Island Hopping in the San Juans

This past week, I had a friend in town who was visiting the San Juan Islands for the first time. Wanting to show her as much of the islands as possible (and wanting to do a bit of exploring myself!) I decided to take the opportunity to visit a couple of the other islands in the San Juans. The Washington State Ferry, which runs between Anacortes and Friday Harbor, also provides service to three other islands in the San Juan archipelago: Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw. Of the four islands served by the ferry, San Juan is the most populated, Orcas the largest, Lopez the flattest – and also, apparently, the “friendliest,” judging by the waving habits of most of its inhabitants – and Shaw the smallest.

View from the top of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island

On Thursday morning, we set out for Lopez Island, bikes and backpacks in hand. The inter-island ferry, which operates several trips per day between the four main islands, is free for bicycle and walk-on passengers, so we were able to get to and from Lopez Island free of charge. After arriving on the island, we rode the four or so miles into town, and spent some time exploring the adorable shops and delicious cafes of Lopez Village. (Our favorites were Vita’s, a recently opened lunch spot, Vortex Juice Bar, where we ordered a couple of delicious smoothies – and no, we did more than just eat!) Following lunch, we rode to the southern tip of Lopez Island to a breathtakingly beautiful spot called Iceberg Point. From a point of land that juts out into the ocean, we were afforded an unobstructed view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the only outlet to the Pacific Ocean for all of the Salish Sea. We spent a few hours at Iceberg Point and eventually made our way back up north, arriving at the ferry landing in time to catch the evening ferry back to San Juan.

Early the next morning, we caught the ferry to Orcas Island, again with only our bikes and day packs. After landing on Orcas, we rode the eight miles to Eastsound, the main town on the island, stopping at the Crow Valley Pottery “Cabin” along the way. We spent a few hours poking around Eastsound, grabbed lunch at Rose’s Bakery, and headed out to Moran State Park, where we road to the top of Mt. Constitution and swam in Cascade Lake.

On Saturday, somewhat exhausted from our off-island adventures, we spent a relaxing day on San Juan Island, drinking coffee, poking around the Saturday farmer’s market, and spending time out on the west side at Lime Kiln State Park. All in all it was a wonderful week and reminded me again and again what an incredible place this really is. To the San Juans! (*raises imaginary glass*)