A Local’s Guide: Best Things to do on San Juan Island in 2021

A Local’s Guide: Best Things to do on San Juan Island in 2021

Time and time again, we sing the praises of traveling during the off-season. Sure, the weather is not always as stellar as the more popular travel times, but if there is one thing you can’t count on when you live in the Pacific Northwest, it is the weather. We have experienced better weather in April than July and better weather in October than June. As long as you dress in layers and pack a sense of adventure, you’ll find the beaches, restaurants, and shops are the same, minus the crowds. One big perk of traveling during the off-season is reservations are easier to come by, and everyone, in general, has a more laid-back attitude. Springtime on the islands is filled with flowers, sunshine, rain, and anticipation as the days become longer. Between beach hopping, cruising around the island, and stopping to take photographs, before you know it, the day is half over. But if you’re looking for other things to do, might we suggest the following…


A San Juan Island Spring Itinerary 

Morning:                                                                                                                                  First stop, Roche Harbor, for fresh donuts at the Lime Kiln Cafe. After an indulgent breakfast, head out to Cattle Point for a gorgeous bluff hike, eagle spotting, and serenity. If it’s a Saturday, make sure to swing by Friday Harbor’s Farmers Market for fresh produce, locally made cheese, and picnic essentials. If it’s a weekday, do some shopping in town, then munch on delicious fish and chips at Bait. Drive to San Juan County Park for a picnic, a rock-throwing session, and launch your kayak there for an afternoon paddle.

Afternoon:                                                                                                                                  After working up an appetite out on the water, stop by Westcott Bay Shellfish for a late afternoon snack or San Juan Island Brewery for a mid-day pick-me-up. If your legs are up for it, walk along South Beach for beach exploration, rock collecting, and a bonfire at the beach.

Evening:                                                                                                                                    Make reservations for an Italian-inspired dinner at Coho restaurant in town or meander your way back across the island for gourmet fare at Duck Soup Inn. Finish off your busy day at Lime Kiln Lighthouse for a gorgeous sunset, whale spotting, and plenty of photo ops. If you’re more interested in thoroughly planning your itinerary ahead of time, here are few places to consider:



San Juan Island Farmer’s Market: 

April-October 9:30 am-1 pm every Saturday                                                                          November-December 1st and 3rd Saturday

Visit the San Juan Island Farmer’s Market every Saturday from April to October. Attending the local Farmer’s Market is an excellent way to get a sense of local cuisine and interact with the locals. It also allows you to sample local food you might not be able to try any other way. You might taste everything from your first barbecued oyster, which might result in a subsequent trip to Westcott Bay Oyster Farm, or sample some of the season’s first raspberries that inspire a raspberry cream pie once you arrive home. Pick up some beet and radish seeds to fill in the empty spaces in your garden, or purchase one of many heirloom tomato plants or blueberry plants for sale. Between all the color and variety available at the market, it’s easy to get very excited for the bounty we call late spring/early summer.

Insider tip: Go early (before 11 am) for the best selection. Bring one basket and one bag to carry around easily and separate your perishable and non-perishable purchases.


Kayaking (May through September for best orca viewing):  

Experience Washington’s sea life from the best possible place – the water. Rent your own or join a kayaking outfitter for a few hours. If you’re craving a real adventure, plan a long weekend of paddling. Kayak along the rocky shorelines and coves, get up close, and personal with local sea life such as sea lions, seals, porpoises, eagles, etc. Kayaking is a fantastic sport that you can learn quickly with a short lesson and safety briefing. The outfitters will provide you with gear, so all you need to do is bring your adventurous spirit, a hat, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Whether it is your first time or tenth time kayaking, there is nothing more thrilling than paddling alongside a group of sea lions, quickly getting out of the way of a Washington state ferry, or watching a whale or sea lion swim right under your boat.

Insider tip: Dress in layers and always bring a waterproof jacket. The mornings can start cool, and before you know it, the sun will warm you up, or the rain will cool you right down.


