Content and photos by Jennifer Furber published on July 8, 2017
For the adventurous, outdoor spirit, the most exhilarating way to travel around the San Juan Islands is by bike! Popular for their beautiful scenery and cool temperatures, the islands see thousands of cyclists each year. Such travelers love to walk on the ferry with their own bikes or just themselves with the intent of renting bikes. Being just a block and a half away from the ferry, the Tucker House Inn is the perfect host for a biking enthusiast.
From Anacortes, the bicycle surcharge is between $2-$4, depending upon the season. Once in the islands, inter-island ferry cyclists ride free. San Juan Island and Orcas Island are a similar size to cycle, while Lopez Island is half the landmass.
Shaw is an easy ride on the inter-island ferry in the morning, with plenty to see for an afternoon ride and then be back in Friday Harbor for dinner. With 240 full time residents, it’s no surprise the 12 miles of road rarely gets crowded. Shaw Island is less than 10 square miles which makes it the smallest of the ferry-served San Juan Islands.
There’s a charming and historic k-8 school to visit as well as the best sandy beach in all of the islands. Shaw Island County Park is protected from the ferry channel by Canoe Island. The calm cove is a half mile long, crescent shaped beach that’s 3,250 feet of light and soft sand. The shallow cove warms up to 65 degrees in the summertime and is a must-see for beach lovers. While waiting for the ferry back to Friday Harbor, there is a combination ferry terminal-post office-general store to explore. The store offers fresh produce, island-made crafts and essentials. There’s ice cream cones and a deli with fresh sandwiches, but it’s the out-of-the-oven oatmeal cookies that I love best.
Orcas Island is for experienced cyclists due to its narrow, curving roads, steep grades, and few shoulders. From the ferry landing it’s a hilly 9-mile narrow road to Eastsound. This is the main village on Orcas Island. From Eastsound, it’s a simple 6-mile loop out to North Beach, Buckhorn Beach and Crescent Beach. There’s even an epic climb of Mt. Constitution to 2,409 ft with sweeping views into Canada, accessed through Moran State Park. The view is undoubtedly worth the steep, winding hill climb.
Hogstone, a nationally-acclaimed restaurant, is located in the heart of Eastsound. Hogstone’s (open for dinner, Thursday-Monday 5:30-9pm) Wood Oven Restaurant is a farm to table fine dining experience featuring rustic pizza and food exclusively sourced from the island. Half of their menu is pizza, the beer choices are astoundingly delicious and the range of small plates showcasing fresh ingredients is inspiring. From the braised pork neck and chard with onion heart salad, you’ll develop a strong connections to the food on your plates and view the meal as a story of the harvest process as well as the atmosphere.
Lopez is a lovely island to cycle, with north to south water views along the journey. It is the least hilly of all the islands, therefore the easiest of the San Juans to bike. From the ferry, Lopez Village is 4.3 miles. Haven Kitchen and Bar (open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday-Saturday) is located in the heart of Lopez Village. There’s a water view, spacious deck, in-house baked goods and an eclectic drink menu. Self-described as “hyper-local” fare, the menu features vegetarian, seafood and locally sourced meats. It’s fine dining with incredible burgers. They’ve partnered closely with local farmers and fisherman to offer unique, locally harvested choices.
Lopez Island Vineyards (open Thursday-Saturday, 12-5pm) is located just out of town. They produce their wines using organically grown grape varieties. This has led to outstanding wines winning many medals over the past few decades.
San Juan Island
Start your biking adventure on San Juan Island right at the Tucker House. There are many different options for you to choose from. Check out our favorites rides here. If you choose a longer journey around the Island, here are are favorite spots to stop at along the way.
San Juan Vineyard, established in 1996, is open daily from 11am to 5pm. With wines widely distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest, you must make a point to stop by this vineyard. The tasting room is located in the island’s renovated 1895 schoolhouse. Enjoy glasses of fine crafted, award winning, organic wine. From the Vineyard, it’s six more miles to Roche Harbor. Historic Roche Harbor Village was built in 1881. With abundant formal gardens to ancient lime kilns, it’s a pleasure to park the bikes and have a look around.
San Juan Island harvests some of the best oysters in the country. Located just a few miles down the road from Roche Harbor Resort is Westcott Bay Shellfish Company (open daily 11am-5pm) is a responsible, sustainable shellfish farm. Enjoy oysters, mussels and clams on beautifully situated picnic tables. Shuck your own oysters and enjoy Bakery San Juan bread with a variety of salads to choose from.
From Westcott Bay Shellfish Co., head south, about six more miles, to English Camp, one of San Juan Island’s National Historic Park sites. English Camp is a fascinating place to explore. The British built it in the 1860s and it is now home to the surviving buildings from their occupation. From English Camp, travel 6.8 miles down West Side Road to Lime Kiln Lighthouse, built in 1917. Head towards town on Bailer Hill, left on Douglas, Right on Cattle Point, pass South Beach and head straight to Cattle Point Lighthouse. Then it’s 9.7 miles back to town. This completes the 35-mile SJI loop.
Relax Your Muscles After Biking
Stay at the Tucker House and relax after long hours spent cycling. Be sure to choose one of our rooms with a jacuzzi bathtub so you can soak your muscles and enjoy our lavender bubble bath. Then, wake up the next morning and fuel up with our gourmet, multi-course breakfast. That way you’ll be fueled up for another day of adventuring!