It is unlikely you will be able to see everything you would like to see in the San Juan Islands in just 3 days, but if that’s all the time you have, we feel this tour will give you the absolute best in the region.
Experience the wonders of most-visited State Park in Washington State at Deception Pass. Scan the waters for seals, porpoises, and resident pods of orca whales from the decks of the ferry on our way to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Kayak from historic Roche Harbor. You won’t want to miss Lime Kiln State Park, either – considered one of the best places for whale watching on the planet! Whether or not you see whales, the setting is equally spectacular. Soak in the views of the Olympic Mountains from the rocky beaches near Cattle Point. In addition, you will have ample time to explore charming and picturesque Friday Harbor, relax in our great lodging and sample some of the world-class dining for which the town is famous. Last (but definitely not least!), ferry to Orcas Island and hike up Mt. Constitution for the absolute best view anywhere in the islands. We guarantee you won’t want to go home.
The flow of the tour has been crafted to maximize your time outside. We’ll be walking, exploring and learning together every day. All of the hikes can accommodate a wide range of ability levels and interests.
Day 1: Deception Pass & San Juan Island
Deception Pass. Ferry Ride. Welcome to San Juan Island!
To break up the drive from Seattle to the ferry this morning we begin our explorations at Deception Pass between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands. Check out hidden coves, lush forests, rocky cliffs, sand dunes, a lake, and a dizzying bridge… it is no wonder this is Washington’s most popular State Park. After lunch, it is a quick drive to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal – Gateway to the San Juan Islands. Enjoy a scenic ferry ride to Friday Harbor, “one of the most beautiful towns in America,” according to Conde Nast Traveler. Get settled at the beautifully restored, historic Tucker House Inn for a two-night stay. Continue exploring town or nearby locations before strolling to dinner by the water at Downriggers.
Walking Distances: Deception Pass—variable mileage
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Day 2: Kayaks, Whales and Beaches
Sea-Kayaking. Whale Watching. Lighthouses. Beach.
The peaceful waters of Roche Harbor are the perfect place for first-time kayakers. Start off the morning with dry-land kayak instruction, then paddle with your guides along the harbor’s rocky shores. Kelp forests, bald eagles, seals and sun-worshiping sea lions await! Enjoy lunch and a walk down to the water at picturesque Lime Kiln to see if the whales are around. If we miss them, don’t fret – they also frequently pass by our next stop along the water at Cattle Point. At American Camp, hear the story of the little known “Pig War” between England and the United States as we walk to South Beach, the longest public beach in the San Juan Islands. Watch for deer and foxes as you savor views of the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mt Rainier from here – 125 miles! We will leave some time for those who want to enjoy more of Friday Harbor before we meet for dinner at the acclaimed Coho Restaurant, a farm-to-table favorite featuring island-grown specialties with a Mediterranean flair.
Walking Distances: South Beach and Cattle Point: about 3 miles, 200’ gain
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Day 3: Mount Constitution
Old-Growth Forest. Mountain Lakes. Spectacular Vistas.
After breakfast at the Inn, we board the ferry to Orcas Island where you will find Mt. Constitution – the highest point in the islands – swathed in colossal evergreens and fern-filled forests. In this magical place, spring-fed, crystal-clear freshwater lakes rest atop a mountain on an island surrounded by salt water. The trail to the summit passes through the last remaining old-growth forest on the islands. No, the climb isn’t easy, but your efforts are rewarded with the most spectacular water view in the Puget Sound region! Go for a swim to cool off before we make our way back to the ferry terminal. Another beautiful ferry ride returns us to Anacortes, and eventually Seattle.
Walking Distance: – – 4.5 miles. 2100’ gain (options for easier, too)
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San Juan Island Details
- Tour Highlights
- Is This Tour for Me?
- Tour Inclusions
- Accommodations & Food
- Customizations for Your Family or Group
- Additional Information
- Tour Preparation
Enjoy two nights at Tucker House Inn in Friday Harbor.
Explore the diversity of the San Juan Islands in three days. Walk coasts and beaches; go kayaking; eat fabulous food; hike through forests; summit a mountain!
Naturalist guides connect you to the story behind the scenery!
If you want to do more than just hike and see the sights, our naturalist guides will help you connect with the story behind the natural wonders of this diverse region.
This tour is suitable for all hiking abilities.
- Naturalist tour leader
- Kayaking – ½ day tour.
- Overnight accommodations – all included
- We will pack our trail lunches from fresh, local, organic (where possible) ingredients.
- Full breakfasts – all included
- Full dinners – including appetizers. (Alcohol at restaurants is not provided.)
- Ferry fees and transportation.
- Snacks, water, sparkling water, local wine, local beer, etc.
- Tucker House Inn was selected for this tour due to its proximity to Friday Harbor as well as its excellent hospitality.
- All breakfasts are at our accommodations.
- We go for a nice dinner on the waterfront one night and treat ourselves to award-winning dining at the Coho Restaurant on night two.
- We are happy to tailor the tour to suit your desires and budget! See “CUSTOMIZATIONS” (below) for other ideas and options for your group.
Accommodations and restaurants abound on the San Juan Islands, making the tour eminently customizable. We also offer the following ideas for creating a different experience or more economic tour for your group. We are happy to discuss these and other possibilities with you!
The only budget accommodations we recommend are at the Wayfarers Rest Hostel in Friday Harbor. This is where our guides usually stay. It’s a true hostel, with a common kitchen and shared bathrooms.
You may choose to pay for breakfasts and dinners on your own.
The hikes are easily customized (shortened or extended) to meet the desires or abilities of your group.
The tour can be lengthened by a day to include cycling on Lopez Island – known as “the bicyclist’s island” for its gentler terrain and light traffic.
We do not recommend an overnight (2-day) tour due the travel time required getting to and from the Islands from Seattle.
SEASONS (What to expect):
The San Juan Islands receive less rain than elsewhere in the region due to their location in the partial rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains.
The tour can be run any time of the year.
Summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, is the busiest season.
Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day are good times to visit as well. The weather is usually good, and things slow down tremendously. The Islands have a completely different pace and feel during these “shoulder” seasons.
Below is a suggested list of items that you may want to bring on your upcoming hiking tour. When packing, remember that the weather can offer surprises, especially in the mountains. Plan to dress in layers and carry extra clothing every day for lunch and rest stops.
- Hiking pants or convertible pants
- Casual clothes—jeans, shorts, sport shirts
- Dinner clothes—nice casual attire is fine
- Hiking boots suitable for rocky trails
- Casual shoes
- Hiking socks (no cotton) and casual socks
- Sweater or light jacket
- Waterproof jacket
- Bathing suit for hot tubs and spas
- Camera, extra batteries, charger, and memory cards; dry bag (optional)
- Daypack with hydration system
- Driver’s license
- National Parks or Federal Recreation Lands Pass (optional; bring it if you have one)
- Reading material
- Ball cap for sun protection
- Sunglasses – dark enough for snow and bright sun
- Insect repellant of choice
- Toiletries and blister kit
- Vitamins and / or prescription drugs
- Extra set of glasses or contacts
- Small headlamp or flashlight
- Trekking poles (collapsible)
- A spirit of adventure
Additional Items for Cooler Seasons and High Elevations
- Baselayer shirts and tights
- Long sleeve fleece or mid-weight jacket suitable for active hiking
- Warm jacket for mornings and evenings
- Fleece or wool hat
- Winter gloves
- Thermal socks
- Wool sweater
- Waterproof rain gear