Whale watching:

Whenever you visit the San Juan Islands, it’s wonderful to get out on the water as much as possible. There are many outfitters on the island, and San Juan Safaris is one of our favorites. San Juan Safaris doesn’t just provide whale watching excursions but an opportunity to learn from the experts. Brian and his team offer a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sea life. The entire San Juan Safari team is eager to talk about everything they know, from whale behavior to swim patterns. Their guides and naturalists are professional and possess an enthusiasm for their jobs that is unmatched. On the off chance you don’t spot whales on your trip, don’t worry because you’ll still be able to witness an abundance of wildlife in its natural environment. Aside from whales, you might see bald eagles, porpoises, and seals, to name a few. The San Juans are such a rich environment for wildlife in addition to being an absolutely beautiful place. There is nothing quite like being out on a boat with the sunshine warming your body, the wind whipping your hair, and the thrill of spotting animals you’ve never seen before. Each trip is unique and truly a feast for the senses.

Insider tip: Animals are often most active in the morning when fewer boats have been out. Be sure to bring a good pair of binoculars if you have them.


Mopeds and scooters:

Did you know you can get around the island without a car? Susie’s Mopeds offers rentals of all kinds, from mopeds to scoot coupes and electric bicycles. One of our favorites is the scoot coupe, which comfortably fits two people and is a fun way to spend the day together while seeing the island. There are endless routes and roads you can take around the island, but one we recommend is to head out to Cattle Point for a bluff walk, stop at the lavender fields if they’re in bloom, look for whales at Lime Kiln Lighthouse, drop into Westcott Bay Shellfish and motor on to Roche Harbor for dinner. These are just a few highlights, but it’s also fun to take random roads and meander your way around the island. We regularly add and subtract items to our list with fun outings to farm stands or an excursion to see the Sponge Bob Squarepants Pineapple. Susie’s Mopeds offers a fast, friendly, reliable, and fun way to see the island.

Insider tip: Book well in advance because on busy weekends and during the summer, Susie’s is known to sell out quickly!

June 2021:                                           


Three Lakes Triathlon and San Juan Island Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k at Lakedale Resort: June 19th-20th, 2021

The perfect choice for your first 10k or your 10th marathon, this race weekend promises fun and adventures for athletes of all ages and abilities. Nestled in the heart of San Juan Island, Lakedale’s family-friendly atmosphere is the ideal spot to start and finish a race and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all.

July 2021: 

                                                                                                                                                               Fourth of July Fireworks: July 4th, 2021

There will be fireworks displays at both Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor on the 4th of July. The fireworks will start shortly after 10 pm on Independence Day. To safely watch the extravaganza, spread out on the docks, the shoreline, or view them from your car.

Insider tip: If you want to avoid the crowds when the fireworks start, head to 4th of July Beach at the south end of the island and watch not only Friday Harbor’s but Lopez Island’s displays while relaxing on the beach.

August 2021: 

                                                                                                                                                         Lakedale’s 4th annual Music Festival: August 27th, 2021

Lakedale’s Music Festival features renowned jazz virtuoso Brian Nova and his Trio. The Music Festival is an idyllic way to savor the last bit of summer and welcome fall. Enjoy a leisurely day listening to music and stay in a yurt (check that one off your bucket list!)  The Music Festival benefits the San Juan Islands School Music programs and Terry’s Kids, a wonderful organization that brings children together through music. Terry’s Kids provides free music programming to schools and care facilities worldwide, with performances, concerts, clinics, and lessons. The Music Festival is open to music lovers of all ages and registered guests at Lakedale. Admission price is included in the nightly rate, and a limited number of tickets will be available at the gate for $25 per day. Gates open at 10 am.

Open all year:

 Lime Kiln Point State Park:

Often referred to as Whale Watch Park, Lime Kiln State Park is a 36-acre day-use park with a lighthouse, walking trails, picnic areas, and restroom. The park is a favorite location to see wildlife and is considered one of the best places in the world to view whales from land. For gorgeous sunsets, whale spotting, and unique photographs, Lime Kiln Lighthouse is the best place to be at the close of a day.


