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Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

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Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

We are planning on driving up to Seattle from Bay Area in a few weeks. I am not used to planning so late. We will have about 8 days not including travel to and back home. Would like to see sister in Seattle, fit at least one San Juan island, do an orca whale watch, go to Vancouver and Gulf Islands. Could use some directions as to what is most efficient route and transportation. Would probably like to do the further locations like Vancouver earlier in the trip and leave Seattle for the end. Worried about trying to get on ferries with a car in the summer. Can we reserve in advance? Where is best whale watching. Will we even be able to find lodging in the islands?

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Green Valley...
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1. Re: Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

San Juan Island, my favorite, plus it has several whale charters and is often closest to the "action". Also possibly see marine life from west side of island. See websites, below.

Vancouver? Do you mean the island or the city of, which is on the mainland? Coupling the Gulf Islands to Vancouver suggests you mean the island with Victoria as the main attraction, given your limited time. You could ferry to Saltspring Island, visit Ganges, from here. Day trip.

Ferry reservations: None except for Coupeville to Port Townsend and Anacortes to/from Sidney, on Vancouver Island, and the Coho Ferry from Port Angeles to/from Victoria.

Ferry access: most have frequent sailings. Best to arrive at least one hour early before your anticipated departure. For Anacortes to Friday Harbor (and Sidney), in summer, two hours.


Seattle to Anacortes to Friday Harbor/Sidney, allow 2 hours drive to Anacortes, plus two hours in the holding lanes to be assured of a place on the ferry. I'd leave Seattle and get the earliest ferry possible - then you'd be more assured of a place in line and more time on the island.

San Juan Islands - recommend at least one night, lots to see/to do. The whale charter will take up at least 3 - 4 hours. You could take inter-island ferry to Orcas Island, explore, drive up Mt. Constitution. Google images to see why.

Victoria - at least one night. wsdot.com/ferries/…

Lodging in the islands? As soon as you have locked in an itinerary, see the lodging lists from the websites, below, plus reviews under "San Juan Island Hotels", left hand column.

Possible route: Seattle to Anacortes to San Juan Island to Sidney/Victoria to Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge (a mere slice of huge Olympic National Park) to Seattle. (Unsure, hope others will know, can you depart Friday Harbor for Sidney; believe you can.)

Can be done in 8 days.

Victoria Bound

If Victoria bound, you can fly or, if by water, the Coho ferry from Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula; from Seattle, Victoria Clipper (passenger only); from Anacortes, WA State Ferries. For vehicles, suggest reservations in tourist season.

http://cohoferry.com/main/; http://www.victoriaexpress.com/


Victoria, Vancouver Island


San Juan Islands (Information on the several major islands, with key websites.)


An official and very helpful guide to the islands.


Edited: 11:25 am, July 03, 2011
Port Angeles, WA
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2. Re: Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

If you are coming in a few weeks, you will arrive right at the height of the season. Ferries and roads will be crowded, and lodging will hard to come by. Your trip is possible but very ambitious. It will mean a lot of time in cars and waiting for ferries. Could you prune it down by at least one destination? If you can tell us what you specifically would like to see and do, we can give you better advice.

Green Valley...
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3. Re: Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

PS You could drive from Seattle to Anacortes via the Mukilteo ferry to Whidbey Island, spend up to a day exploring WI, lodge in Anacortes, get an early ferry to Friday Harbor. Less rushed that way.

Arrive early for the Mukilteo ferry, but it does run frequently should you have to wait in line.

Whidbey Island (Great day or more getaway with many features of the Pacific NW; includes key websites, tours, maps.)



Suburb of San...
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4. Re: Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

Thanks for the suggestions. To be a little more focused, I think we will be starting in Vancouver once we arrive in the Northwest. Spend a couple days there. We want to either go to Victoria/Gulf Islands or San Juan Islands. Want to do kayaking and whale watching. We are so last minute and I need to come up with an intinerary so I can look for lodging. Is it too late to get lodging or book Whale Watch, Kayak.? Would it be harder to get reservations in BC islands or San Juan. My husband keeps telling me I have to do more itinerary research but I am panicked that we just need to make some quick decisions so I can book stuff. This is so not like me at all. I am normally like to plan way ahead but when you have teenagers it is hard to plan ahead as they have so much going on.

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5. Re: Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

I figure you'd have better luck finding accommodations in the Gulf Islands. Really wouldn't it be best at this point to nail down your accommodations and let the itinerary take care of itself? Isn't getting out of the Bay Area reward enough?


Edited: 10:59 am, July 08, 2011
6. Re: Last minute planning, help with San Juan Islands, Seattle

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