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  • Writer's pictureSarah

San Juan Island Day Trip

We took a little day trip out to San Juan Island for the first sunny day Washington has seen in a while!


We took a 9:00am ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. I highly suggest, as does the Washington State Department of Transportation, to make a reservation online and arrive 1 hour early to your departure time. We were lucky enough to slip onto an earlier ferry in both directions because we arrived early.

Our ferry to Friday Harbor made a stop at Orcas Island to pick up some travelers before arriving to our final destination. This made our ride about 90 minutes.


I was on a hunt for lighthouses. To be entirely honest, I wanted the Instagram-worthy photo with a lighthouse. Because why not?

So we set out toward Cattle Point to see this little lighthouse. Just as you reach the top of the hill, you can catch a glimpse of the Cattle Point Lighthouse. At the bottom of the hill, there is a parking area with a couple trails that will take you to the lighthouse. A Discover Pass is required to park here. I completely forgot to grab the pass out of my car and put it into Michael's, and we didn't see a day pay station, so we turned around and headed to a different park.

Instead we stopped at South Beach. Drift wood scattered the rocky beach and grassy plains filled with fox holes separated the beach and the road.

This area felt so surreal. With the incline to to road, the vast grassy plains, and the many rock-lined trails through the fields, it felt like we had been transported somewhere else. Michael and I both agreed that this place might be the closest you could get to Scotland without leaving the Pacific Northwest. All it was missing was gusty winds and sheep.


We piled back into the car and traveled north through the farmlands to Lime Kiln Point State Park.

This was the next stop on my hunt for lighthouses, and this one did not disappoint. A pay station was present, and I happily donated $10 to the Washington State Parks for the day.

A little trail takes you down toward the water. Picnic tables allow for perfect lunch spots next to the cliffs. One trail leads to Deadman Bay and another leads toward the lighthouse. We took the opportunity to visit the lighthouse instead of walking through all the trails.

This Park is said to be the best whale watching spot in the world, as you can catch a glimpse of them playing in the water just from the cliffs. Unfortunately, the whales had last been spotted January 24th, two weeks before our trip. Which just means we'll have to come back in their regular season to play more in this park!


Around 2:00pm we headed back toward Friday Harbor for some lunch.

We found that we had visited the Island during off-season and on a Sunday, so not many places were open. If you are looking to browse the shops, I suggest going Monday-Saturday from March to November.

Herb's Tavern was open, so we snuck in for a late lunch.


Lunch took less time than expected, and we still had over an hour to kill until we were to be back for our ferry home. Atticus needed one last potty break and a good run around, so we headed back to South Beach.

The clouds began to break and golden hour was upon us, making this already surreal area even more magical.


We arrived back to Friday Harbor just in time to hop on the 4:25pm ferry and catch an absolutely gorgeous sunset.

I HIGHLY recommend taking a sunset ferry. It turned out to be a magical and romantic experience.


We didn't realize how large San Juan Island is. It is entirely doable to drive around in one day, but that doesn't leave a lot of time for stopping and enjoying the views. So now I am definitely planning a weekend trip to the island sometime this coming summer.

On our day trip we missed out on stopping at American Camp, English Camp, and the Whale Museum, which we'll definitely need to to add to a weekend getaway. We completely skipped over Roche Harbor and the northern end of San Juan Island. Not to mention a majority of the tourist shops aren't open until March at the earliest. Michael and I have also mulled over the idea of taking an air tour over the San Juan's. Looks like we'll have a weekend full of fun ahead of us!

All in all, our little day trip to San Juan Island was pretty magical, if I do say so myself.


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