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How Much Time???

Red Lion, PA
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37 posts
83 reviews
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How Much Time???

Hello, As part of a three week trip to the Northwest, I'm planning to be on San Juan Island in 2014, coming by ferry from Sidney on my way to Anacortes and on to Seattle. My dilemma is deciding how many days I want to enjoy the islands. If I arrive in the afternoon, check into a B&B, stroll Friday Harbor, enjoy dinner, that pretty much completes Day 1. Day 2 - drive around the island, stopping at parks, beaches, lighthouse, etc., do some hiking. Day 3 - Stay on SJI to do a kayak tour or take the car on the ferry to Orcas Island for a different island experience. Should I think about staying on SJI for 3 nights even if going to Orcas Island for the third day, OR staying the 3rd night on Orcas instead of going back to SJI? I want to enjoy the islands, not feel rushed or that I missed something. (I know, I can't see everything in 3 days!) Also, which idea would be less of a hassle with the ferry system. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

Friday Harbor...
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for San Juan Islands
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1. Re: How Much Time???

You might have already seen some of the following but in case you didn't see it all here is some general good info/links on tourist information for the San Juans:

Each of the 3 major ferry serviced islands (San Juan, Orcas and Lopez) in the San Juans have numerous sights of interest to people interested in the outdoors and activities such as hiking, kayaking, taking whale watch boat tours and biking. The WA state ferry ride out to the San Juan’s is beautiful and you pass right by many rural, heavily wooded islands on the way. Here is information in detail about the Anacortes ferry terminal and how to get to the ferry landing in Anacortes if you have a car as well as webcams showing you the current car holding lot …wa.gov/ferries/…

Here is a detailed general article on the Islands tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju… and also you can find out a lot about the islands including all there is to do here at the many parks and check for lodging vacancies on the dates you will be coming at the San Juan Visitor Bureau web site: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ And here is a calendar of events for San Juan: http://www.sanjuancalendar.com/

I would advise that you spend at least 2 of your 3 nights in the San Juans with a few nights here on San Juan island first. There is much hiking here both in the best know spots like American and English camp (national parks) and Limekiln State Park and in numerous Land Bank properties and other public lands that don't get mentioned much online. Your best chance of seeing orca whales in season (which is considered May through mid Sept.) would be to take a motorized whale watch trip as the whales are more often seen off the west side of SJ Island and into the Canadian Gulf islands. If you want to save yourself a bit of money for the ferries (like $25) then you should go to Orcas island next and then Lopez island if you want as then you won't have to buy another ferry ticket as your still traveling in the same direction. Do note that many lodgings on the island have 2 night minimums before low season.

Some of the outdoor things to do over on Orcas Island that you could do would be activities such as exploring Moran State Park with over 5,000 acres of forest and 30 miles of trails which is known for waterfalls, 5 freshwater lakes, hiking trails, and one of the best views in the San Juan Islands at the top of Mount Constitution (2,409 feet). The small Summit Learning Center has kids activities, naturalist lectures, trail maps and is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Moran park offers old-growth forest hiking, beautiful views for photographers, camping, freshwater swimming, trout fishing, wildlife watching, scenic driving & challenging biking. Lots of info on Moran State Park is at www.parks.wa.gov/parks/… For more info on hiking at Moran State Park see wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-constitution Also at Moran state park there is a peaceful trail around Mountain Lake. You can walk the 3.9-mile loop easily; it’s mostly almost flat (although tree roots etc mean it’s not a good trail for the handicapped) and shady and follows quite closely along the lake’s edge, affording all sorts of perspectives on the lake. There is also a nice trail around lower Cascade Lake. Another popular one is the hike to Cascade Falls or the trail from Little Summit (which has a few great sweeping overlooks) up to Mt. Constitution. Do note one needs to buy a Discovery Pass to park in any Washington State Park. You’ll find a complete map of the park online at http://friendsofmoran.com/maps-2 and the official State brochure for Moran park is online at …wa.gov/publications/…20Brochure.pdf

As for waiting for the inter-island ferry from San Juan to Orcas as visitors you might want to get there 30 minutes before the inter-island departs just to feel secure but they handle far less traffic than the ferries that go to the mainland. Do keep in mind the drive time you'll need from your last stop on Orcas to the ferry landing the day you leave and that their curvy roads have a 35 MPH speed limit outside of town.

2. Re: How Much Time???

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