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 want 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 or 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 not listed above, you can also charter a flight to get there. 

With roughly three flights a day leaving from each location, 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. Flight prices can increase depending on how far in advance you book and whether you travel during the peak season.

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.

Catching a ferry to the San Juan Islands

Catching a ferry to the San Juan Islands is another great way to travel with a port 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. 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 travelling to Friday Harbor but takes less time if you're travelling 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, 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 travelling in, whether you're travelling with a vehicle (and what type of vehicle it is), your age and how long you'll be staying on the ferry.

Still want to learn more about the San Juan Islands? Return to San Juan Islands FAQs

Read more about the San Juan Islands