One of the most unique aspects of taking a vacation to the San Juan Islands is that you can only get here one of two ways – by air or by sea. With air travel, you book a reservation, show up at the appointed time, and the rest is taken care of. Ferry travel can be a different animal entirely. If you are unfamiliar with it, it can be tricky, especially this time of year on, when the summer high season is upon us and there are about to be more and more visitors making their way to the archipelago.
I’m here to give you some insider tips that we have gathered for you through research and the experience of living on the island. We want you to travel with confidence so your journey here is less stressful and more enjoyable! After all, ferry travel offers the benefit of being able to sit back and enjoy your surroundings. Panoramic views of our stunning scenery are all around you – it’s time to take a deep breath and relax, because you’re on island time now.
The ferry to the islands leaves from a city called Anacortes, about 90 miles from Seattle, or a 1.5-2 hour car trip.
The most important tip I can offer is not to bring your car onto the ferry if you can help it. Some prefer a car if they are coming for a longer stay or want to explore a lot of places around the island that are not within walking distance, but keep in mind there is a shuttle service offered in the summer months that takes you around to all the major spots for cheap – $5 per ride or $15 for a day pass. There are also car rentals available from M&W Auto or mopeds from Susie’s Mopeds. Finally, you can borrow a bike from the inns for free! You may not be planning to leave town while you’re here, in which case a car is completely unnecessary. We are within walking distance of everything in Friday Harbor – just a couple of blocks from the town center. If you drive to Anacortes and walk onto the ferry, there is paid public parking available there so your car will be waiting when you return.
If you do choose to bring a car, we recommend arriving at least 2 hours before your ferry departs in order to ensure a spot in line. Reservations are not available for the Anacortes-San Juan Islands sailing; they are available if you want to take the international crossing to Sidney, B.C. Canada. Tickets for all ferries are available online beforehand or at the ferry dock, but buying a ticket online doesn’t mean a better chance for a spot – everything is first-come, first-serve.
One way to avoid the long wait time is to take an early morning or late night ferry. The midday boats are nearly always full in the high season.
Technology being utilized by the ferry system is also becoming very helpful. Check out these great tools on the Washington State Ferries (WSF) website. Search for “Typical Vehicle Traffic Conditions” for Anacortes-San Juans; the grid shows typical ferry loads by season. The Terminal Conditions Page shows how many spaces are left in real time. Finally, you can download an app for $2.99 to your iPhone or Android device that will keep you updated on the latest ferry schedules – no more searching in your bag for paper schedules!
All ferry fares to the San Juan Islands are round trip, meaning you pay once in Anacortes but not when you return after your trip. Once you are here, travel between the islands without a car is free.
Planning on bringing your dog to your pet-friendly suite at the inns? No problem. They are allowed inside your vehicle or restrained in a crate on the car deck. Only service animals are allowed on the upper passenger decks.
Don’t worry about catching the ferry home after your trip. Since we are so close to the ferry dock, we recommend that you park your car in line for the ferry anytime after the previous ferry has left. You may leave it there, come back to the inn for a good breakfast, and head back to your car just 20 minutes before the ferry leaves with no worries.
The ferry is a wonderful way to both get here and experience the beauty of the San Juans at the same time; you just have to know what you’re in for! We hope to welcome you off a ferry for a visit very soon!
….for now, anyway!
A complimentary laundry room for guest use is just one of the amenities we are proud to offer at the inns, and our facility needed a bit of sprucing up.
So we set to work with some tweaking on the machines, cleaning up the cabinetry, and as always, a new paint job. Fresh paint seems to tie the whole room together, and boy have we been doing a lot of that this winter.
Even our team members who don’t normally count painting and room improvement among their duties have been pitching in. Thanks to Beth and Erin especially for their hard work!
We added some little touches here and there too, my favorite being a cheery floral painting that really ties the room together.
You’ll find everything you need to get some laundry done while you’re here – and you can feel free to leave the door open and enjoy the beautiful spring sunshine and birdsong that’s becoming a daily occurrence now that April is here. We hope to see you soon!
I can still hardly believe it! Our own Molly Prima, who has brought such laughter and enthusiasm to the kitchens at the inns, has moved on to pursue other opportunities. She remains a part of our island community, thankfully, and we’re all hopeful we will cross paths with her many times in the future.
Yesterday we gathered around the table at the Garden Room Cafe for a delicious farewell lunch of sticky rice, bulgogi, soup and salad. Conversation was kept to a dull roar – pretty typical around here – but through it all there was a bittersweet feeling in the air. We wish her all the best, but we’re all sure going to miss Molly around here. We toasted to her future and to her wonderful work at the inns, and in typical Molly fashion she cracked, “I’ll see you all tomorrow on payday!”
At the inns this winter, the theme has been renovation, renovation, renovation! We love the rustic charm of our historical buildings, as we try to preserve as much of that as possible, but regular updating is necessary to keep the rooms looking their best. We’re just about finished now, but I wanted to update you on a major project that’s just wrapped up – redoing the kitchen in our Roche Harbor Cottage.
All the cabinets had to be replaced, then painted inside and out. We also updated the countertops to a much more chic, modern-looking black.
Beth was a major contributor to this project. You can normally find her sharply dressed and greeting guests
as they check in, but she pulled double duty during the Roche renovation as a painter extraordinaire, often working long into the evening hours to ensure that everything got done in a timely manner. Thanks for all your hard work, Beth!
The Roche Harbor Cottage is now finished and ready for guests – in addition to the full kitchen, it has a comfortable living room, a king bed, gorgeously appointed bathroom and private hot tub on the back deck. Give us a call today to book a few nights in this great cottage – accommodations are filling up fast as we approach the summer!
The 2014 King 5 Best Northwest Escapes contest is officially on. Anyone can visit the website and vote for their favorites in 72 fun categories, including restaurants, whale-watching, romantic destinations, skiing destination, lighthouse, and of course, bed and breakfast!
The winners are chosen entirely by the voters, and many of the participating businesses are offering great deals, slashing their rates so those who visit the website can get to know the competition.
You can also read honest reviews of each participant by regular voters just like you.
Tucker House and Harrison House need your votes! We are in 6th place currently, which is really exciting, but we need your vote to win. If you have stayed with us and enjoyed it, please take the few moments to kick in your vote. You have to sign up to enter, but it takes just a few moments, and you’ll also be entered in a drawing to win a vacation package worth $5,000! So if you vote in all 72 categories, you’ll get 72 entries!
San Juan Island is currently in the number one spot for best island, so we think it shouldn’t be too hard to get us at the top of our category! We’re asking you, our amazing guests and friends, to help us get there!