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  • Washington: San Juan Islands Exploration
Overview

Discover the breathtaking nature and laid-back culture of the San Juan Archipelago

Off the coast of Washington lies a group of islands that make up the San Juan Archipelago. Known for pristine landscapes, thriving orca populations, and a laid-back vibe, the San Juan Islands are a refreshing escape from the bustling mainland.

At one time, the islands were occupied and disputed over by both the British and the Americans. Today, parks protect the diverse ecosystem, home to orcas, bald eagles, sea lions, and more, and artists draw inspiration from the peaceful nature all around.

On this Boundless Journeys tour, we visit the two largest of the San Juan Islands — at island pace, of course. Enjoy sweeping mountaintop views on San Juan Island and explore galleries and artists’ studios on Orcas Island. Delight in fresh-caught seafood at renowned restaurants, ending each day at relaxing accommodations in bucolic settings.

A short ferry ride from Seattle but seemingly a world away, our Boundless Journeys tour captures the scenic beauty and relaxed pace of life that makes the San Juan Islands truly special.

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Itinerary &
Accommodations

Itinerary & Accommodations

Day 1

Arrival, San Juan Island, & American Camp

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours

Welcome to San Juan Island! Your guide will meet you in Friday Harbor upon arrival of your the San Juan Clipper from Seattle. Soak in the welcoming ambiance and relaxed pace of life as we stroll this historic town's square-mile of galleries, museums and cafes.

The second-largest of the islands in the archipelago, San Juan has the largest population, at around 7,000. A tranquil haven of thriving farmlands and quiet forests, San Juan Island attracts artists, sportsmen, and outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

From Friday Harbor, we'll make our way to the foot of Mt. Grant where we begin our ascent to the summit. We hike past towering Douglas firs and colorful wildflowers to reach a sweeping 360-degree panorama of mountains, islands, and water. Clear views reveal the Cascades, the Olympics, and Mt. Rainier, as well as Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

In the afternoon, we head to the American Camp area at the southern part of San Juan Island. Here, we stroll the grassy slopes of the long-deserted Belle Vue Sheep Farm towards picturesque Grandmas Cove. We continue our hike along the coast, overlooking the scenic Strait of Juan de Fuca. After a visit to sandy South Beach, we return to the trailhead to visit the site of the American Camp. Claimed by both the British and the Americans, tensions on San Juan Island escalated into the "Pig War" when a British pig found its way into an American garden. Each side established a war camp. Today, we'll visit the relics of the American Camp's historic buildings including the officer's quarters and the building that housed the camp's laundress'.

This evening, we return from our hike to settle into our lakeside accommodation before dinner at a favorite local restaurant, featuring cuisine made from locally-sourced ingredients from the land and sea.

Accommodations
Snug Harbor Resort

Snug Harbor Resort
Friday Harbor, USA

Snug Harbor’s incredible setting is unparalleled on San Juan Island. It’s perfectly located for adventures throughout the islands or as an ideal place to unwind and relax. Wi-fi is avialable throughout the property and all cabins and suites offer uninterrupted stunning views of Mitchell Bay.

Day 2

Whale-watch & Roche Harbor

  • Activity Overview: Whale-watching, walking
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 1-2 hours

This morning, we head to the harbor to explore the waters around San Juan Island on an exciting whale watching boat tour. Keep an eye out for the playful humpbacks, inquisitive minkes, and majestic orcas that call these waters home. Year after year, the same whales return to the area, and your friendly guides will give you a rundown of who's who. An area rich in marine wildlife, other animals we're likely to see include harbor seals, Dall's porpoise, and sea lions.

Back on land this afternoon, we'll make a visit to the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park at Roche Harbor. The walking paths of the 20-acre park allow us to explore an outdoor collection of over 150 sculptures. Stroll past a scenic pond and through open meadows admiring artwork by local, national, and emerging artists.

Tonight's relaxing dinner is at another local favorite, where you'll get a taste for genuine San Juan hospitality along with delicious homemade food.

