San Juan Islands Washington

The Puget Sound just off Washington State is a majestic place that is full of serene waterways, magnificent islands, verdant forests and an abundance of wildlife which makes the region so very special.

Within Puget Sound is an archipelago called the San Juan Islands. Although the dots of land which rise from the waters are very prominent, shipping has to be careful because within this archipelago are 450 islands, rocks and pinnacles which improve the diversity of the region, but which make the archipelago just a bit more treacherous.

The islands are part of the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. Native people first used the area near the end of the last glacial period, about 12,000 years ago. The first Europeans explored the narrows of the San Juan Islands in the late 18th century, and many of their names for the 172 islands are still in use.

Four of these islands have ferry services, and attract the most visitors.

Orcas Island is horseshoe-shaped and contains Moran National Park which contains several lakes and has many great hiking trails. Perched at the top of an attractive fjord is the town of Eastbound, which boasts many historic homes and buildings, and a thriving town centre that is bustling with galleries, craft shops, cafes and restaurants. On the other side of the island is Deer Harbour where you can enjoy all forms of aquatic activities.

On San Juan Island you can enjoy great views, from the shore, of Orca pods which inhabit the bays. In Friday Harbour, the largest town on the island, you can visit the Whale Museum to learn about these incredible cetaceans. When you travel the island beyond Friday Harbour, you’ll journey through miles of farmland and stretches of forest on your way to American Camp or English Camp, both part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park. Near the entrance to Roche Harbor you’ll find the San Juan Islands Museum of Art Sculpture Park where more than 100 sculptures placed in an open setting.

Lopez Island is known as the friendly isle because its natural beauty and quality of life have attracted a variety of residents such as artists, craftspeople, entrepreneurs, musicians, farmers, fishermen and nature lovers who are happy to welcome visitors. An annual event on the last Saturday in April each year is the Tour de Lopez which is a non-competitive, rural road tour that offers short and long routes through the island’s varied landscape.

Shaw Island is the smallest of the main islands. It is home to a Benedictine Monastery where the resident nuns run a farm and welcome visitors.

1 comment to San Juan Islands Washington

  • Hi Grumpy,

    Thanks for the kind words about the San Juan Islands, just wanted to alert you to a new development: the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands are now referred to as the Salish Sea. The waters lower down near Seattle are still referred to as Puget Sound.

    Thanks for not being grumpy about us!


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