South Beach and American Camp:

South Beach is located at American Camp in the San Juan National Historical Park. It is the longest public beach in the islands, with stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and two miles of rocks, sand, and driftwood just waiting to be explored. Go beachcombing and soak in the island life while building a driftwood sculpture.


Cattle Point:

One of the most beautiful places on San Juan Island is Cattle Point. Located at the south end of the Island, it consists of low rolling hills, cliffs covered in prairie grassland, gravel beaches, rock outcroppings to explore, and several protected sandy coves. Cattle Point is a short drive from Friday Harbor, and yet it feels as though you are miles away from everything. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Canada. This quiet park is a prime example of how easily accessible some of the most breathtaking places on San Juan Island are. Far enough away from town, with no restaurants or tourist attractions other than spectacular beauty, you’ll often have the place to yourself.

Roche Harbor:


Springtime is one of our favorite times at Roche Harbor. The weather usually cooperates, flowers boxes and hanging baskets are bursting with color, and it is generally a much quieter time than the hustle and bustle of the summer. Check out all the boats and yachts while walking the docks and take time to read their clever names; it’s a highlight of every trip. Plan to spend at least an afternoon or evening at Roche during your stay. The appeal is understandable with the laid back, leisurely pace (think no ferry traffic or hurried Friday Harbor tours.) Take a kayak trip from Roche Harbor docks, then eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Madrona Bar and Grill.

Insider tip: If donuts are your thing, no visit to San Juan Island is complete without a stop at the Lime Kiln Cafe in Roche Harbor for some of the freshest donuts you’ll find on the island. If heaping salads are more your speed, check out Madrona Bar and Grill.

San Juan County Park:

Another great outing is San Juan County Park on the west of the island. There’s a small beach, a short hiking trail, campsites, and plenty of beautiful views to enjoy. If you have kids, this is an ideal spot to let them explore and run off some energy. You can easily spend an afternoon examining bugs, eating a picnic lunch, and enjoying the warm sunshine on your face.

Insider tip: If you own a kayak, canoe, or small raft, this is the perfect place to launch it.

Do you ever want to visit a place where you can unplug? Where you can enjoy the great outdoors during the day and come back to modern conveniences at night? A vacation where you feel like a kid again, either with or without your children? A retreat to reconnect with your special person?  A getaway where you can enjoy quality time as a family or enjoy the serenity of nature alone? If you answered yes to any of these things, then Lakedale is the place for you. We hope to see you the next time you visit the San Juans!

Why I Want to Go on a Girl’s Getaway (and I’m a Guy!)

Why I Want to Go on a Girl’s Getaway (and I’m a Guy!)

We’ve heard it all before: “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” Clichés like that are hyper-generalized and meant to be more fun than accurate, but there are usually little nuggets of truth found in them.  So, while there are far more things that men and women share in common, there are still a few things, some obvious and some not-so-obvious, that differentiate us.  The first couple of months of every year is when the creative, day-dreaming side of my brain decides to wake itself up. Because we’re in the getaway business here at Lakedale, I thought it would be a fun exercise to see if there are any differences between how men and women approach the idea of getting away.  Honestly, what I came up with blew my mind, and now I have a very different way of processing how a break from my daily grind could feel.

In case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway, I’m a guy.  Like a lot of guys, I’ve been doing the “boys getaway” thing for decades.  One weekend might be camping, hiking, and fishing in the mountains, and another weekend might be camping and dirt bikes in the desert.  Do all boy’s getaways involve some kind of camping, or is it just mine?  Anyway, whatever the planned activities are, the boy’s rules are simple: get outta town with male friends and/or family members. There’s usually a campfire or grill busy cooking up burgers, dogs, and steaks…you know, manly stuff.  Seems pretty standard, right?

