The San Juan Islands, which are an archipelago located off the coast of Washington State, offers a fantastic adventure for biking and eco-enthusiasts. Given its beautiful rural Pacific Northwest landscapes, nature fans and city dwellers will truly enjoy this green travel option. And, after many years on our travel bucket list, my husband and I finally got the chance to visit this relatively unexplored area of the United States. After visiting the horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, the beaches of Lopez Island, and the lavender farm of San Juan Island, here are our tips for making the most of your San Juan Islands biking experience.
How to Get to the San Juan Islands
One of the best aspects of vacationing on the San Juan Islands – and experiencing ecotourism in the United States – is the fact that you don’t need a car. While these islands are not car-free, various public transportation options make it very easy to travel.
- Comfortable Bellair Airporter shuttles run regular schedules to and from SEA-TAC Aiport to the Anacortes – San Juan Islands ferry terminal,
- Convenient Washington State Ferries seasonal schedules allow for more time to relax, and
- Casual vacationing so you don’t need to carry very much.
Tips for San Juan Island Biking Trails
You can easily spend a week or more exploring the San Juan Islands, and once again many options are available.
- If you don’t want to bring your own bicycle, there’s plenty of bike rental companies that run their operations on the islands, including Discovery Adventure Tours and Meat Machine Bicycles,
- The tourism board offers helpful trail maps for San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island,
- Biking trails from steep to hilly to flat are available,
- For those who riders who are concerned about their stamina, consider renting an electric bike; while heavier than regular bikes, these bikes enable riders of all ages to stay together as the e-bikers can dial-up or dial-down the amount of effort required to cross the terrain
San Juan Islands Unusual & Interesting Stops
Each island has its own set of worth-the-look sites that are fantastic for either a picnic, selfie or stop-over.
- On Orcas Island, you can visit Orcas Island Pottery, which is the oldest pottery co-op in Washington State and offers a lot of one of a kind items. You can ride or hike up Mt. Constitution, which is the highest point in the San Juan Islands. And, you can swim, paddle, and fish at Cascade Lake.
- For San Juan Island, you can stroll around Friday Harbor’s shops and restaurants. Also, you can go sea kayaking in Roche Harbor and ride to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula. You can visit Pelindaba Lavender Farm to view the endless lavender fields and purchase lavender products. Finally, you can explore Lime Kiln State Park, which is the only official whale-watching park in the United States.
- Lopez Island offers more tranquil harbors around Bayshore Road as well as friendly locals of the island.
Where to Stay During Your San Juan Islands Biking Experience
If you plan to stay on one island for a week or more, you may want to consider renting a home or you may prefer hotel accommodations. First, there are two options on Orcas Island. The Outlook Inn, located across the street from a private beach and is a short walk from shops, galleries, and restaurants, harkens back to a time when vacations were less about luxury and more about relaxation. Another option is Kangaroo House B&B, which is the longest running B&B on the San Juan Islands.
San Juan Island offers more options for hotel accommodations near Friday Harbor. These include Kirk House B&B (especially good for birders), Tucker House Inn, Friday Harbor House, and Bird Rock Hotel.