The Best Day Trip Guide to San Juan Island

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Blog, Explore San Juan Island | 0 comments

So, you’ve been asking yourself, “Can I visit San Juan Island for a day?” and the answer is yes, you can! It depends a bit on where you live, of course, but if the place you call home is in or near Seattle, deciding to be adventurous and visit us for the day is totally possible. Imagine going from enjoying your morning coffee in your easy chair to a wildlife tour or picnic lunch at Lime Kiln within hours. 

We’ll help you make it a reality. 

Keep reading to learn how you’d get to the island, your day trip to the San Juan Islands itinerary, and recommendations for what to do and see. 

How easy is it to get to San Juan Island?

First things first, a San Juan Island day trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Since you’re planning to run at a fast clip, we suggest getting up before the sun to catch one of the earliest ferry boats available. We’re so excited about Kenmore Air’s new route from Paine Field to Friday Harbor (it’s a 25-minute plane ride with—and we’re not being hyperbolic here—otherworldly views). Still, seaplane return routes cut your day too short for our taste, so you’ll have to spend the night if you want to see us by seaplane (which we highly recommend as a bucket list item). For now, we’re taking you to San Juan Island for the day by ferry. 

aerial Kenmore air with sunset

The ferry provides beautiful views and ample time for gazing. As we mentioned, you’ll want to grab one of the earliest options for a day trip to be worth your while. Check out our in-depth guide to getting to the islands (along with approximate costs) here and read our full list of transportation options—to and on the island—here

What is a good itinerary for a day trip to San Juan Island?

If you’re coming to visit San Juan Island just for the day, you must prioritize. How we’d manage our time is bulleted below. Don’t you just love a bulleted list? Since many people come from the Seattle area, we’re writing from that lens. If you’re coming from British Columbia, use these tips with the ferries and air carriers near you. 

Also, this itinerary is for you if you’re ambitious, good at keeping on a schedule and want to fit everything in. Like the best recipes, use it as a guide rather than gospel. You don’t have to do it all—or anything for that matter. You can just as well sit on one of the benches by the ferry docks and watch the boats and seaplanes come and go. However, if you want to tick a bunch of things off your list, scroll down to see how we’d manage it. 

    • 8:30 a.m. (or earlier, depending on your morning personness): Depart Anacortes on Washington State Ferries. We’d leave our car and walk on, but you could drive, too. Up to you!
    • 9:35 a.m.(ish): Land at Friday Harbor 
    • 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Grab a coffee and stroll the shops and galleries in Friday Harbor
    • 11:30 a.m.: Walk to Susie’s Mopeds and pick your preferred fun, cute mode of transportation for the next few hours. Alternatively, you can reserve an electric vehicle from, which specializes in getting you to and from the ferry, airport, accommodations, and dinners in town or at Roche Harbor
    • Noon: Get to know your new ride on a quick spin a few blocks up to San Juan Brewing Company for lunch and a beverage of your choice     
    • San Juan Brewing on San Juan Island
    • 1 p.m.: Take yourself and your red vehicle up to Lime Kiln Point State Park for epic views and possible whale sightings!
    • 2:15 p.m.: Scoot back to Friday Harbor for your 3 p.m. three-hour wildlife tour with Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching (it’s about a twenty-minute scenic drive, and pssst, don’t forget to drop off your little red vehicle on your way)
    • 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.: See all the wildlife on your tour! OR, if kayaking is more your style, book a three-hour tour with San Juan Safaris. Depending on the time of year, their tours depart every hour 
    • kayaking with San Juan Safaris on San Juan Island
    • 6:30 p.m.: Enjoy dinner overlooking the water at Downriggers or go a few extra miles to Duck Soup right by us (if you want to reserve an Eco Taxi and wave hello as you pass—Duck Soup is about ten minutes from downtown Friday Harbor)
    • Between 8 – 10:50 p.m.: Head home on the ferry departing from Friday Harbor

Ambitious, isn’t it? But so are you. 

If you’re looking for kid-friendly ideas, check out our 72-hours on San Juan Island with kids blog here. And, if you want to make sure you hit all the Instagrammable spots, we have a guide to those, too. 

whale watching with family on San Juan Island

Here’s the thing: We always—always—recommend more than one day on the island for so many reasons: slow strolls, more opportunities to experience lingering meals, bike tours, seaplane rides, island hopping, and outdoor experiences galore. We also understand you may be limited on time and resources or are insanely adventurous. 

Should you decide to stay the night, we have many different types of accommodation for every kind of traveler. And, if you come just for the day and use any of the above as your inspiration, let us know by tagging @lakedaleresort in your posts on Instagram or Facebook.

Adventure on!  

lakedale in fall


Call now: 800-617-2267
4313 Roche Harbor Rd,
Friday Harbor, WA