two men camping

Well, here’s where I start to make my point.  Whatever activity the weekend is supposed to revolve around, it seems like nearly everyone on the trip feels obligated to go out and buy something new to break in and show off. “We’re going fishing”…Uncle Bob goes out to buy a new rod or tackle box. “We’re going to the desert,”…our neighbor, Scott, goes out to buy a new dirt bike. “We’re going up to play in the snow”…all of my gear works, but I’d better get a new pair of skis anyway.  Before you know it, we all end up running around like a bunch of peacocks with our feathers out, engaged in a weird, new gadget arms race. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to buy new stuff, but in a way, we’re turning the volume up and not unwinding as much.  I mean, we might not be fully aware that we’re doing this, but there we are, with our feathers out.

black men out on a fishing trip

So, this started me thinking: while we’re not technically at work, we’re not decompressing, and we’re behaving like we always behave.  Essentially, it’s just guys doing guy stuff with a change of scenery.  Perhaps that’s my experience, but if it isn’t just me, show me where the actual “getaway” is in that?

So, what about the girls?  Well, due to my condition, as mentioned earlier, I’ve never been on a “girl’s getaway” before, so I decided to ask a few of the women in my life to describe their ideal, dude-free vacation to me.  As you would no doubt expect, I got seven different answers from seven different women, but there was at least one theme that they all had in common.  While the guys are busy fanning their feathers on their getaways, the girls drop their feathers and their built-up walls.  I want you to do a little breathing exercise with me, just to drive this point home.  Ready?  Take a deep breath in and hold it. That’s a guy’s getaway.  Now, exhale slowly. That’s a girl’s getaway.  Do you feel the difference?

mom and daughter on a getaway

The sentiment I picked up from the women I spoke with was, utterly independent of the activity or setting, they want to relax and completely unwind.  Life and all of its responsibilities can be a real grind sometimes, you know?  Even positive events in life can be overwhelming, especially if they force you to make changes to your already meticulously planned-out schedule, right?  So, whether it’s roughing it in the woods, relaxing in a hot tub, watching “bad reality TV shows,” reading a book, or just sitting around talking with a glass of wine, the women I spoke with want to let their guard down and thoroughly enjoy the moment and their friends.  Aha!  This idea is starting to flesh itself out!

women drinking wine on a getaway

Ok, so I’ll be the first to admit that this exercise was hardly textbook-worthy, and my sample size was tiny, but I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to be able to spot the contrast, at least in my experience.  My conclusion is pretty simple: when it comes to getaways, the girls have it nailed, and we guys are rank amateurs.  Look, I love what I do for a living, and I consider myself very lucky in that regard.  But even I need to put it all down from time to time, recharge the batteries, and come back fresh.  So, for my next break, if my choice is between the guy’s and girl’s models that I just described, I want to go on a girl’s getaway!!

It might sound silly, but I just learned something, and I feel like I want to talk this up a bit with people I know.  Now, if only I could think of the perfect place to recommend for a truly relaxing three or four days where people can get away from everything and recharge the way they want, with the people they adore.  I guess I’ll just do what I always do when I don’t know something: I’ll ask Mary Ann! She just might recommend Lakedale.

women on a girl's getaway having a picnic


Life on the Lakes: A Summer Unlike any Other

Life on the Lakes: A Summer Unlike any Other

Welcome back to another chapter of our continuing series: “Life on the Lakes,” where we give you glimpses into our daily life here at Lakedale Resort. First, we hope that you and your families are all safe and well and that you were able to enjoy the summer! We doubt it needs to be said, but 2020 has been a very challenging year for pretty much everyone, everywhere. We thought it would be fun to give our friends and fans an update on how we’re doing.

Ready. Set. NO!

