Each of the San Juan Islands is a Jewel of Timeless Beauty.

The San Juan Islands are an archipelago of 172 islands.
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago of 172 islands.

Island History

  • Originally occupied by Indians of the Skagit tribe, the San Juan Islands were “discovered” in 1791 by a Spanish explorer.
  • The San Juan Islands are a small mountain chain created by uplift, carved by glaciers, and then mostly submerged, leaving only the tops of the chain’s peaks and crags visible today.

Interesting Information

  • The San Juan Islands are an archipelago of 172 unique and distinctly beautiful islands located off the coast of Washington State in the Puget Sound.
  • Tucked away in the rain shadow between the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains.
  • Four distinct seasons, beauty and wildlife bursting in every month.
  • Islanders enjoy a temperate climate year-round, with average temperatures ranging from 71 F in the summer to 39 F in the winter.
  • Average rainfall ranges from 19 to 26 inches, half that of nearby Seattle.
  • Serviced daily by Washington State Ferry, as well as flights on Kenmore Air. There is also space on the airstrip for private planes to land.

San Juan Island, the Magical Island

Photography by Mark Gardner
Photography by Mark Gardner
  • Second largest inhabited island in the San Juan Islands and the western-most stop off point for the Washington State Ferry.
  • Home to Friday Harbor, the “Big City” of the San Juan Islands. With a population of 1,900 residents, Friday Harbor offers a small-town feel and a neighborly way of life.
  • Friday Harbor is the seat of government for this San Juan County.
  • San Juan Island has a population of 6,800 residents.
  • Daily visits from the Washington State ferry for inter-island travel, Canada, and Anacortes, Washington.
  • Deep with history. One of the last remaining 19th century fishing villages in the region.

Roche Harbor on San Juan Island

View of Roche Harbor Resort from the docks
View of Roche Harbor Resort from the docks
  • Located at the northwestern tip of San Juan Island.
  • A picturesque turn-of-the-century hamlet that was the site of the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and the largest lime works in the western US a hundred years ago.
  • The sheltered, deep-water harbor serves as a boater’s paradise, and is home to many luxurious boats.
  • Boaters from all over the world dock at Roche Harbor.

Orcas Island, the Emerald Isle

Photography by Mark Gardner
Photography by Mark Gardner
  • This horseshoe-shaped island is the northern-most stop for the Washington State Ferry.
  • During the 19th century, Orcas was home to the Lummi Indians.
  • In 1851, white settlers began arriving on Orcas. They brought the Hudson’s Bay Company with them.
  • In 1905, after making his fortune as a Seattle ship builder, Robert Moran moved to Orcas Island. He built a family mansion, which today is the showpiece of Rosario Resort, just down the hill from 4,000 acre Moran State Park.

Lopez Island, the Friendly Island

Photography by Mark Gardner
Photography by Mark Gardner
  • Five miles wide and twelve miles long, Lopez is the flattest and most pastoral of the San Juan Islands.
  • Offers more public access to beaches than any other island in the San Juan Island archipelago.
  • Home to numerous nationally acclaimed accommodations and restaurants.
  • Popular destination for cyclists, kayakers, and folks looking for a quiet, relaxing vacation.

Shaw Island, the Serene Island

  • Smallest of the four islands serviced by the Washington State Ferry.
  • The eight-square miles of land are almost exclusively privately owned, home to only about 160 full-time residents.
  • Peaceful atmosphere and undisturbed nature offers a haven for anthropologists.

Decatur Island

Photography by Mark Gardner
Photography by Mark Gardner
  • Named after Stephen Decatur, a U.S. naval officer during the war of 1812.
  • Only about sixty year-round residents, but many more seasonal residents.
  • Decatur is divided into 459 parcels, including 107 waterfront parcels.

Blakely Island

  • Named after Johnston Blakely, a U.S. naval commander in the War of 1812.
  • Known as the Flying Island because many of its residents are pilots with homes adjacent to the airport. They simply taxi their planes right up their driveways and park.
  • Offers only seven square miles and holds a total of 276 parcels, including 119 waterfront parcels.