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Short day trip to San Juan Island from Anacortes

Tinley Park...
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Short day trip to San Juan Island from Anacortes

If we (3 adults in our 20's and 30's and an almost 2 year old) stay the night in Anacortes is it reasonable to go to the San Juan Island Friday Harbor and leave before dinner on a Sunday in August given that we have to take a ferry across? We need to leave to drive to a hotel stay in Port Angeles that night.

If so, should we ferry our car across or park and go over?

I'm thinking that depends on what we want to do there, but I'm still trying to figure that out some. Right now I'm thinking spend some time at Friday Harbor and possibly Lime Kiln Point to try and see some whales from the shore. Or what would you recommend doing on San Juan Island in this time frame? Or if you'd skip it given our limited time what would you do instead?

Friday Harbor...
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1. Re: Short day trip to San Juan Island from Anacortes

If you are coming over in the summer months on a Sunday for just the day I would suggest you come as walk on passengers as that will give you a lot more time to spend on the island and less in lines waiting. The San Juan ferries have lots of room for walk-on passengers but the space for cars in limited to under 150 per vessel. I have never heard of a time when walk on passengers did not get aboard the ferry they wanted as long as you are there with enough time to purchase a ticket & walk up the ramp to the ship....just be sure you get there with enough time to do that & always plan extra time so as not to be rushed or stressed. Many people come out here in the summer to the San Juans without taking their car. You can leave it in the parking lots at the Anacortes ferry landing. . For those who come out here without a car if you come in the warmer months you can use the San Juan island transit shuttle bus http://www.sanjuantransit.com/schedules.html to get around the island.

If you are just coming out to the San Juans for a day trip especially if coming without a car it's best to come to San Juan island itself. Here on San Juan island is the largest town in the County, Friday Harbor with 2,000 residents and the ferry docks right in town. You will find shops, restaurants etc in the town of FH which has 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 through right in town which is busy in the summer and holds many large yachts and sailing boats, and some commercial fishing boats...it's really pleasant walking around there for those who enjoy looking at the boats (and you may well see a heron or two at night). Often you can see a seal hanging around the floating fresh fish market on the docks. The museum most tourists visit in town is The Whale Museum. Info on that is at whalemuseum.org/museum/details/gallery.html This is a nice little museum for learning about whales and orcas in particular. The museum has full-size skeletons of a whale and a variety of other exhibits and interactive displays. You can find more suggestions for things to do in town at: visitsanjuans.com/the-islands/friday-harbor

Your best chance of seeing orca whales 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 the shuttle van in the warmer months you could go out to Lime Kiln Point State Park (also known as Whale Watch Park) and nearby the parking lot you'll see the attractive lighthouse and perhaps have 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

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 at the web site http://www.visitsanjuans.com

Enjoy your trip!

Green Valley...
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2. Re: Short day trip to San Juan Island from Anacortes

You'll have many daylight hours, but I'd depart Anacortes early to best use your limited time.

In addition to the above good advice, consider using island taxi service or, better, renting a car in FH for the day; there is much to see and to do so at your own pace.

I'd catch a later ferry from FH, but ensure sufficient daylight for the drive across Deception Pass bridge (a must see) to Coupeville and the ferry to Port Townsend.

Recommend reservations on the Coupeville ferry.

Edited: 07 June 2014, 01:28
Tinley Park...
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3. Re: Short day trip to San Juan Island from Anacortes

Thank you so much for your insights, this is very helpful for my planning.

4. Re: Short day trip to San Juan Island from Anacortes

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