It’s no secret that San Juan Island is a happening place to be in the summer months.  While we stay busy year-round with our Lodge Rooms, Log Cabins, and Yurts, things really ramp up when we open the Campground, Canvas Cabins, and Cottages from May through September.  Every year, after the summer is over and we’ve readied Lakedale for fall and winter, we usually take a deep breath and focus on planning and preparation for the following season. By the time we get to February and March, we’re almost like thoroughbreds behind the starting gates of a Triple Crown race: a little stir crazy, a little nervous, but ready to go and do what we do best.

road and grassy meadow at Neva cottages

At the end of March this year, we were ready to race, but the gates didn’t open! State and county regulations closed all hotels on the islands, so you can imagine us at the starting gate, chomping at the bit with nowhere to go and no guests to please! Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend, which is always sold out and is the big kickoff to every summer. It was a pretty surreal feeling to be one of only two people on an 82-acre property on a Saturday that is traditionally one of our busiest days of the year.  Instead of delivering bundles of firewood to campsites at 6:00 pm, the two of us hit golf balls across the lake to The Point via some pretty nice golf swings.  Ok, fine…the actual quality of those swings is debatable.

But not being open for guests didn’t make the grass stop growing or dust bunnies from breeding, so we kept plugging away.  Unfortunately, we had no idea when we might be allowed to reopen, nor did we know under what circumstances that might be.  We decided to work as if we would be allowed to reopen with little advanced notice.

The Endless Summer

After three months of being closed to the public and multiple postponements of reopening dates, we finally got the good news:  Lakedale could reopen for business on June 21st!  We reopened the resort at just under 50% capacity, heeding state, and local health department regulations, which meant pulling something out of circulation from every accommodation type we have on the property.  Because of that, many of Lakedale’s Campsites, Canvas Cabins, and Cottages, Log Cabins, Lodge Rooms, and Yurts were unavailable to rent for the entire summer.

All of our annually scheduled events like the Triathlon/Marathon, Gourmet Glamping Series, and Jazz Festival were canceled. We were also unable to host any of the weddings or retreats we had on the calendar.  This was a huge bummer for us and many of our guests, but we certainly understood, given the circumstances.

five boys at the Lake House

Thanks for the cute photo, @modernfarmhousefamily!

Lakedale enjoys a very loyal following of repeat guests, which is fantastic for us from a business standpoint. And being able to see familiar faces year in and year out is wonderful for us as individual human beings.  It’s good for the soul to welcome back folks who love spending time with us in our home!  Most of our frequent guests make their return reservations months in advance, so, unfortunately, we had to cancel over seven hundred reservations between April and August just so that Lakedale would be allowed to open at all.  This was heartbreaking and easily the most challenging part of the entire process for us.

When we had all of our ducks in a row and knew we could not only reopen but reopen safely, we admit that we had no idea what to expect. How would our guests feel about being here, about traveling, and about adhering to health ordinances?  We were prepared for a mix of reactions and feelings, but we didn’t expect what we ended up with: an overwhelmingly and palpably positive experience!

Great shot and thanks! @seattleinsiders

Lakedale is the place to go for people who want to disconnect and get away from their day-to-day life and routines.  We appreciate this, of course, but we completely underestimated how much the vast majority of our guests wanted, and needed, the experience we offer here every day.  It turns out that Lakedale’s open spaces and naturally distanced accommodations gave our guests the confidence they needed to truly relax and enjoy time with friends or family that they’d lacked for months. We know happy people when we see them…even if we could only see the top half of their faces!

boy rowing boat at Lakedale

Thanks for the fun photo, @amandaisaf !

We’re used to being sold out from June to the last week of August, with Labor Day weekend effectively ending the summer, then watching the activity trail off substantially through September.  Not this year!  Lakedale was still busy through the first three weeks of October.  No crowds, no congestion, and no worries. The summer that almost didn’t start almost wouldn’t end. And wrapped up in a year that we might want to forget, we had a summer that we’ll always remember!

We’re off and Running!

