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Things to do in San Juan Islands

Our most recommended things to do in San Juan Islands

Vancouver, BC: Whale Watching Tour

1. Vancouver, BC: Whale Watching Tour

Experience the awe and inspiration of seeing whales in their natural environment on this unique whale-watching excursion from Vancouver. Get the chance to spot orcas, humpback, minke, and gray whales, as well as porpoises and seals. Depart from Granville Island in downtown Vancouver on a high-speed, custom-built, luxury catamaran that takes you on a fully-guided whale watching and marine wildlife tour. As you set out from Vancouver, choose whether you want to stay inside the heated cabin or head outside and pick from 3 different viewing areas on 2 levels that are perfect for photography. Marvel at the beauty of the Strait of Georgia on this outdoor adventure. As you sail, learn about the history of the area and the local marine wildlife from your knowledgeable crew. Immerse yourself completely in this incredible experience while we take free high-resolution photos of the wildlife, yourself, and your loved ones! It is the quintessential whale-watching experience for every adventurer. Select the half-day cruise, or opt for the sunset option to watch the sun go down over the water.

Seattle: Olympic National Park Small-Group Tour

2. Seattle: Olympic National Park Small-Group Tour

The Olympic Peninsula is home to a number of Northwest ecosystems. You'll find remote beaches littered with tide-scoured cedar logs alongside the country’s oldest forests and one of the state’s most dramatic mountain ranges. It's a true feast for the senses. Start the morning with a ferry ride through the waterways of Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island. Connect with the Olympic Peninsula via the Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal Bridge, and once there, follow your guide on a naturalist experience best suited to the time of year and conditions of the day. Drive up to Hurricane Ridge (weather permitting), a mountain citadel that puts you at the edge of the Park’s exceptionally jagged peaks. Take in a superb 360-degree view from the summit that encompasses the surrounding mountains, the Strait of Juan da Fuca, and San Juan Islands.  The open meadows are ideal for wildlife viewing – be on the lookout for Olympic marmots, black-tailed deer, and even black bears. Embark on guided nature walks or snowshoes to learn more about the sub-alpine ecosystems. Explore Lake Crescent. Flanked by trails full of history and mysterious tales, its placid shores and perfect placement in the midst of the undulating Olympic foothills serve as an instant source of relaxation.  Take to the trails to experience the old-growth forests of Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock trees, venturing to the misty Marymere Falls if time allows. On days when the weather closes access to Hurricane Ridge, visit the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The Dungeness sand spit hooks out into the strait, and in the spring and fall, thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds descend on the shallow waters protected by the spit.

From Anacortes: San Juan Islands 3-Day Sailing/Camping Trip

3. From Anacortes: San Juan Islands 3-Day Sailing/Camping Trip

Join this 3-day adventure, sailing and camping in some of the most beautiful places in Washington State. Using fun and stable tandem Hobie Adventure kayaks, you will sail across the water and set up camp on an island with the gear provided. Don't worry about your meals, as they're included as well. Day 1Meet your guide and fellow travelers to discuss the predicted weather and how it will affect the current, waves, and sailing. After a briefing on the overall trip, become familiar with your trimaran kayak. Take some time to practice and sail near shore. Set sail as a group to the islands. Your guide will choose a fitting area for lunch, depending on current conditions. After some more sailing, your tour leader will choose an ideal campsite. Set up camp and go explore hiking trails or tide pools, after agreeing on a dinner time with the group. Day 2Tea and coffee are available for early risers. Breakfast will be served at a time that accommodates everyone. The rest of the day is very similar to day 1. Explore new destinations by kayak, looking out for wildlife and accessing ideal islands and reserves to explore. Lunch and dinner are prepared by your guide. Day 3This day focuses on returning to the starting point. In order to head back, it's often required to cross the Rosario Straight. With strong currents and potential for strong winds, you may be required to apply everything you have learned about sailing to successfully arrive back at the launch point.

Port Renfrew: Whale and Wildlife Watching Cruise

4. Port Renfrew: Whale and Wildlife Watching Cruise

Join your guide on a west coast wildlife tour where you can find whales around every corner. Escape the day-to-day bustle of the city to the serenity of the open ocean. See sky-high trees and awe-inspiring shorelines where nature is totally wild. The west coast of British Columbia is known worldwide for its whale watching and marine wildlife viewing opportunities. Develop a deep passion for the environment and wildlife during this 3.5-hour cruise. Don’t miss out on the chance to see humpback whales, black bears, deer, resident and transient orcas, bald eagles and other wildlife playing hide and seek in the majestic old growth forests nearby. Routes may vary depending on whale sightings and weather.

Seattle: Private Whidbey Island & Deception Pass Tour

5. Seattle: Private Whidbey Island & Deception Pass Tour

From Supplier's website: We begin with a drive to the North end of Whidbey Island where you’ll have the opportunity to walk across the Deception Pass Bridge. Many ships and vessels have been torn to shreds attempting to enter Puget Sound through this Passage. The tumultuous waterway below looked deceptively like a bay at first glance in 1792, and is why it got its name, compliments of Captain George Vancouver. We make a stop at Washington’s favorite State Park if you want to touch the water, or walk in the sand and rocks and driftwood. Lunch is in historic Coupeville and Penn Cove. If you are a history enthusiast, we’ll take you to an historic military fort built in 1902 and to a lighthouse. No island trip is complete without a ferry, which we’ll need to get off the island!

Frequently asked questions about San Juan Islands

What top attractions are a must-see in San Juan Islands?

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Juan Islands

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What people are saying about San Juan Islands

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 344 reviews

That was my first whale watching tour. And I was really excited. The guides do their job with full dedication and joy. And you don't feel in a "mass processing". We had to "search" for whales a little longer but actually found them. And you always acted with a lot of respect for the animals. Informed us a lot and also diligently looked in your "book" whether it is a whale you know. I would do it again at any time and the price-performance ratio is more than reasonable. We were on the road for a full 5 hours. And we didn't have the best weather because we had a lot of fog banks. But they knew how to avoid them.

It was cold and pouring, but the team gave us an unforgettable afternoon. The catamaran offered all amenities, so that you could warm up, dry off and have a hot tea in between. And we also saw whales several times. The photo service was great, so you could concentrate on looking

Cheryl did an outstanding job with our tour. She was very knowledgeable and professional and I would not hesitate to use her again for another event.

Experienced guides, after the trip they send you there pictures for free!

Great guide and tour group! Some hiking but not tiring.