Washington’s San Juan Islands – A Summer’s Oasis

Family Island Cheats of July you are looking for a cool shade tree to hide from the sweltering heat and waiting patiently until the cool weather of the fall arrives. Those Fourth of July picnics are a great place to gather, socialize with friends, and eat lots of barbecue, but how many people really enjoy those ninety-eight degree days in the sun in middle of July. A great way to avoid the heat and misery of July is to plan a mid-summer’s trip to the pacific northwest, specifically Seattle and the San Juan Islands. Even in the middle of July, on any given night on the San Juan Islands, it is wise to go out on the town with a light jacket or heavy sweater on your shoulder.

As you fly over Mount Rainier on the way to Seattle, looking out from the airplane you can almost touch the snow covered Mount Rainier, as the plane descends toward Seattle. And you say to yourself, the view itself is almost worth the trip. Yes, Seattle has much to offer any traveler for more than a week, offering the world famous Pike’s Street Market, the oceanside docks and restaurants along the Puget Sound shores, and of course, the home of Starbucks coffee, and much more.

However, in mid-July, why not consider the San Juan Islands. The San Juan Islands consist of over 150 islands located in Puget Sound just northwest of Seattle, found nestled between Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia,Canada. The islands discussed are actually in the state of Washington, as you go further north, they become a part of British Columbia, Canada. The four major islands are The San Juan Island, Orcas Island (named after the Orcas whale), Lopez Island, and Shaw Island.The San Juan Island and Orcas Island are the most developed and actually have the most to offer any travel adventurer.

All of the four major islands mentioned above can be reached by traveling the Washington State Ferries. To board a ferry to the San Juan Islands, most people just rent a car at the Seattle airport and travel about an hours drive to the northwest of Seattle to Anacortes,Washington, a town worth spending time in- in itself, and there you will board a ferry to the San Juan Islands. The ferry will transport you and your rental car to each of the four major San Juan islands, and the ferry will transport you all the way to Sidney, Vancouver Island, Canada, if you wish. The cost for a couple with their car is only about $50 to go the entire trip to Sidney. If you are traveling without a car it is much cheaper.

The ferry ride itself is actually like a mini-cruise. You drive your rental car onto the ferry, park your car and go to the upper-deck. Once in the upper-deck seating area your will find comfortable cushioned seats and picture window views to enjoy the sights as you travel to the northwest and to the islands. The ferries also provide a nice cafeteria cafe and you can grab a nice meal and drinks. Just prop your feet up and enjoy the view as the ferry makes landing at each of the major four islands. The trip all the way to Sidney,Canada takes a couple of hours, but the views are magnificent, and the waters are calm. It is a great time to just read, relax and enjoy the tranquility of the moment.

As you approach the islands you will be amazed by the views and marvel at the quaint ocean side villages and the lovely mountain cliffs falling into the sea. Most people who travel there actually stay in one of the quaint bed and breakfast establishments.There are many bed an breakfast lodges, and all offer roomy, well decorated accommodations and an enormous breakfast to start your day. There are a couple of established hotel/resorts, such as The Orcas Hotel, on Orcas Island, or The Rosario Resort and Spa,also on Orcas Island, if you want more privacy.

Your trip will be just doing what you feel like doing each day and just enjoying these beautiful islands and exploring the seaside villages and all they have to offer. You will discover uncrowded drives along the sea, and you will find whale watching points, scenic lighthouses, and historic sights. In the small villages you will find quaint gift shops, offering local crafts and art. You will find small restaurants overlooking Puget Sound, serving fresh steamed clams cooked in white wine from the Washington vineyards. And everywhere you travel you will find friendly people, welcoming you to their community.

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