The San Juan Islands are one of the most popular getaways in Washington State for many reasons. From open water to rocky beaches, pastoral tranquility, quaint villages, fabulous dining, mountain lakes, old-growth forest, and spectacular vistas—you will get a taste of it all on this 4-day adventure! There is no better place to wander, explore and relax than on this charming Puget Sound archipelago.
It is unlikely you will be able to see everything you would like to see in the San Juan Islands in just 4 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 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 San Juan Island, and kayak from historic Friday 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. Take 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. Kayaking tour included!
DAY 1: Deception Pass and 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.
Deception Pass—2-3 miles, sea level
Day 2: Sea Kayaking
The waters of Puget Sound are famous for their sea-kayaking opportunities, including the potential to spot orca whales. Start off the morning with dry-land kayak instruction, then paddle with your guides along the rocky shores. Enjoy an entire day on the water. Kelp forests, bald eagles, seals and sun-worshiping sea lions await! Walk down to the water at picturesque Lime Kiln to see if the whales are around. If we don’t see orcas today, don’t fret – there are more opportunities to see the from land tomorrow as well. We will leave some extra time in the evening 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.
Day 3: San Juan Island
Today we explore San Juan Island on foot. Both the human history and the natural history of this relatively small island are astounding. Visit picturesque Roche Harbor in the morning before heading to English Camp to hear the story of the little known “Pig War” between England and the United States, and for a short hike to a nice view on Young Hill. Enjoy lunch and a walk down to the water to check for whales at Lime Kiln State Park. Three resident orca (killer whale) pods call the San Juan Islands home. Their families are so tightly knit that each has its own language! If we miss them here, don’t fret – our next stop, American Camp, is another good place to spot them, too. From American Camp (at the opposite end of the island), walk to South Beach, the longest public beach in the San Juan Islands. Rife with wildflowers in the spring and early summer, you might think you’d been transported to the southern California coastline were it not for the snowcapped mountain backdrop. 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 – some 125 miles!
5-6 miles, 600′ gain
Day 4: Mount Constitution
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.
4.5 miles, 2100’ gain (options for easier, too)