Infinite things make the San Juan Islands the best place for a romantic getaway: the wildlife, the lush vegetation, the stillness, the general pace and ease of life. Even the ferry or plane ride you take to get here will have a certain je ne sais quoi.
Consider the journey—and soft landing on land or sea—part of the experience. Let’s dig into a few of our favorite ways San Juan Island turns on the romance.
1. We have lots of roaring fires
If you’ve ever been in our Lodge, you know we’re no strangers to a roaring fire. We have them all around the property, and as far as we’re concerned, they’re a prerequisite for living an island life.
Some of our favorite places on San Juan Island that also have roaring fires? Duck Soup (not even one mile from us), Downriggers (right by the ferry landing), South Beach (you can build a bonfire there and watch the sunset and moon rise over Mount Baker), and more.
Something about a fire adds a desire to scooch closer to your companion, you know? Activate the cozy hibernation feelings in 3…2…1.
2. We’re away from it all
Have you ever enjoyed a sunset picnic next to a historic lighthouse while whales danced in the sea right in front of you? We bet you haven’t! And if you’re ever going to experience otherworldliness at that level, it will be at Lime Kiln Point State Park. Of anywhere on the island, Lime Kiln is the number one spot where people see whales from land, and it’s a popular place to visit for both tourists and locals. Imagine all the magical memories you two will have to talk about at your dinner parties years from now. We’ve had many guests mention they went to Lime Kiln every evening for its serenity alone. In that sense, whale sightings are gravy. Delicious, surprise gravy, but gravy nonetheless.
During quiet season especially (October-May), you’ll find that the island feels like you have it to yourself. We encourage you to soak up that feeling. When you’re on San Juan Island, you are away from it all, but you’re still pretty close to all the comforts of city life. Leave that presentation you need to prepare for, your kids’ sports practice, and your cat’s special diet at home for now, though.
This is your time to explore the trails, linger at each historical signpost, stay a little longer than you usually would, and reach for the hand of the person standing next to you.
3. World-class food and drinks abound
Our local restaurant owners share a staunch commitment to sustainability and sourcing their ingredients as locally as possible. We wrote about our top ten favorite places to eat on the island here and highlighted restaurants in Friday Harbor here.
A few consistent standouts: For breakfast and coffee, Salty Fox; for a long brunch with views of a working oyster farm, Westcott Bay Shellfish; for lunch and brews, San Juan Brewing Company; for a glass (or bottle) of fermented grapes, San Juan Vineyard; for a romantic dinner with a marina view, McMillen’s Dining Room; and, for a romantic dinner right up the road, Duck Soup.
The main food concern we’ll expect you’ll have is where to begin.
4. There’s nowhere better for quiet walks on the beach
South Beach, which we mentioned above, is the longest beach on the island. We like to explore the driftwood along it before seeing where the trails up and around American Camp take us. While you’re near American Camp, check out local favorites Jackson Beach (lots of nooks to steal away with your love), Eagle Cove (ideal for a lazy afternoon), and Granny’s Cove (a hidden gem with grassy trails that lead to a peaceful nook). This area offers the unique opportunity to see Mount Baker and the Salish Sea. For you history buffs, there is a ton to read and learn along the way, especially with the newly refreshed and re-opened Visitor’s Center.
Looking for a well-rounded beach plus history experience? Meander around English Camp, which also offers beach trails, albeit less coastline.
Interested in exploring a lagoon and even more history? Head to 4th of July Beach for a picnic and walk down the shoreline to Jakle’s Lagoon. This area is the site of the original San Juan Village and is ideal for lingering since it’s one of the more mellow beaches on the island and away from the hustle and bustle of more popular sandy stretches.
5. We’re a haven for wildlife
If you take a wildlife tour while you’re visiting (and we recommend you do if you’re here during the season), you may experience the majesty of orcas, humpbacks, or bald eagles, which are all deeply symbolic to many, especially in the islands.
Orca whales have countless legends tied to them. The Coast Salish people lived in harmony with orcas and learned through careful observation that these often-feared marine mammals are very much dependent on their clans for survival, much like humanity itself. To see yourself reflected in a beast so magnificent? There are few things more humbling—or more bonding.
Similarly, to witness a breaching humpback is an experience unlike any other. These massive whales love to slap the surface of the water with their pectoral fins and tails. They travel up to 5,000 miles yearly to visit us, and seeing them never gets old. Known for their melodic songs, humpback whales are often thought of as symbols of peace, love, and harmony. If that’s not a sign for you to book your trip to the islands, we don’t know what is.
And, while there is so much more wildlife to experience here (grey foxes, black-tailed deer, sea lions, and winter waterfowl aplenty), our resident bald eagles are so ubiquitous on the island we sometimes forget how rarely people who don’t live here get to see them. Not only do these special birds make their home all over the island (and mate for life), but they also often roost right here at Lakedale!
If you’re looking for a little extra lovin’, book that room and tell your hunny to pack some layers. We’ll be here with two plush robes hanging in your Lodge room closet, a chandelier in your Canvas Cottage, or a personal hot tub in your Luxury Yurt. Whatever type of accommodation you pick, we know one thing for sure: It’s ready for romance.
Two pro tips before we let you get back to the things that may be calling you away from the islands: Give us a ring before you get here to ask about our romance package. We can surprise your partner with some in-room goodies. And be sure to check our Specials page for promotions on long weekends for love. You deserve it.