Accommodations
Snug Harbor Resort

Snug Harbor Resort
Friday Harbor, USA

Snug Harbor’s incredible setting is unparalleled on San Juan Island. It’s perfectly located for adventures throughout the islands or as an ideal place to unwind and relax. Wi-fi is avialable throughout the property and all cabins and suites offer uninterrupted stunning views of Mitchell Bay.

Day 3

English Camp & kayaking Griffin Bay

  • Activity Overview: Walking & kayaking
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 2-4 hours walking, 3 hours kayaking

Today, we head to the north side of San Juan Island to visit English Camp, the counterpart to American Camp. After a tour of the Visitors' Center, we take a path towards Garrison Bay where we'll find the camp's historic buildings. Once a vast compound, the blockhouse and commissary still remain, while the Visitors' Center occupies the barracks. We'll stop to admire the camp's lush formal garden, with its manicured flower beds and shrubs — a recreation of the original garden, which served as a beautiful reminder of the officers' English home.

From English Camp, we follow a forested trail along the shore of the bay to Westcott Bay Shellfish Farm, a cooperative aquaculture farm. If time allows, we may also stop at a local distillery to sample handmade shrubs and gins.

After lunch, we head out from Friday Harbor on kayaks. No experience is necessary as our kayak guides will provide basic instruction. We glide through the serene waters in the shadow of Mt. Baker in search of pelagic wildlife as we explore the tidal zone of Griffin Bay. We paddle around Dinner Island and enjoy splendid views of the Olympic Mountains cresting above Cattle Pass.

Upon landing back in Friday Harbor you may choose to either return to the hotel to freshen up before dinner or wander the studios and galleries with sculptures, paintings, jewelry, pottery, and other crafts. The inspiring natural beauty of the San Juan Islands attracts artists of all kinds, making Friday Harbor the perfect place to view original works by the area's artists.

After our full day, we'll gather again for dinner.

Accommodations
Snug Harbor Resort

Snug Harbor Resort
Friday Harbor, USA

Snug Harbor’s incredible setting is unparalleled on San Juan Island. It’s perfectly located for adventures throughout the islands or as an ideal place to unwind and relax. Wi-fi is avialable throughout the property and all cabins and suites offer uninterrupted stunning views of Mitchell Bay.

Day 4

Orcas Island & Moran State Park

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours

This morning we board a ferry for Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands. Its hilly terrain and dense woodland offer exciting opportunities for hiking and walking, and the island's horseshoe shape has an extensive coastline with secluded bays and beaches.

Although its name is similar to the area's endangered whale, the name Orcas actually comes from "Horcasitas," the name of the Mexican viceroy whose expeditions arrived in the area in the late 1700s.

From the ferry dock at Orcas Village, we transfer to Moran State Park on the opposite side of the island. With 38 miles of hiking trails, five freshwater lakes, and the archipelago's highest mountain, Mt. Constitution, opportunities to explore the island's diverse landscape abound. Here, we'll stroll beside picturesque lakes, trek to secluded waterfalls, and ascend towering Mt. Constitution. From the stone lookout at the mountain's summit, we're treated to sweeping views of the San Juan Archipelago islands scattered through deep blue waters, with Mt. Baker and the North Cascade mountains in the distance.

Next, we visit the spa at Doe Bay Resort & Retreat (optional) where heated, outdoor, saltwater soaking tubs soothe tired muscles and melt away stress. Admire stunning views of the bay from the tubs or spend some time relaxing in the spa's dry sauna.

Once we're thoroughly refreshed from the spa, we check in to the night's charming inn.

Accommodations
Rosario Resort

Rosario Resort
Eastsound, USA

The historic Moran Mansion, listed on the National Historic Register, is the centerpiece for the resort and marina spread out on 30 acres along the shores of Cascade Bay on Orcas Island. The Mansion houses waterfront dining and a full-service spa, including an outdoor pool and whirlpool. All rooms offer spectacular water views, with most guest rooms located directly on the water.

