San Juan Islands Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best time of year to visit the San Juan Islands?

A: We may be a little biased but the Islands are wonderful year round! Each season provides a unique opportunity to experience all the sides of the Islands. Winter is a great time in the San Juan Islands to hike quieter trails, shop local boutiques, and snuggle up in a cozy cabin. Spring in the San Juan Islands is bursting with new life, artist studio tours, bike races, and more. During the summer, the San Juans are full of outdoor music and festivals, wildlife watching and kayaking tours, outside dining, and breathtaking sunsets. Fall in the San Juan Islands is filled with robust farmers markets, engaging farm tours, film festivals, and vibrant foliage.     

Q: How many days do you need in San Juan Islands?

A: That all depends on how many islands you want to see on your trip. Stay for two days to enjoy the full breadth of island life with morning mist rolling through the farmlands and fiery sunsets over the water. Consider visiting during the week to avoid larger weekend crowds and spend time island-hopping between activities on San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez Island. Give yourself time for planned activities as well as the grace to go with the flow of island time.  

Q: Which is better: Orcas Island or San Juan Island?

A: You can’t possibly ask us to compare! Ideally you would make time to visit both, but if you must choose, consider your interests. Orcas Island is known for Moran State Park and Mount Constitution - the highest point in the San Juan Islands with stunning aerial views. With ample camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation, Orcas Island is the perfect island for an adventure-packed trip. Enjoy local fare and water-views in Eastsound, at Rosario Resort, or the Kingfish at Westsound. San Juan Island is a history lover’s paradise with the San Juan Island National Historical Park, historic Roche Harbor’s company town, and of course, Friday Harbor. Tour the island by scoot coupe, trolley, transit, or car and enjoy stunning views, hikes, sculpture gardens, and more. With a variety of restaurants, outdoor recreation outfitters, and local shops, San Juan Island is a wonderful taste of island living.   

Q: Do you need a passport to go to the San Juan Islands?

A: No passport is required to visit the San Juan Islands. They are located in the northwest corner of Washington State. If you are visiting from Canada or outside the U.S., you will need a passport.

Q: What is Orcas Island known for?

A: Step onto horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, drop your suitcase or backpack, and drink in the green paradise the locals call “the gem of the San Juans.” It's a magical mix of arts and culture, lush forests, pristine lakes and endless outdoor possibilities.

Q: Is there Uber on Orcas Island?

A: You won’t find Uber or Lyft in the San Juan Islands. Instead, take the transit or trolley around San Juan Island, rent a car or scoot coupe, or bring your bike. Orcas and Lopez Island have less transportation options, so bringing your car is recommended.   

Q: Do you need a car on Orcas Island?

A: Orcas Island is the largest island in the San Juans and it’s recommended to bring a car to experience it all. With limited public transportation options, steep and winding roads, and lots to do, a car will help you accomplish your itinerary with ease. 

Q: How do you get to Lopez Island?

A: You can take a ferry, a charter boat, or plane to Lopez Island. 

Contact Us:
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
1-888-468-3701 | (360) 378-9551
P.O. Box 1330, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250
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