8 min read

San Juan Island

San Juan Island
View from top of Young Hill

Fall of 2021, my husband and I went on a trip to San Juan Island which is one of the San Juan islands accessible by ferry just west of Seattle.

Weather when we went was typical PNW weather with overcast skies and light rain so we just brought our raincoats to go exploring. The island wasn't too busy since it was a random fall long weekend so we were able to mosey around a bit.

Our trip was five days in total and that was probably one day too many on the island. We had considered going over to another island for the day but, since it was fall the ferries didn't run very often to other islands. We instead checked out quite a bit and spend sometime relaxing in Friday Harbor at a few restaurants and bars in the afternoons.

I would love to come back in the summer when the weather is nicer and hop around to a few other islands to see what those are all about! Fall was gorgeous with the changing of leaves and I would defiantly like to come back in fall as well.

Quick run down of the trip:

Day One

  • Ferry to San Juan Island from Anacortes
  • Friday Harbor
  • Stay: Lakedale

Day Two

  • Cattle Point Lighthouse
  • South Beach
  • American Camp
  • Mt. Finlayson
  • Stay: Lakedale

Day Three

  • Lime Kiln State Park
  • Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm
  • Young Hill : including English Cemetery
  • English Camp
  • Roche Harbor
  • Stay: Hotel de Haro

Day Four

  • Sculpture Park
  • English Camp : Bell Point
  • San Juan Vineyard
  • Stay: Hotel de Haro

Day Five

  • Ferry back to Anacortes

Day One

  • Sights: Friday Harbor

We drove up to Anacortes and took a ferry over to San Juan Island. The ferry does allow you to make reservations for a car spot but inorder to confirm you get a spot you need to check in when you arrive at the harbor. We arrived early to make sure we got a spot on the boat.


The ferry ride is about an hour and a half ride. Once we got all parked on the ferry we left the car to go explore the boat a bit. There is an upper deck with an inside portion for you to sit while the boat makes the journey and there are a few outer decks. It was a bit cold and breezy so we just spent a little bit of time outside before wondering inside to sit on the plastic chairs. Once we got closer to the islands we went outside again to get a good view as we rounded a few of the other San Juan islands. There were houses right along the coast line of the island with the most gorgeous views!


Once we got into San Juan Island we wandered around the town, Friday Harbor. We stopped by San Juan Brewing Co for some beer and food before heading to where we were staying for the first two nights.

We stayed at Lakedale, which was perfect! We had a lodge room which was right along the deck that overlooks the lake. It was very quaint feeling here and had amazing views. We will definitely be coming back here!

Day Two

  • Sights: Cattle Point Lighthouse, South Beach, American Camp, Mt. Finlayson

We woke up to really pretty overcast views at our accommodation. A bonus of staying at Lakedale is that breakfast is included with a lodge stay. We got omelets made to order and there was an assortment of baked goods and cereal available as well. Since were were all fueled up we headed out to do some exploring on the island.


We explored the south side of the island for our first full day. To kick off the day we drove to Cattle Point Lighthouse where we walked around that area and the little beach just past the lighthouse.



Next we stopped by South Beach which is the longest beach on the island. It was crazy the amount of driftwood that washes up here!


We then drove over to American Camp. This area was up on a fenced meadow with a handful of historic homes that you can walk around. The history of the island is pretty interesting, the ownership of the island was disputed between the Americans and the British in the late 1800s. Due to this dispute over ownership there were military personal from America and Britain here at the same time on opposite ends of the island. More information on that history here


Our last adventure of the day was to hike Mt. Finlayson, which is a 4 mile round trip hike. Don't let the name fool you, there is very little elevation gain in the hike so was more just like walking up a hill than a mountain.


We finished the evening by stopping by Friday Harbor again, this time we checked out Cease and Desist, which is taproom with beers from all over. After a drink we headed to find some dinner in town.


Day Three

  • Sights: Lime Kiln Point State Park, Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, Young Hill, English Camp, Roche Harbor

We packed up and checked out of Lakedale. The next few nights we would be staying in Roche Harbor. First stop for the day was Lime Kiln Point State Park. Here we wondered on a few different trails and made our way to the Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse.




Next we walked down to the lime kiln which is what the park is named after. They used to use this kiln to get the lime out of limestone back in the day and it was burning 24 x 7.


After a bit of walking around at the state park our next stop was at Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. Here there are fields with Alpaca just next to the parking lot and a little shop that sold various items made of Alpaca fur.


We then went on another little hike up Young Hill which is about a two mile round trip hike. About half way up the hike you can stop at English Camp Cemetery. The headstones all list who was buried there and how they died.



After paying our respects we continued onward up Young Hill. This brought us up a little bit in elevation where we could get good views of the sound and other islands. The sun even peaked through the clouds when we got to the top, perfect little treat to see a bit farther out to sea from the top!


Next we hopped in the car and headed to explore English camp, which I do have to say seems like a much better position than American Camp. English Camp was right on the water, so there were spots built for docks. Here there were a lot more structures in tack. The camp was just at the edge of a forest and since it was fall the colors of the trees were amazing!



To finish the day, we drove to Roche Harbor where we would be staying the evening. This area was a almost a little town. There we a ton of really nice houses you could stay in overlooking the harbor. We stayed at Hotel De Haro which is right next to the harbor. This is a historic hotel so it was a bit creaky and small but it was cozy. There was a bed and sink in our room, the shower/bathroom was just down the hall. A covered deck wrapped around the hotel so each room has a little chair and table just outside it.

Dinner options in Roche Harbor in fall are limited so we opted to get a few items from the harbor market to make little cheese and tomato sandwiches. We finished the evening sitting on the decking watching the day fade away over the water.


Day Four

  • Sights: Sculpture Park, English Camp: Bell Point, San Juan Vineyards

We woke up and walked to the little cafe on the harbor for some breakfast and coffee. After breakfast we wondered around the harbor docks a bit to look at all the different fancy boats.

Just down the block from where we were staying was Sculpture Park. There were all sorts of sculptures in the park and it even wanders through the woods a bit with all different types art as you walk around.


We wanted to do a bit more walking so we drove back over to English Camp to do the hike out to Bell Point. This was a nice little stroll through the woods.

It was pretty rainy this day so we took a break from walking in the rain and headed to San Juan Vineyards. This was a cute little winery with an old school house on the property. We were able to sit outside under a covered deck and enjoy a few wine testings.



Day Five

Our final day we woke up early and decided to try to catch an earlier ferry off the island. We lucked out and it was running late so we were able to get one of the last few spots on the ferry. We had to wait in line for about 45 minutes, but there was a coffee shop just across the way which we wondered over to while our car sat in line. It was a clear morning so we were able to watch the island disappear as we headed back to the mainland.