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Whale Watching, Hiking & Dining, Oh My! Plan the Best San Juan Island Vacation

Light house on a grassy hill with water in the background

Whether you’re excited to take off on a whale watching tour or are more enamored with the idea of lazy mornings and gentle hikes, we’re here to help you plan the perfect vacation in the San Juan Islands.

The adventure of visiting the San Juan Islands begins the moment you walk or drive onto the ferry. Enjoy panoramic views as you make the crossing. If you opt to fly to Friday Harbor, you are sure to experience an unforgettable ride. There are not many places in the world where you can take a seaplane and land in the harbor just a few blocks from your accommodation. If a seaplane is a bit too daunting, however, wheeled planes fly into Friday Harbor Airport.

Accommodations in the San Juan Islands

A memorable vacation begins with a comfortable place to rest and relax in between adventures. With seven guest rooms, nine suites, and three cottages, our inn has something for everyone – whether you’re traveling solo or in the company of family or friends. Explore these options in more detail under our “Accommodations” section or call to speak with our innkeepers about what each unit has to offer. Beyond making sure you feel at home during your stay, we’re also happy to help you plan your travel and secure dining, massage, or activity reservations.

Whale watching off the coast of San Juan Island

Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands

If you would like to make a whale watching tour part of your stay on San Juan Island, we’re happy to help. We’ll match you with the perfect tour operator – whether you are looking for a small group experience, an adventure trip on a zodiac-style vessel, or a more spacious and comfortable boat.

Witnessing Orcas and Humpback Whales in their natural habitat is an experience of a lifetime. There have also been local sightings of Minke and Gray whales as they migrate through our waters. Trained naturalists are available point out not only whale activity but also other notable indigenous wildlife that may be spotted during the tour.

Prefer to do your whale watching from the shore? Because of their feeding patterns, Orca whales, porpoises, seals, dolphins, and eagles are often spotted along the west side shoreline during the spring and summer months – especially from the observation areas at Lime Kiln Point State Park, the only shore-based whale watching park in the world!

Kayaking in the San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are a world-class destination for kayakers. Whether you are a seasoned paddler or a newbie, there are guided excursions to suit you that launch from a number of locations on the island. Each offers a special “sea level” view of the magnificent cliffs and coves – and occasionally a close-up visit with an Orca.

Hiking in the San Juan Islands

Back on land, get in your car and follow the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway around the perimeter of the island, pausing to hike and explore the beaches and forest trails. Lime Kiln Point State Park, Cattle Point Lighthouse, and San Juan Island National Historical Park are definite don’t-miss tour stops.

And if you are up for a bit of a climb, catching the expansive vistas offered when you get to the top of Mt. Young or Mt. Finlayson are well worth the aerobics to get there! Don’t forget to pack a snack to enjoy while you catch your breath and take in the views.

Coho Restaurant

Dining in the San Juan Islands

By this point, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. There is a wide variety of lunch and dinner options available year-round to satisfy every palate. All of the restaurants and cafés in Friday Harbor are locally owned and operated, and the majority of owners rely on menus that are locally sourced and sustainable.

Just a short walk from the inn, you can enjoy an evening at Coho Restaurant, also part of the San Juan Island Inn Collection. The rotating seasonal menu showcases relaxed farm-to-fork fine dining featuring Pacific Northwest flavors.


For as much as there is to see and do on San Juan Island, it’s also an excellent place to kick back, relax, and enjoy the slower pace of “island time” well away from the hustle of mainland life. We offer several packages to help you make your time on the island extra special, whether you’re looking for dining, flowers and wine for a romantic weekend or your stay is more massage and relaxation focused. Expecting parents can treat themselves to a babymoon that even includes custom-made ice cream!

Whether you enjoy being out on the water, hiking through the forest, or picnicking at the shoreline, there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy the striking beauty of San Juan Island. From organized activities to simply taking the inn’s complimentary guest bicycles and kayaks out for a spin, you’ll never be at a loss for ways to immerse yourself in the natural wonders all around you.

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Friday Harbor online or by calling us at (360) 378-3587.

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