Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

ONP-San Juan Islds or Victoria-Seattle - what's best itinerary for 8 days?

ONP-San Juan Islds or Victoria-Seattle - what's best itinerary for 8 days?

Jul 22nd, 2014, 08:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 6
ONP-San Juan Islds or Victoria-Seattle - what's best itinerary for 8 days?

My sister and I have 8 full days (fly in late Wed Sept 3, fly out early Fri Sept 12) and are torn between two itineraries, and whether we are "doing" ONP "correctly" and whether we should just kick back in Seattle after ONP, or if we should visit either Victoria/Vancouver Island, or the San Juan Islands instead of Seattle sighseeing. Any insight and suggestions will be appreciated! We are confused and making ourselves crazy over all the options!! As it stands now, this is our itinerary:

Arrive late sleep airport hotel

Light rail to downtown Seattle & pick up rental car
Ferry to Bainbridge Island, drive to ONP
Stay at Cabins at Beaver Creek (Rixon Rd in Beaver)

Hike Hurricane Ridge
Stay at Cabins

Madison Falls, Crescent Lake, Ruby Beach
Stay at Cabins

Hoh Rain Forest
Drive back, take ferry at dusk to Seattle

MON 8 - Thurs 11
Seattle, maybe a day trip (Clipper to San Juans?)

FRI 12
Fly home early morn

1 - Are we making a mistake spending 3 nights at same lodging in ONP? Will his mean too much driving back and forth, given that we want to see hurricane ridge, hoh rainforest, ruby beach, crescent lake? Are we better off spending our first ONP night in Port Angeles? We were thinking that by staying in the same place all 3 nights we could pick the clearest day to hike Hurricane Ridge, but maybe we're off-base.

2 - we don't want to run ourselves ragged, we do want to just "be" somewhere and explore without traveling somewhere new every day and we don't want to spend too much time driving and waiting for ferries so we thought it best to just go back to Seattle after ONP, but it seems a shame to miss the islands and given that I live in a city (NYC), as much as I’d love to explore Seattle, maybe we DO have enough time remaining to see island(s) without running ourselves ragged. Does the following adjustment to our itinerary seem realistic?

Hoh Rain Forest,
Drive to Port Townsend and stay the night

Early ferry to Whidbey Island. Drive to Anacortes ferry to San Juan Isld
Stay xyz?

Orcas kayak/whale watch or Lopez bike ride
Stay xyz?

WED 10
ferry back to Anacortes
Drive to Seattle, turn in car
Dinner on waterfront

Pike market & coffee
Explore city

FRI 12
Fly home

A third Itinerary would be Vancouver Island instead of the San Juans if that is less hassle from/after ONP.

Thank you in advance, we are overwhelmed trying to figure this out, never having been to the Pacific NW!!
cindy1nyc is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 09:30 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Your second plan would be more fun for me, but you're not giving enough time to ONP and you seem to have the impression that the Hoh Rain Forest is the only must-see attraction there. We prefer Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls, La Push, Rialdo Beach and other mores accessible highlights.


PS when you take the easy hike to Marymere Falls you will pass through a rain forest--an area that receives almost as much rain as Hoh.
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 09:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,074
I think you're trying to pack WAY too much into your short amount of time here. Especially when you are talking going to the islands you need to allow for a (potentially) leisurely pace, like waiting for ferries, etc.

As far as the "Clipper to the San Juans" you mentioned... I thought the Victoria Clipper only went to Victoria??? And because it's 3 hours each way, makes for a very LONG day trip (but can be done).

either Whidbey Island or Snoqualmie Falls makes for an easy day trip from Seattle if you have a rental car.
suze is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,605
I would scratch Ruby Beach and include Rialto Beach at La Push instead - less driving (maybe half an hour from your lodgings) and you could easily include Rialto and the Hoh valley in the same day - Hoh in the morning, Rialto around sunset, maybe.

I like the San Juans but I think your time would be awfully squeezed, especially with two islands. Early September isn't as crowded as before Labor Day, but the islands will be far from empty.

I'd consider instead a day trip to Victoria on the Coho ferry from Port Angeles. Leave the car in PA and you can see plenty in the Inner Harbour area - much cheaper. Don't forget passports.

You could also spend a day on Whidbey Island in lieu of the San Juans - huge variety, some spectacular parks (such as Deception Pass - amazing) and cute waterfront towns like Coupeville or Langley.

If all that results in an extra day, I'd also probably look at a day trip to Mount Rainier from Seattle. September is a great time for the mountain, e.g. http://gardyloo.us/20120903_677s.JPG

If you're cyclists, Seattle is a great biking town, with a long and very varied trail, various waterfront bike paths, plenty of bike rental places.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 01:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 6
Gardyloo, thanks much! These are great suggestions. I guess we are suffering from FOMO/Fear of Missing Out. Given that we can visit a coastal beach on the same day we visit Hoh, do you think cutting our ONP time back a day would make sense, and then give us more time to do SJI without it being a squeeze? As it stands now we have 3 nights and 4 days ONP ... we could change that to 2 nights and 3 days. That makes SJI more reasonable, but maybe we're then squeezing ONP? I know there's no right answer but I'd love to hear what you think of that.
cindy1nyc is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
What is it an "onp"?
BigRuss is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,319
It stands for Olympic National Park
mms is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 39
The four ferry-served San Juan Islands—Orcas, Lopez, San Juan and Shaw—have their own distinct flavor and charm. The most visited islands are San Juan (Friday Harbor) and Orcas. I went visiting these two islands this spring, and absolutely love them. The ferry journey itself was such a beautiful journey on a good day. September is a good month to spot whales, I did see some whales from far while taking the ferry. It is just luck if you spot them either on land or while taking the ferry.

If you plan properly, you will be able to visit two islands on two days, just make sure your ferry schedules and make effort to stick with the schedule. Going with a car will give you the flexibility to move around, which is a very good thing. Do check the ferry schedule the day before you want to leave the islands, as they change the schedule from summer to fall schedule, and remember to check those fine prints as well. You only need to pay once going westbound, and any eastbound will be free.

You can monitor the live videos on this web : http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/vess...ail.aspx#term1

That was how I figure the schedule to arrive at the port, and September month should be less crowded as schools have begun. I also stayed a night at this Ship Harbor Inn which is just next to the Anacortes harbor, which gave me plenty of time to get ready for the early ride to Friday Harbor. If you want you can check on my report and take a look at my pictures.

Happy traveling!
Cherthor is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Nov 1st, 2018 06:25 AM
United States
Feb 24th, 2018 03:38 PM
United States
Jun 8th, 2016 08:22 AM
United States
Jul 15th, 2009 10:46 PM
United States
Jun 5th, 2005 08:35 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:47 PM.