Mikaela Cowles is a freelance writer at Making Language Count. A food gobbling, book devouring, travel loving girl, she helps individuals and business tell stories on the web and in print. Currently you can find her at Kenmore Air, where she details her many seaplane adventures.
Sometimes I just itch to get beyond the city, to leave the highways and the skyscrapers for places where life is slower and please and thank you are commonplace. As nice as it is to tailgate for a Sounders game or watch Felix pitch at Safeco, what I often really want is a place where a friendly nod earns you a smile. I want that small town feel, full of good food and even better scenery.
Perhaps this is why I am so smitten with the San Juan Islands. After all, these are the communities where if you don’t wave, you aren't from there. Before Kenmore Air, getting to the San Juans was a chore. The thought of ferry lines and traffic often kept me home. Discovering the trip could be made in roughly 40 minutes changed the ballgame.
These are three of my favorite San Juan Islands flyaway activities, out where the salt water twists and the Olympic Mountains line the horizon. I hope you too enjoy them:
There are few things as breathtaking as a whale breaching out of the water. The massive size alone is impossible to capture with a camera. While watching these beautiful creatures is often the highlight of any trip to the San Juan Islands, listening to them talk to one another is astounding. Most whale watching guides equip their boats with a submersible hydrophone, allowing you to hear the whales vocalize and echolocate beneath the surface.
With an average 245 days of sunshine, hiking in the San Juans will never be a drizzling bore. The vast number of public parks offer your pick of high elevation gain treks, gentle shoreline strolls and a variety of ecosystems. Recently, nearly 1,000 acres of these stunning islands was proclaimed a national monument. Among the many hikes from which you can choose, I particularly enjoy Young Hill and Mount Finlayson, both located on San Juan Island.
Fresh and Local
I’m all for catching your own, but when you want a bite of local flavor right now, a fresh fish stand is the place to head. I like Friday Harbor Seafood on the main dock in Friday Harbor. They offer a year round selection of fresh fish and shellfish. I also enjoy Roche Harbor’s North Sound Seafood stand. This seasonal favorite specializes in shrimp, crab and smoked salmon.
P.S. Don’t think you’re limited to where your plane lands. The San Juan Islands Water Taxi operates between several of the larger islands, allowing you to easily island hop.