The San Juan Islands lie among the inland waters of the Pacific Ocean, where Canada's Strait of Georgia meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Washington's coastal city of Bellingham lies just east of the Islands, and Canada's Vancouver Island lies roughly northwest.
Though the four largest islands are the best known - Orcas Island, Lopez Island, Shaw Island and, of course, San Juan Island - the San Juan Islands number nearly 200 altogether - not including hundreds more reefs and rocky masses that poke above water at low tide!
Roughly 50 of the San Juan Islands are inhabited, comprised of picturesque waterfront communities, nature areas of rugged beauty and hotels and attractions for visitors.
The islands are popular destinations for day trips, weekend getaways, and extended vacations for travelers from around the world. Those who choose to make San Juan County their home enjoy a waterfront lifestyle in a location beloved by people around the world.
All San Juan Islands Waterfront Homes
San Juan Islands Weather
The San Juan Islands Weather is a product of the region's geography. Because the nearby Cascade Mountains, Olympic Mountains, and Vancouver Island help prevent cold fronts and rain systems from moving over the islands, they see sunshine roughly 250 days a year and get about half the rain of Seattle. Early fall sees weeks of blue skies without a cloud in sight.
Being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on all sides also stabilizes the temperature. Summers are warm but not hot, with the mercury almost never climbing above 80 degrees! Winters are mild, rarely dropping below 30 degrees.
This gentle and predictable climate not only makes San Juan Islands an ideal home, it multiplies the area's vacation appeal, providing a year-round climate perfect for enjoying the events and culture of the Island's harbor towns.
Because of the weather, San Juan Islands camping is also a popular pastime. The Islands are home to multiple Washington state parks and a national park, and are a hotspot for kayaking, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
Wildlife in San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands may be known best for the pods of killer whales - nearly 100 killer whales in all -that live among their waters throughout the year, giving Orcas Island its name! San Juan Islands whale-watching tours are a popular attraction, and the orcas can often be seen from shore.
The area is also home to many other species of marine life. Roughly 80 of the islands are protected as part of the San Juan Wildlife Refuge and provide a safe haven to sea lions, seals, and flocks of sea birds, which can also be seen from whale-watching tours.
Transportation to and among the San Juan Islands
The four largest islands of the San Juan archipelago - Orcas Island, Lopez Island, Shaw Island and, of course, San Juan Island - can all be reached by way of the Washington State ferries.
A host of private boat and ferry companies, as well as private seaplane companies, offer transportation to the smaller of the San Juan Islands. San Juan Island yacht charters are also popular for group tours, weddings, and other special events. Sailing San Juan Islands is not only an excellent way to get around, it's one of the best ways to see this unique collection of communities, one island after another!