Editor’s Note: Originally published in August 2014, this article was updated in May 2017 for accuracy and relevance.

Kayaking off of Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island.

Where to Eat

Duck Soup Inn

Hidden like a fairy tale witch’s cottage in the woods, the fine-dining restaurant dishes up ramps, fiddleheads, wild fennel, and other foraged goodies from the forest just outside. Local farms provide the domesticated produce and meats for dishes like fried chicken breast and steak Diane, but the sourdough bread and anchovy spread is made in house. ducksoupsanjuans.com

 
Westcott Bay Cider

The source orchard on the island dates back to the nineteenth century, and the barn the mill shares with San Juan Distillery isn’t much newer. Cider varieties range from a traditional very dry to medium sweet, available in 750 milliliter bottles, about the size of a wine bottle. westcottbaycider.com 

Bakery San Juan

Envy the locals that get to shop the San Juan Island Co-op, but placate yourself with the pepperoni, mushroom, or artichoke pizzas sold at the bakery next door. A slice won’t make it to the ferry; consider grabbing a frozen whole pie as well. bakerysanjuan.com 

Pizza from Bakery San Juan.

What to Do

Bioluminescence Kayak

Midnight waters alight with glow-in-the-dark microorganisms, but the Discovery Sea Kayak web page has to remind folks, “We are not located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We are in Washington state, USA.” 

The culprit is a dinoflagellate called Noctiluca, nicknamed the sea sparkle and most visible in August. The four-hour expedition leaves near sunset, with paddlers in tandem kayaks heading into a dark San Juan Island bay. Midway, about two miles from shore, occasional paddle strokes elicit pinpricks of blue-green light—prompting everyone to stick their hands in the cold water. Of the hundreds of kayak destinations in the San Juans, the darkest may be the most magical. discoveryseakayak.com

San Juan Islands Sculpture Park and McMillin Mausoleum

There’s art in both the sun and shade on the island’s west side. The sculpture park presents 150-plus artworks in a well-manicured field, but just across the street and up a forest path is the McMillin Mausoleum. Wander past creepy overgrown grave sites to find a memorial that resembles a Greek temple, complete with stone table. sjisculpturepark.com

San Juan Island National Historic Park

Two historic sites, English Camp and American Camp, on opposite sides of the island commemorate the two countries that once had soldiers on the island (see this comic). Both feature historic buildings and show that both militaries must have considered it good strategy to select scenic home bases. nps.gov/sajh 

A historical painting of Camp San Juan Island, today known as the American Camp.

Rent a Scoot Coupe

Imagine a moped crossed with a two-seater bumper car—that’s a Scoot Coupe, rentable by the hour from Susie’s Mopeds in Friday Harbor. They’ll convey you anywhere on the island, albeit at 30 miles per hour tops. susiesmopeds.com 

Pick a Port

While Friday Harbor has big-town bustle, the island’s west side offers privacy. Roche Harbor Resort has historic rooms in the Hotel de Haro, and Snug Harbor has 16 waterfront cabins and two outdoor fire pits. rocheharbor.com, snugresort.com 

San Juan Island Museum of Art

The museum's new (and very first) home was formally the island’s EMS vehicle garage but underwent a $3.25 million renovation. A second-floor studio is illuminated by skylights and welcomes guest artists to teach workshops. sjima.org

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