Now, as we’re solidly into fall and moving towards winter, we finally have time to reflect and plan the next steps for Lakedale.  Grappling with so many unknowns is daunting for sure, but we always do our best to stay positive and learn as we go.  We learned a lot about a lot of things this year.  We won’t bore you with all the details, but we will tell you that we’re excited about the future!  Of course, our year-round accommodations are open, and we’re running some fantastic promotions, especially for multiple night stays.  So, if we missed you this summer, visit us this off-season, or make a reservation for next year when you’re comfortable with traveling again.  We’ll be here for you when you’re ready. In the meantime, take care of those around you, and wear your mask!  See you soon!

sunset at Lakedale with boats on grass

Gorgeous sunset served up by @sarahdymond1 – thanks!


Taste the San Juans…at Home!

Taste the San Juans…at Home!

Now that we’re heading into the season of long-shadowed days, chilly cheeks, and splashes of red streaking through maple trees, you may think summer is over and autumn has arrived.  But never fear, you can recreate summer and still savor the San Juans with an online trip to our favorite artisan producers. On your mark, get set, shop!

San Juan Island Sea Salt is the baby of Brady Ryan, an islander who started his business in 2012 and now produces around 5000 lbs. of salt a year in 7 evaporation houses. From one or two products, their line has evolved into 30 unique offerings, in addition to honey, which always sells out quickly. We swoon over the Madrona Smoked Salt and the Popcorn Blend, but the salt masters still surprise us with new flavors…Dill Pickle or Scorpion Salt, anyone? And at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than a luscious Salted Honey Caramel!

jar of sea salt on rocks on San Juan Island

Photo thanks to San Juan Island Sea Salt


No visit to the San Juans is complete without a stop at Pelindaba Lavender, whether in the summertime at their organically certified farm or the rest of the year at their storefront in Friday Harbor. Founded in 1998 to preserve open space, Pelindaba is now a “premier grower of lavender plants, a distiller of essential oils, and a handcrafter of lavender-based products.” They have also expanded beyond the island to 8 other locations around the country. With products for the kitchen, personal care, your home, and yes, even your dog, Pelindaba wins our best-smelling online shopping award.

lavender fields on San Juan Island


San Juan Vineyards produces award-winning estate grown wines with grapes grown on San Juan Island, the coolest-climate growing region of Washington State, the Puget Sound AVA. The vineyard was recently purchased by the Corliss family, who own wineries and vineyards in Eastern Washington, so their already good wines are bound to get better. Take a break from Chardonnay and try their Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine wines; both pair exceptionally well with seafood from the island.

San Juan Vineyard on San Juan Island

Photo thanks to San Juan Vineyards


Inspired by French Champagne, dry Rhones, and Bordeaux Reds, the young owners of Madrone Cellars, Shaun and Amy Salamida, are bringing a taste of Europe to the wine scene of the San Juan Islands. Favoring the natural style, Shaun’s wines are made with minimal intervention and are unfiltered. Their goal is ultimately to have a bio-dynamic vineyard on San Juan Island, but for now they’re sourcing grapes from Eastern Washington. Madrone Cider was born in 2017 and uses the same process as French Champagne to produce a delightfully dry and refreshing “hard cider” with fruit from local farms.

winemaker holding bottles of wine and cider

Photo thanks to Madrone Cellars


A newcomer to island food artisans, Tea Salish Sea is owned by the Compton family who brought tea-growing to San Juan Island in 2017. They are the first island farm to produce tea commercially and were instrumental in the creation of the San Juan Tea appellation. Tours of the plantation will start sometime in 2020, but in the meantime, in addition to ordering online, you can pay a visit to their new Tea Salish Sea Picoshop in Friday Harbor on select Saturdays. Make a cup of Lavender Earl Grey or Island Basil Chai and transport yourself right back to the island!

cup of tea in fall from Tea Salish Sea

Photo thanks to Tea Salish Sea


High Seas Tuna, based in Anacortes (jumping-off point for the ferries to the islands), has been in the family fishing business since the early 1960s. They “troll catch” young sashimi-grade albacore tuna, which are blast-frozen at sea. After hand-filleting and hand packing the fish, the can is cooked only once, unlike commercial processors. No water or oil is added, and the outcome is simply delicious. In addition to being dolphin-safe, their tuna has five times the Omega-3 oil of other brands and less than half the sodium. Add this staple to your pantry this winter, and you won’t be disappointed!

