Hear about travel to the San Juan Islands and Whidbey Island as the Amateur Traveler talks to Seattle local Alex Shoemann about these beautiful islands in the Puget Sound.
Alex says: “I think when people think of the San Juan Islands, the first thing they often think of is the wildlife. It’s a world-class destination for wildlife. The southern resident orcas, which we’ll definitely talk about on the are a group of orcas that are in the San Juans year round. There’s also quite a bit of great birding. It’s the, I think, highest concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 as well. So the wildlife is pretty astounding.”
“And then it’s a really beautiful natural setting. It’s a chain of islands in this inlet that is the Puget Sound. And then to your west and your east, you’re surrounded by big snowy peaks. The islands themselves are covered with Douglas Fur Forest. It’s a beautiful setting for a vacation. And then, the part that people may not know about as much, is the sensibility of the islands is very relaxed and laid back.”
Alex starts us with the ferry from Anacortes to Orcas Island. If we take the first ferry of the day there should be time for a meal and then we are off to the Turtleback Mountain Preserve and later to Moran State Park. There are waterfalls to see and great views of Orcas Island and of the entire San Juans on a clear day. Visit a local art coop, and then grab a good meal to finish the day.
The next day, Alex recommends heading out for an encounter with the resident Orcas or in the right season with whales migrating up and down the west coast.
On the third day, we head over to Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. San Juan Island is flatter than Orcas Island so it could be a good opportunity to rent a bike to explore the island. There is a winery and a cidery on the island as well as an unusual park in the National Park system that remembers a war that the United States and Great Britain almost fought over the loss of a pig and a very unclear border. Stop by the Whaling museum in Friday Harbor to learn more about local sea life.
Alex encourages us to get in a kayak to explore the area on the 4th day, perhaps with a trip to Point Doughty or to one of the other local reserves.
If you want an add-on to this trip or a shorter trip from Seattle then Alex recommends a couple of days exploring Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island has great hikes like Ebey’s Landing, cute inns like Captain Whidbey, and another winery.
Come explore the outdoors near Seattle in the San Juan Islands or Whidbey Island.
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San Juan Islands
Washington State Ferries
Outlook Inn on Orcas Island
Brown Bear Baking
Turtleback Mountain Preserve
Moran State Park
Cascade Falls Trail
Orcas Island Artworks, San Juan Islands Art Gallery
Buck Bay Shellfish Farm
Things to Do in the San Juan Islands – History, Art, Food and Whale Watching
Point Doughty Natural Area Preserve
Orcas Island Winery
Island Hoppin’ Brewery
San Juan Island Distillery
Coupeville – Whidbey Island
Double Bluff Beach
Deception Pass State Park
Spoiled Dog Winery
I just listened to the Melanesia Podcast. It was excellent. We were there in 2018. We spent two months in the region and really enjoyed it.
Your conversation at the end is right on. I’ve been retired since 2006 and we have been enjoying the world ever since. The people we travel with are similar.
The challenge we face is how to get more younger people to travel. Many do, but we need many more. Luckily, our granddaughter is into travel.
Have a Happy Holiday!
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