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May trip input welcomed

SLC, UT
6 posts
1 review
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May trip input welcomed

We are flying to Seattle mid May for 5 nights. We have heard wonderful things about the San Juan’s and are looking forward to experiencing its beauty. None of us have been to Seattle, nor the San Juan's before. We are renting cars and will catch the ferry out of Anacortes. There are 7 adults and 3 "easy to please" children under 5 in our party. We enjoy hiking, scenic drives and being in nature.

For the 5 nights, I am thinking 2 nights in Whidbey Island, 2 in San Juan, and perhaps one night in Seattle. We really wanted to go to Victoria Island, but felt we were trying to put too much into one trip with little ones. It seems if you stay one night, you only have an afternoon/evening, as you have to get in "line" early the next morning for the return. But we are not ruling it out if it is feasible.

I know these questions are asked over and over, and it often boils down to personal preference, but I would appreciate some input as to how long to stay at each place, or maybe if we should spend our time more in the San Juan’s/Victoria instead of Whidbey. I would also welcome any "must see" suggestions. I figure we can't go too wrong with any agenda, but would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

Port Angeles, WA
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for Olympic National Park
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1. Re: May trip input welcomed

I am glad you wrote. Spend all of your nights in the San Juans. Whidbey Island is not in the same class, and you will be tremendously disappointed once you get to the San Juans and realize you wasted two precious nights on an inferior destination. Note that I mean inferior only in comparison to the San Juans; WI is a great escape for those who lack the time to go farther afield. Also, Victoria Island is in the Arctic Circle. You mean Vancouver Island. The latter is an extraordinary destination, but you don't have time to include it.

You will love the ferry ride to the islands. It is sublimely scenic.

Poulsbo, Washington
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2. Re: May trip input welcomed

I agree spend the whole time on the San Juan's. Stay two on San Juan and two on Orcas. Any Island here connected to the mainland by a bridge gives it a less remote and less unique feeling.

Washington
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for Seattle, Family Travel
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3. Re: May trip input welcomed

I agree. I would not include Whidbey in this itinerary. Whidbey Island works for those who want/need to be closer to Seattle, or for whom, the longer ferry travel is not an option. But if you have the time, I would choose the SJI. If your flight arrival is in the morning, I would rent your car and head straight to the San Juans. Are you arriving on a weekday or weekend? That could make a difference, and hopefully not over Memorial Weekend. That's a busy travel time for the ferry system and getaway travel in general!

I would save Seattle for the return trip, so you won't be dealing with the ferry, travel on I-5 and getting to the airport. If you can, start with 3-4 nights in the San Juans, then 1 or 2 nights in Seattle would work well. If you like, you could even potentially return the car to downtown, and take the light rail from downtown to the airport. Will you be renting one, two cars or a large capacity van?

I would skip Victoria for this trip.

SLC, UT
6 posts
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4. Re: May trip input welcomed

I am so glad I asked. Thank you SO MUCH for your input! Your local advice is invaluable. SJI it is. No Whidbey. No Victoria.

Now I would apreciate specific travel agendas, if you wouldn't mind giving suggestion. We arrive on a Weds evening (Mid May) at 6:00pm. We fly back Monday evening at 6:30pm. 5 nights total. Would you suggest we head up North that evening, ready to catch a ferry the next morning? Should we spend time at Deception Pass, or just head to San Juan's? Then on our return on Monday, would we be "safe" to catch a morning ferry and make it through traffic to catch our 6:30pm flight? Or would we be wise to head back to Seattle on Sunday evening?

Edited: 01 April 2014, 02:39
Poulsbo, Washington
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5. Re: May trip input welcomed

That is so hard to answer. In May on a Monday if you took an early ferry you should be ok. That said of course no one can predict potential delays. If I were only flying from Utah I would drive to Anacortes and spend the night. By the time you get your bags and rental car you should miss all of the commute traffic, which is the worst form Seattle to Everett.

