How to get to the San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands make for the trip of a lifetime thanks to their natural beauty, quaint and friendly atmosphere, and abundance of fascinating wildlife. Whether you're coming to the islands for a laidback getaway or wanting to spend your time cycling through their extraordinary landscapes, travelers come from all over the United States to experience Washington's slow-paced slice of paradise. Thankfully, there are two easy and very efficient ways of getting to the San Juan Islands; flying to the islands and catching a ferry. The option that suits you best will depend on your budget and where in the United States you're traveling from.
Flying to the San Juan Islands
Flying to the San Juan Islands is one of the more popular (and cheaper) ways to travel to the coastal destination with services provided by San Juan Airlines operating out of either Anacortes or Bellingham. These services can take you to several locations within the islands including Orcas Island, Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, Lopez Island, and Blakely Island. If you want to fly to a different location within the islands that are not listed above, you can also charter a flight to get there.
With roughly three flights a day leaving from each location (two flights in the morning and one in the afternoon), you have plenty of time to explore the islands at your own pace while still having flexible departure options when it's time to go home. Flights start from USD$96 one way but this price can increase depending on how far in advance you book and whether you're traveling during the peak season. If you're traveling to Roche Harbor, Lopez Island, or Blakely Island then flights start at USD$102 and are subject to availability.
The best part about flying? It only takes 15 minutes to get to some islands so you can spend more time exploring and less time in transit. Learn more about flying to the San Juan Islands here.
Catching a ferry to the San Juan Islands
Catching a ferry to the San Juan Islands is also another great way to travel there with a port located in the coastal town of Anacortes. This option is cheaper than flying and allows you to catch a glimpse of the islands from the water before you get to land. The Washington State Ferry System (WSF) operates several routes from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands from Monday through to Friday starting at 4:30 in the morning with the last ferry leaving the mainland at 9:05 pm. There are just as many routes from the San Juan Islands back to Anacortes when you're ready to come home.
The ferry journey takes around an hour and a half if you're traveling to Friday Harbor but takes less time if you're traveling to one of the other islands (Lopez Island takes just under an hour and Orcas Island takes an hour).
Getting a passage on the ferry is subject to availability though, especially if you want to take your car, bike, or motorcycle with you, so bookings and reservations are recommended so you can board at your preferred time.
The cost of the fare depends on a number of things including what season you're traveling in, whether you're traveling with a vehicle (and what type of vehicle it is), your age, and how long you'll be staying on the ferry for with prices starting at USD$14.85 for a passenger ticket and USD$43 for a standard vehicle. Check the Washington State Department of Transportations website for further details.