Day 5

Art studios & farms

  • Activity Overview: Walking
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 1-2 hours

After breakfast, we set out to explore the studios and galleries, which feature the works of Orcas Island's many artists. From pottery to jewelry, painting to glasswork, photography to stonework, Orcas Island is home to a thriving community of local artists. We'll stop to admire artwork and speak to the artists themselves about their craft. As we peruse the studios and galleries, perhaps you'll discover a special piece to bring home.

Throughout the day, we'll visit with local farmers whose bounty graces the tables of the island's restaurants and kitchens. We'll also have a chance to speak with the vegetable farmers, ranchers, and crafters responsible for supplying the ingredients for tonight's dinner at a restaurant in town.

Accommodations
Rosario Resort

Rosario Resort
Eastsound, USA

The historic Moran Mansion, listed on the National Historic Register, is the centerpiece for the resort and marina spread out on 30 acres along the shores of Cascade Bay on Orcas Island. The Mansion houses waterfront dining and a full-service spa, including an outdoor pool and whirlpool. All rooms offer spectacular water views, with most guest rooms located directly on the water.

Day 6

Departure

On our final morning on the San Juan Islands, we transfer to Orcas Village to board the ferry. Enjoy the views of Shaw, Lopez, and Blakely Islands on the way to Anacortes. From here, we transfer to Seattle for journeys home or more west coast adventuring.

Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.

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Dates &
Prices

Dates And Prices

2021
Trip Length

6 Days

Trip Dates

Jul 11-16, 2021

Aug 8-13, 2021

2021 Land Cost

From $3,895 Per Person


Single Supplement

First two reserved:$285

Additional:$785

See single supplement policy below.

Pricing Notes

MAKE IT PRIVATE

9+ Guests: $3,895 per person

4-8 Guests: $4,295 per person

Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals as noted on itinerary
  • Local beer and wine with dinner
  • All on-tour transportation
  • All activities as noted in the itinerary
  • Explorers Club savings on your next scheduled, small-group trip (conditions apply)
Single Supplement Policy

Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.

If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!

*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.

What To
Expect

What To Expect

Physical Activity

Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. This journey is rated 2, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks on this trip are day walks with some vehicle support. Much of the walking on this tour will be on flat terrain, well-worn nature trails, and town streets. There is a half-day of easy kayaking and no experience is necessary.

Meeting Point

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA

Departure Point

Seattle, Washington

Traveling to and from

Most Convenient Airport:
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington (SEA)

Meeting Time and Place:
Your guides will meet you on the first day of your trip upon the arrival of the San Juan Clipper at 12:00 pm, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. Please be dressed for walking.

Departure Time and Place:
We will provide transportation for the approximate 2-hour journey from Anacortes to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on the final day of the trip.

Weather

The San Juan Islands enjoy an average of 247 days with sunshine and about half the rainfall of Seattle, thanks to the "rainshadow" effect of the Olympic Mountains to the south.

San Juan Islands

July

High: 71
Low: 49

August

High: 72
Low: 48

September

High: 67
Low: 46

Cuisine

Fine dining in the San Juan Islands means tasty food — often locally produced — served in a laid-back atmosphere. Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice. Specific dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact us with any questions.

Guides

Featured Guides

About Our Guides

With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.

From $3,895 / person* *airfare not included
6 Days
Reserve This Tour
  • Departure Dates: Jul 11-16, 2021
    Aug 8-13, 2021
Activity Level 2 Easy to Moderate

Walking and hiking, 1-4 hours per day; whale watch on Day 2 and kayaking on Day 3 (no experience necessary)

Read about our Activity Levels
  • Group Size: 4-16 Guests

Make it Your Own!

This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.

Prefer a Custom Tour?

Questions?

Our dedicated team of travel experts are here to help.

1-800-941-8010

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Top 5 World's Best Tour Operators
Multi-year Recipient

National Geographic Traveler

50 Tours Of A Lifetime
Multi-year Recipient

National Geographic Adventure Magazine

Best Adventure Travel Company Winner

ATTA member since 2006

 

Reserve with Peace of Mind

Reserve your 2021 adventure with the peace of mind of free cancellations through December 31, 2020 (conditions apply).

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