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A pre-cruise trip to San Juan Island and Orcas Island

A pre-cruise trip to San Juan Island and Orcas Island

Jun 12th, 2014, 08:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 39
A pre-cruise trip to San Juan Island and Orcas Island

We arrived at the SeaTac Airport in the late morning, picked up the rental car and headed to Mukilteo for the state ferry to Whidbey Island. It cost around $15 for two people and a normal size vehicle to get over to Whidbey Island. We had a small size SUV for the trip. The wait was only 20 minutes for us and the line was not that long on mid-day. The schedule can be found on: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/2014Summer.pdf
And the fares on:
We stopped at Langley, it is a very quaint town to visit. After that, we just drove past most of the towns, and headed towards the Deception State park. It is a very nice state park for a visit if you have more that around the area. We pulled over for a few scenic -view points and stopped at Bowman Bay area for a few short hikes in the area. It was beautiful, and I was hoping to find some sea stars (but no luck) since the tide was low. (We bought the $35 discovery pass on the way since we were going to see a number of the state parks around the area). We continued our journey along the coastal drive to the Anacortes ferry terminal. We planned to take the 8:20 am ferry to Friday harbor the next day.
We had booked a night stay at the Ship Harbor Inn. It was a nice inn with water view and it was newly renovated. We had a good night stay with a nice sunrise the next morning. It is also only a 10-minutes driving to the town center. There are actually a number of state parks in the area for hiking and biking. Breakfast was included for the next morning, so it was very convenient for us to get ready for the ferry. After breakfast, we just drove to the ferry terminal at 7:30am, bought our fares and parked at the designated lane for boarding. After parking our car, we still had time to explore the beach below the harbor, just had to keep in mind the time required to get back on for the ferry.
The ferry over to Friday Harbor is part of the scenic Byway and it was a very good sunny day for us to be on the boat. The scenery was pretty and the ride was very enjoyable. We spotted some whales, but at a distant from the boat. The fares (~$70) paid include a round trip for two of us with a car, and any stops on any islands eastward of Friday Harbor. The plan for us was to go as far as Friday Harbor, stayed over one night, and took an early ride to Orcas Island the next day, and left the island around 5pm for Anacortes.
We walked around the town of Friday Harbor, and continued our scenic drive to Roche Harbor. We spotted a camel in a farm, and took a picture of it. We really like Roche Harbor marina, if one can afford the accommodation of the Historic Inn, it would be very nice to stay around the area. The Historic hotel is just by the water, and the dock is filled with all the pretty expensive boats. It was just a spectacular boat show there if you like all the big and sailing boats. There are a lot of activities in that area, for example, kayaking, whale watching, historic museum, outdoor art garden, and so on. We just strolled by and enjoying the leisure walk. We spent the morning there, and also visited the art sculpture garden.
We continued the journey to English Camp National Historic Park, and did the Young Hill — Hike the fairly steep trail up 650 feet to the top of Young Hill for a panoramic view of the island’s northwest corner. We went on the road and continue our journey. There is an alpaca farm by the road not far away from the English Camp National historic Farm. We were so happy to see these cute animals (just felt like giving them big hugs).
We continued to Lime Kiln State Park, and had a picnic there. It was a very nice there, and the ocean was just so beautiful. It is also called the whale watch park because orcas were spotted playing and feeding in the water quite often. The short trail to the light house was just so nice even though we did not spot any orcas. Just imagine if we could see orcas up close on land near the light house. We enjoyed sitting around hoping that our luck would bring us the orcas.
Later the day, we went to visit the American Camp National Historic Park, and did the Prairie Walks to Grandma’s Cove. It was just spectacular there. There are a number of good trails there, but we just did one, and a very good one indeed. We also drove all the way to Cattle Point before going back to Friday Harbor for the night.
The next day morning, we took the 8:30am ferry from Friday Harbor to Orcas Island, arriving around 9:15am. We planned to visit the Moran State Park, and casually drive along the island. It was a very nice day driving to Moran State Park. We drove up the Mt. Constitution, and it was just spectacular on top. It was a clear day, we could see Mt Baker, and Mt Rainer on the horizon. It was absolutely gorgeous on top of Mount Constitution on a clear, good day like this. We left the park around noon, and drove back to the East Village. We also drove to Deer Harbor later before going back to the ferry landing for our return trip to Anacortes. The return trip to Anacortes was just so pretty. The state ferry journey was one of my favorite parts for this trip.
Cherthor is offline  
Jun 12th, 2014, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,798
Thanks for the report. Your trip is now on my bucket list.
emalloy is offline  
Jun 12th, 2014, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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You should have hit "enter" twice between paragraphs. I don't see too many people reading this.
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
Jul 5th, 2014, 09:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Thanks for taking the time to write this informative report. enjoyed the pictures also.
titus42 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:04 AM
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Posts: 34,448
Thanks for the very interesting report.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:06 AM
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Thanks for this report and I had NO trouble reading it!
schmerl is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:48 AM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 4
Very helpful info as I plan to explore the San Jaun's in August. Maybe you said this somewhere but what time of year was your exploring? I am so wanting to actually see the whales! If you only had 2 days, which islands and sightseeing would you advise?
lyndaweir is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 06:12 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 39
My trip was done in the week before Memorial weekend. We had a full day at San Juan Island (Friday Harbor) and another full day on Orcas Island. We took the 5:20pm ferry back to mainland with our car, but I saw that the summer schedule has changed. Between 2:20pm to 10:50pm, you can only take the 2:20pm, 8:45pm, and 10:50pm ferry schedules with your car. You need to be very careful about the ferry schedules as they are not very flexible and not very frequent. There are a lot of excludes on Sundays too.
I like both islands, but San Juan has a lot more activities, and there are buses that will take you to most of the tourist attractions, except for the American Camp which I really enjoyed. A car provides more mobility on the islands especially on Orcas Island. Orcas Islands is more laid-back, and you will need a car to get around most of the places, unless you want to rent the mopeds there (available on both islands for rental).
If you are lucky, you might be able to spot whales on the ferry, or spot them on whale watch park (Lime Kiln). Or else you will have to go for a whale watch cruise which is plenty to choose from in Friday Harbor.
Cherthor is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 06:57 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,673
Great report. Bookmarking as it is on my bucket list.
charsuzan is offline  
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