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San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...

miami, FL
13 posts
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San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...


I am planning to visit San Juan Islands in July 2005--San Juan 3 nites, I night in Orcas Island, I hope to take a day trip to Lopez island.

I am traveling with my husband and we would like to take advantage of the san juans reputation for being a great place for cycling. However, we are not experienced cyclists. Indeed, we just got our bikes and would like to take a vacation that includes biking.

We are trying to decide between taking an organized tour or whether to simply rent bikes on our own and explore. Is there public transportation to move from ferry stations to hotels? Or say from hotel to restaurants, etc??

OR should we rent a car to make sure we have a way to log around our luggage and get to hotel, bike shop, etc.???

Also, any info you can share on bike shops, trails, etc will be greatly appreciated.


Destination Expert
for Seattle
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18,654 posts
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1. Re: San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...

ok Lopez is the flattest island for cycling. SJ Island is beautiful but pretty spread out. Great cycle trips to resorts on other side of island, but British and American Camp. There is actually a cycle campground on SJ. The town is right there so you don't need a car. Consider a day trip to Victoria, by going to Sydney. You can do that by foot and there is a bus that will take you downtown that meets the ferry. Orcas is nice but quite hilly. You can climb Mt. Constituation and have a great view. Hope this helps. Commercial tours charge a fortune for the same route.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...

It is better to have a car on the San Juan Islands. That way you can go go whereever you want on the island and explore more on your own. When I went to Friday Harbor in January 2003, we took my car by the Anacortes ferry.

The following website has good information on bike rental.




Vancouver, Canada
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235 posts
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3. Re: San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...

I would say Orcas is the hilliest of the islands. I wouldn't attempt the bike ride up Mount. Constitution unless your in pretty good shape.

SJ is probably your best bet, few hills, all the roads have cycle paths along the side of them. You certainly don't need to take an organised tour. The place is full of cyclists in the summer.

The San Juans are very beautiful. I am sure you will have an enjoyable stay while there.

Seattle WA
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4. Re: San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...

I can only speak about Lopez Island - which is very flat (except the road from the ferry terminal, which is a killer!). The island overall is very quiet. The town is a few miles from the ferry terminal, but once you get up the hill from the ferry terminal, it should be a pleasant bike ride.

There are no dedicated bike trails or bike lanes on Lopez, but the amount of traffic is pretty minimal. This is a very friendly island - everyone waves at each other when cars or bikes pass each other!

If you do end up taking a car with you, plan to get in the ferry lines several hours ahead of when you want to actually catch the ferry. Especially on summer weekends, you could be waiting in line for longer than the ferry ride will be. If walking on (or with bikes) you'll be able to get on the next ferry every time.

Hope you have a great trip!

Kirkland, Washington
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5. Re: San Juan Islands--Biking Friendly for beginners? /Do I need...

If you're planning on biking, I would probably avoid having a car if at all possible. You can ferry from island to island quite easily on your bikes (and avoid the long ferry lines in the summer--sometimes 2-3 ferries!), and I know walk-ons ferry for free inter-island (once you've paid your fare for the first island) and I think bikes do to. That way you could explore a different island every day! Lopez is my favorite too.