“Island Exploration” Tour

Four of us at the summit of Mt. Finlayson

Beginning this summer, Outdoor Odysseys will be offering a brand new “Island Exploration” day tour on San Juan Island, where guests will have the opportunity to sample some of the best things that the island has to offer. (This new tour marks a departure from our normal San Juan Island sea kayak tours.) We’ll spend the day exploring our favorite local spots, including Mount Finlayson, Lime Kiln Point State Park, and the Pelindaba Lavender Farm, and we’ll finish the day with wine tasting at San Juan Vinyards or cider and gin tasting at Westcott Bay Cider. Last week, some of us guides along with Outdoor Odysseys founder and owner Clark Casebolt set out to do a dry run of the “Island Exploration” tour.

We began the morning in downtown Friday Harbor and drove first to Mount Finlayson, where we hiked along the ridge trail to the “summit” (a whopping 295 feet above sea level—okay, so it’s a small mountain, but a beautiful one!) and looped back down through the forest, past cedars, alders, native plants and flowers, and some lovely greenish-brown banana slugs. From there we drove to Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west side of San Juan Island—with a short stop at American Camp along the way—where we ate lunch at a picnic table perched on a bluff overlooking Haro Strait. We even got to see a few Orca fins in the brief time we were there!

After lunch we headed to Pelindaba Lavender Farm, where some of us had never been. When we’d had our fill of lavender, we drove to Westcott Bay Cider to sample some freshly-made cider and gin. The owners, Suzy and Hawk, gave us a tour of the distillery, explaining the process by which the apples are picked, pressed, fermented, and turned into cider and gin—all right there on their property. We then got to taste some of their products, all of which were superb—most of us went home with a bottle or two of our own (or four, in some cases…).

All in all, it was a fantastic day! As a newcomer to San Juan Island, I learned a lot I hadn’t known before the trip and came away with a renewed appreciation for the history, wildlife, and present culture of this place. So if you’re headed out to the islands and are looking to explore San Juan Island by land rather than sea, this might be the perfect trip for you!