Tuna boat Maverick on the high seas

Photo thanks to High Seas Tuna


Girl Meets Dirt is the tale of an island girl who, upon returning home after a career in Manhattan, makes good by producing heritage preserves sourced from historic orchards on Orcas Island. These award-winning jams, shrubs, and bitters rely on an old-school style that pairs single varietal fruit with organic cane sugar and organic lemon, cooked down in seasoned copper pans. From Cherry Fig Leaf jam to Pink Bartlett Cutting Preserves to Island Plum Shrub, the results are pure magic.

Girl Meets Dirt in orchard picking fruit

Photo thanks to Girl Meets Dirt


Last, and certainly not least, of our island purveyors is Island Thyme, based on Orcas Island since 1996. Their farm and gardens provide the basis for an outstanding line of botanically-based skin and body care products, all blended in their apothecary studio. Island Thyme’s soaps (Gardener’s Scrub and Spruce and Cedar are Lakedale favorites), creams, balms, and herbal oils have creative and healthy fragrance twists. They now produce hand sanitizers, and their lip balms regularly sell out in our Lakedale stores.

Calendula Comfrey Lotion from Island Thyme in San Juan Islands

Photo thanks to Island Thyme




The 10 Most Instagrammable Places on San Juan Island

The 10 Most Instagrammable Places on San Juan Island

Like many of you, we’ve been frustrated that our travel wings have been clipped this summer (although with more than 80 acres to roam here at Lakedale, we’re fortunate to get our daily dose of nature in). And like many of you, our Instagram accounts are suffering because of this no-travel state of affairs. I decided to take matters into my own hands and take a tour of what I think are the most Instagrammable places on San Juan Island. Our island has natural beauty in spades, from driftwood-scattered beaches to pastoral farms, lush forests, and rocky shorelines brimming with sea creatures…so keeping the list down to 10 was the hard part!

  1. Lime Kiln Point State Park, on the west side of the Island, has it all. Lime Kiln is where we go to catch a glorious sunset, with the Lighthouse serving as a picturesque backdrop. The 41-acre state park is also one of the best places in the world to watch Orca whales (also humpbacks and porpoises) from the shoreline. Best viewing is usually between May and September when the whales are in residence, so remember your long-distance lens to capture a shot of them breaching!
  1. Kayaking in the San Juan Islands provides an abundance of photo ops, and it’s the perfect socially distanced excursion. One of my favorite kayak trips is from the Friday Harbor Marina to Turn Island Marine State Park, a leisurely one-hour paddle. Turn Island is only accessible by boat, so once there, pull your kayak ashore on the pebbly beach, have a relaxing picnic, and then hike the perimeter trail around the island (counterclockwise is recommended). You’ll find madrone trees arching over the shoreline, blue herons, and gorgeous views around every twist and turn. First come, first served camping is also allowed here.

Photo courtesy of San Juan Outfitters and Brendan McGarry

  1. Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor Marinas. I don’t know about you, but “walking the docks” is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. The Friday Harbor Marina is adjacent to the ferry terminal at the foot of Spring Street. It offers panoramic vistas across the Salish Sea to Mt. Baker, ferry boats chugging in and out of town, and floatplanes landing dockside. If you want to photograph yourself alongside sleek yachts and mega powerboats, visit the Roche Harbor Marina. The historic seaside resort at the north end of the island also boasts lush gardens and quaint white turn-of-the-century buildings. (Food photo note: my favorite clam chowder favorite can be found at the Lim Kiln Café.)

