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San Juan Island FAQs | Answers for First-Timers

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Written by Shelley Sharp. Published on March 25, 2018.

getting to the san juans First Time to San Juan Island? You probably have some questions. No worries, this is natural! Our team here at the San Juan Island Inn Collection have the answers to make your first experience as smooth and all-encompassing as possible. It does take a commitment just to get to our little slice of heaven, so having a sense of where things are and what there is to do before you arrive will help free up your precious time. With that in mind, we’ve done some of the work for you!

1. Okay, I’m in Seattle, now what?

Getting to our collection, which includes the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites, is part of the journey and there are a number of options to choose from. If you are driving, the only car-accommodating ferry from Washington State departs from the coastal city of Anacortes, approximately two hours north of Seattle. Depending on the time of year and day of the week, there are between five and seven trips daily. Your fare covers your roundtrip passage. Once your travel plans are solidified, we highly recommend making a reservation for your crossing by visiting: www.wsdot.was.gov/ferries.

annacortes ferry terminal

If you are without a car – no problem! No ferry reservation needed. Plus, you can travel to San Juan Island by air or by sea. To witness the splendor of the archipelago, as well as the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, let us book you a flight on Kenmore Air. Their small fleet of planes leave from two Seattle locations, Boeing Field (that lands at the Friday Harbor airstrip), and Lake Union (a pontoon plane, which lands in the harbor). Both options offer shuttle service from and to SeaTac Airport.

For those looking to cruise through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the high-speed Victoria Clipper from Seattle’s waterfront may be the way to go. Just take a taxi (or the Light Rail) from SeaTac to downtown Seattle, then walk to Pier 69. For a budget-friendly option, the Bellaire Airporter Shuttle will drive you all the way from SeaTac to the Anacortes ferry landing – then just walk aboard. Also, if Bellingham is a more convenient jumping-off point, San Juan Airlines will get you here.

2. Okay, I’m here. Now how do I get around?

Again, we have you covered.

3. I only have a few days. What shouldn’t I miss?

  • whale watching in the san juans Whales and wildlife
    • We work with all of the island’s tour companies. Call us for personalized concierge service at (360) 378-3587
  • Saturday Farmer’s Market – just a block away
  • Sunset at South Beach or Lime Kiln State Park
  • A scenic hike to Mount Finlayson
  • Pelindaba Lavender Farm
  • Feasting on local seafood and meats, produce, baked goods, ice cream, coffee and more at the island’s artisan eateries – might we suggest Coho Restaurant, the San Juan Island Inn Collection’s farm-to-table fine dining restaurant? Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

4. I plan to stay for a while. Is there enough to do on a small island?

As residents, we will assure you that there is plenty to keep you occupied during your longer stay.

Things to do in the san juans

  • Window shop for boats. If living aboard a vessel is one of your bucket list items,  San Juan Island’s marinas are a storefront of ships in all sizes and shapes!
  • Spend time on the island’s northern end. Roche Harbor boasts a historic inn, marina and restaurants. A leisurely stroll through the 19-acre San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, with an eclectic mix of over 100 art pieces is a great way to get some exercise. Dog owners will be thrilled to know that the reserve is dog-friendly.
  • Take a family portrait. Looking for a location for your next holiday card? Head to one of the island’s lighthouses or beaches for backdrops of the Olympic Mountains and picturesque skylines.
  • Catch a show or enjoy some music. The San Juan Island Community Theatre hosts performances all year long and is within walking distance. Plus, beginning this summer, both the Harrison and Tucker Houses will feature live music nights on property with Innkeeper, Patrick Klausen!
  • Visit a museum on a rainy day. The Whale Museum, Island Museum of Art, San Juan Historical Museum and others, will keep you educated and entertained when you can’t get outside..
  • Sleep in! It’s your vacation, right? Why not let time stand still? You’ve got a huge, cozy, feather-top bed in your suite after all.

do i need a passport for the san juans

5. Do I need a passport?

No. We get this one all the time. Unless you plan to make Canada a stop on your Pacific Northwest adventure, you don’t need much of anything but a good pair of walking shoes, windbreaker, sense of adventure and appetite.

6. Can you help me plan outings and activities?

Absolutely! We work collaboratively with local businesses to customize your once-in-a-lifetime vacation. As guests of the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites, your first-time stay should be stress-free and memorable. At the San Juan Island Inn Collection it is our goal to create memories that will bring you back for years to come.


We’ll see you at check in!

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