Written by Toni Shiurba, Published on December 13, 2017
Paul McCartney said it best with the song “Can’t Buy Me Love”. His 1964 recording about what is important in life is recognized the world over. Even though the Beatles became fabulously wealthy, this song highlights the value of love. Love makes the world go round. It fuels the mechanisms that formulate the improbable and father the impossible. And now that you have found the person who believes you can do whatever you put your mind to, how do you go about honoring this bond with a ceremony to make it official? Are you an adventurous, non-traditional sort? Do you need a little more freedom and fresh air? Then, I have a plan for you! Or rather, a bare bones kind of suggestion. Why not elope?
Yes! Throw off the customary wedding traditions. Dare to make this important commitment in your own unique manner. Why not travel somewhere significant for you and your soon to be, forever friend? And what better place than the San Juan Island? As a longtime local, these are what I would consider to be the best places to elope on San Juan Island.
1. Tucker House Inn
The Tucker House Inn in Friday Harbor makes a charming choice for your wedding day and honeymoon. The 1898 Victorian style Inn is surrounded by a white picket fence. Muted green with white trim and a splash of accent colors give it a Gingerbread feeling. Perfect for a storybook elopement or renewal of precious vows.
The Tucker House offers services to take care of just about every aspect of your intimate ceremony. Is a special wedding cake what you desire? They have a pastry chef to bake it for you. Wedding dinner a must? Coho Restaurant has you covered. The Inn and Coho Restaurant are famous in our town for the best of the best.You can’t go wrong!
A wedding coordinator is available to bring together the perfect day for the couple and any guests. Need room accommodations, a photographer, florist, videographer or music? Their wedding planner will help with arranging and suggesting as much or as little as you desire.
2. Lime Kiln Park
Picture this: A massive, stone lighthouse with towering spires and magnificent views, rising up from a rocky point along the Westside of San Juan Island. Seafaring ships in the early 1900’s relied on the flashes of light from its’ beacon to keep from crashing onto the rocky reef. Imagine the romantic memories you could capture with the sea and stone lighthouse as the background when you elope.
Lime Kiln Point State Park has colossal Firs and deep crimson barked Madrona trees. Forty-one acres invite discovery. Rock-walled pathways along the cliffs make for great places to linger and watch the sea life that passes by.
Resident Orca whales spy hop, tail slap, breech and roll through the surf as they hunt for salmon near the shore. Eagles soar overhead. Minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and the occasional Humpback may be the audience for your elopement.
This site is a photographers’ and wildlife lovers’ dream come true.
The Park is open from 8am to dusk every day from May to October.
3. Reuben Tarte
If you seek gorgeous vistas and pebble-strewn beaches, let me turn your attention in a new direction. Reuben Tarte State Park can rival any of the big, sandy beaches in the San Juan Islands. Located on the northeast side of San Juan Island, two cozy, small pebble coves are the hidden treasures you will find. These low bank beaches are the perfect entry points for first time and seasoned scuba divers.
Singing pink scallops blow bubbles as they puff up and down in the sapphire blue water. I’ve witnessed their perfect dance while on my own underwater adventure. If you are lucky, the Giant Pacific Octopus may join the party!
Limestone rock forms the headland rising between the two beaches. Weathered logs and the occasional agate or two sit patiently for discovery. Not an underwater fan? Bring a kayak for two and give your ceremony a sendoff on top of the waves.
Open everyday dawn to dusk all year long. This is your best bet for a lot of privacy and underwater or topside discoveries.
4. Pelindaba Lavender Farm
Pelindaba Lavender Farm has twenty-five acres of serenity waiting for those that love the color purple. Surrounded by a sea of calming, sweet smelling, violet flowers, makes the perfect scene for an island elopement.
Whether in bright sunlight or the silhouettes of dusk, this garden is the embodiment of nature’s splendor. All the composition needs is the happy couple. Wha La! The ideal portrait is complete! You can even design your own Lavender headdress to top off your ensemble.
July through October are the best months for your celebration with July being the peak blooming time. Pelindaba Lavender Farm is open 9:30-5:30 May through October.
5. Grandma’s Cove
Grandmas’s Cove is a pleasant stroll from the visitor center at American Camp on the Southern end of San Juan Island. Here the gulls and sanderlings patrol the tide pools for miniature crab, mussels, limpets and tiny Sculpin fish. Protected on both sides with rocky headlands, this half moon bays’ water is warmed by the summer sun. Come on in. The water is fine! Brisk but fine!
Fir, Spruce and Madrona driftwood crown the sandy crescent making perfect perching spots for relaxing visitors. The view is directly at the steep peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Cobalt blue water meets snow-capped jagged mountain range topped by baby blue skies. Now that’s a photo opportunity.
Lover of boats or Native American totems? Fairweather Park can be found at the top of Friday Harbor’s boat marina. One short block from the ferry, this little green space is home to a two-post totem created by a renowned Musqueam carver, Susan Point.
Learn from the interpretive signs about the original Coast Salish People who populated the island. Gaze out at the marina boats and watch the Washington State Ferry as it arrives and departs. Truly a postcard effect!
Let Us Make Your Elopement Perfect
Where do you find your sense of place? Which places on earth elicit a smile from deep within your spirit and foster a connection that makes you happy? Try one of these locations on San Juan Island for your perfect day. Check out one of our elopement packages.