  1. Beaches are plentiful on San Juan Island, from tiny rocky coves to long expanses of pebbles strewn with driftwood. South Beach, in the San Juan Island National Historical Park, is ripe for your Insta-perfect shots. It is a 2-mile stretch of gorgeous, with views to the Olympic Mountains over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and an impressive display of driftwood. Just across the road from South Beach is Fourth of July Beach, on the leeward side of things, so warmer, less windy, and perfect for picnicking. From this view, you can shoot images of the Salish Sea toward Mt. Baker – a combination that will undoubtedly add to your “likes”. Hike the trail south of the Lime Kiln Lighthouse, and you’ll discover a jewel of a beach at Deadman’s Cove. It’s small, sheltered, and is the local’s go-to location for finding sea-glass and taking wedding photos.

  1. Historical buildings always seem to catch my eye when I’m traveling. English Camp, part of the San Juan National Historical Park, is a day-use area situated on Garrison Bay. Hundreds of British Royal Marines were stationed here during the peaceful 12-year joint U.S./British occupation of San Juan Island in the 1860’s. Some of the original 27 picturesque, white structures are still standing. American Camp, at the south end of the island, is where the Americans were stationed during the occupation. It only has two structures remaining, but is still photo-worthy, with windswept views from the Strait to the bay.

  1. My favorite forest, especially on a hot summer’s day, can be found on the hike from Jakle’s Lagoon to Mt. Finlayson. It offers massive Douglas firs with peek-a-boo views to the sea and mountains, and lush undergrowth for close-up shots. The last half of the hike provides an expansive view from the Cattle Point Lighthouse across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island and the Olympic Mountains. Stunning.

  1. The town of Friday Harbor, with its quaint buildings, is always a good source for photos, but head a little farther out of town to Pelindaba Lavender Farm for some guaranteed winners. Summer is the peak of color in the lavender fields…try to schedule your trip for their annual Lavender Festival in mid-July (in a “back-to-normal” year).                                                                 
  1. The Washington State Ferries, the most common transportation to the islands, provide a terrific place to take photos of the Salish Sea, it’s picturesque islands, as well as passing sailboats, soaring birds and if you’re lucky, an occasional whale or two. If want to take some incredible aerial shots, book a flight to San Juan Island on Kenmore Air and ask the pilot if you can ride shotgun. You won’t be disappointed with the images you get from on high.

  1. Food photos. Someone once told me that 75% of the photos taken on iPhones were food images. If so, you’ll have plenty of inspiration on San Juan Island. My favorite foodie photo restaurant is the Duck Soup Inn, which never fails to deliver a beautifully plated, delicious dish and inspiring cocktail. Duck Soup is located ¼ mile from Lakedale in a quaint house shrouded in flowering vines in the summer. A welcome reward at the end of a long photo day.

  1. And last but not least, we never tire of using Lakedale as a backdrop for our photo excursions. With docks floating atop reflective lakes, verdant meadows, towering pine trees, colorful tie-dye T-shirts hanging to dry, Trumpeter swans in the winter…you’ll get great shots without ever leaving the resort. And your Instagram account will thank you!

Photo courtesy of Lisette Wolter McKinley             

How to Zoom yourself to Lakedale!

How to Zoom yourself to Lakedale!

With all of us slowly reemerging from our Coronavirus cocoons, we hope you’re thinking of making your way back to Lakedale soon. Our reopening is scheduled for June 21st and the Lakedale team has been working like crazy for months getting the property sparkling for your return. In the meantime, we’ve gathered some of our favorite images so you can picture yourself at Lakedale on your friends and family Zoom calls.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get you back to Lakedale (virtually!):

  1. Download your favorite Lakedale images (from this post) onto your computer.
  2. Download the Zoom Desktop client on your Mac or Windows computer.
  3. Open the app and log into your Zoom account.
  4. Click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner to navigate to Settings
  5. In the left menu, click Virtual Background (make sure it’s activated on the regular Zoom website).
  6. Select the + icon to upload one of the Lakedale background images. It will automatically show behind you on the Zoom screen.
  7. During a Zoom meeting click the ^ arrow next to Stop Video and click Chose Virtual Background… to change or turn off your Zoom background.

Let us know what your favorite images are, and when you do return, send us your photos so we can add them to our Zoom file to share with all our guests!