San Juan Island...
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for San Juan Islands
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6. Re: May trip input welcomed

Our phone & internet are finally back again now, at least this extended outage was during good weather so we got lots of work done in our garden & property as we've been having nice sunny days here on the Island.

If you are arriving at 6pm in Seattle you won't be able to catch a ferry to the San Juans that night but it would be good to stay say in Anacortes one night and catch an early ferry out the next day so you'll have a full day to come and be here, although you could also spend the morning in Anacortes and then come out around mid-day.

I'm not sure how much you already know about the islands..you asked about 'must see locations' but I don't know how much your interested in active outdoors activities, although the majority of people who come out here for a visit of a number of days are active outdoor people who like beautiful day hikes and kayaking. If you want more details on trails afterwards I'll make some recommendations. The following info is more general and would be suitable for those of all ages and abilities.....

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 I would suggest you check what lodgings are available on the dates you will be here in advance at the web site http://www.visitsanjuans.com (see the form on the right side of their main page).

I would advise that you spend at least 2 or 3 nights in the San Juans with a few nights here on San Juan island. The ferry arrives right in the town of Friday Harbor where you will find many small attractive gift & boutique shops, a wide variety of restaurants, a movie theater, 3 museums, 3 book stores, art galleries, a bowling alley, and neither fast food chains nor traffic lights. There is a nice marina that you can walk around in (no locked gates here) right in town which is busy in the summer and holds many large yachts and sailing boats, and some commercial fishing boats.

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. From land orcas can sometimes be seen from a few parks on SJ island, Limekiln and American Camp, but then it’s really a matter of luck and timing. With a car or by shuttle van during their season you could go out to Lime Kiln Point State Park (also known as Whale Watch Park) and nearby the parking lot you could see the attractive lighthouse perhaps having a picnic at the nearby tables. This is a very scenic spot where orca whales can sometimes be seen along the coastline. There are also bald eagles, seals, porpoises, and the occasional minke or grey whale which can at times be seen as well from this park. However a motorized whale watch boat that can cover many dozens of miles in a short time span and has radio communication with all the other whale watch boats gives the best chance of one seeing orcas on a vacation visit. Information on Limekiln Park is at www.parks.wa.gov/parks/… and for whale watch boat tours see visitsanjuans.com/what-to-do/…A6 And for information on the most recently reported sightings in the San Juan islands see this web site: http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html

With your car you could also take some drives on our scenic roads and look for wildlife such as deer, rabbits, eagles, foxes, trumpeter swans, and raccoons. Some of the local ranches raise more than 'regular' cattle and have llamas, Scottish Highland cattle (the type with the large horns), and alpacas. Something unique for the Northwest is the island camel who lives in a field on Roche Harbor Road and often hangs around the fence there near a big barn. You could see views of much of the island stopping for awhile at places like Roche Harbor which has a nice marina (with more large yachts in the summer than Friday Harbor marina gets) as well as a few restaurants. In the summer it additionally has a small outdoor grouping of artist booths selling locally made art. Very nearby Roche Harbor resort is the outdoor Sculpture Garden at Westcott Bay where one can leisurely stroll around and view the many sculptures or just sit and look at the birds on the pond there. For more info on that see wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/westcott-bay-nature-…

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. There are no reservations taken for any ferries to any of the San Juan islands. Allow at least 1.5 - 2 hours driving time from Seattle to Anacortes. 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. Much 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 (and a nice new feature which shows the actual amount of spaces left per vessel sailing for vehicles )is at: …wa.gov/ferries/… If you do take your car with it is wise to always arrive at the ferry landing at least 1 hour in advance

SLC, UT
6 posts
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7. Re: May trip input welcomed

Wow! This has given me all the information I need to complete the details of our trip. Thank you, sincerely, for your willingness to share your advice, expertise and taking the time to respond. Can't wait to go!

San Juan Island...
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8. Re: May trip input welcomed

Your welcome. Hope you enjoy your trip and if you have further questions about the Islands let me know.

9. Re: May trip input welcomed

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