remember to select an organization that makes use of locally-certified naturalists.

Enjoyable Truth: These are the house waters of Lolita, the orca captured in 1970. After 50 years of captivity, the Miami Seaquarium will likely be returning Lolita to the Salish Sea. Verify the hyperlink for updates.

Rocky Bay Cafe in Friday Harbor

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

The place To Dine

Rocky Bay Cafe

From informal to elegant, San Juan Island has a eating expertise to please all. Start your day at Rocky Bay Cafe for a hearty, scrumptious breakfast. Rocky Bay is a neighborhood favourite positioned on Spring Avenue in Friday Harbor.

Harbor Home Restaurant

Get pleasure from eating on the Harbor Home Restaurant in Friday Harbor. Whereas marveling on the harbor view, start with an island-inspired cocktail just like the PNW Martini. I loved the Prawn & Pesto Pasta: house-made lemon trottole pasta, prawns, pine-nut pesto, and crumbled feta. Teamed with the Boston Bibb Salad, this was a beautiful dinner.

Duck Store

One other of my favourite eating spots is the seafood restaurant, Duck Soup, positioned a mere 5 miles north of Friday Harbor on Roche Harbor Highway. An area favourite since 1978, the country setting and inventive dishes make for a pleasant night. Start your meal with house-baked heat sourdough bread, olive pate, and whipped butter. This has been a staple since 1978. For my entrée, I selected the scallops with curry beurre blanc, cilantro black rice, and chili crisp bok choy. What a scrumptious mixture!

Deluxe yurt on the Lakedale Resort

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

The place To Keep

Friday Harbor Home sits atop a bluff a couple of block from the ferry terminal. The resort gives unparalleled views of the ferry terminal, marina, and the San Juan Channel. You might be solely minutes away from outlets and eating places. Verify into the Calm down and Rejuvenate Package deal providing memento Boca Terry Friday Harbor spa robes, the Rose All-Day spa bundle, and two splits of rose prosecco. There’s additionally a yoga mat in every room.

Searching for one other distinctive San Juan Island expertise? Head 4 miles north of Friday Harbor on Roche Harbor Highway to Lakedale Resort. The resort gives each lodging and glamping choices all through the 82 lakeside acres. That is the primary time I’ve stayed in a deluxe yurt. What a deal with! Spacious, with a full kitchen, scorching tub, and personal deck, I used to be received over by the upscale yurt expertise.

Friday Harbor and Ferry

Photograph credit score: Jo-Anne Bowen

How To Get To San Juan Island

Positioned roughly 100 miles north of Seattle, most people arrive through ferry. From Seattle, drive north on Interstate 5 to milepost 230, and comply with State Route 20 West to Anacortes and the ferry terminal. The Anacortes Ferry takes you to the scenic city of Friday Harbor.

Verify for schedules and present ferry circumstances from Anacortes to Friday Harbor.

Professional Tip: You should buy tickets on-line and upfront. I strongly advocate additionally making reservations. Ferry vacationers are charged solely on the westbound journey. For shuttle service from Sea-Tac Airport to Anacortes Ferry Terminal, contact Airporter Shuttle Service.

San Juan Island is a vacation spot that provides rest and nature. The “island life” is rejuvenation at its best. Plan a go to quickly; you may be glad you probably did!

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