The San Juan Islands will always hold a special place in my heart. I spent my 21st birthday on a boat, touring the islands, taking in the breathtaking nature, eating delicious, fresh food and spending time with the wonderful people I met along the way.
I was completely enchanted by the natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere.
If you are planning a trip to the San Juan Islands, I highly recommend staying at a boutique hotel for a unique and memorable experience that enhances your connection to the natural surroundings.
Boutique Hotels in the San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are a stunning archipelago consisting of over 170 islands. Located in the Pacific Northwest, they are known for their picturesque landscapes, nature activities, and rich history.
Only 4 of the islands are inhabited, San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island. Each island has its own distinct character and offerings.
San Juan Island is the largest and most developed, with the main town being Friday Harbor, where there are many things to do and keep you busy.
Orcas Island is known for its nature activities and is home to Moran State Park.
Lopez Island is known for its peaceful, rural atmosphere and abundance of farms and gardens.
Shaw Island is the smallest of the four islands and is home to a small community of permanent residents.
If you are planning a visit, I recommend staying in the town of Friday Harbor for its charming atmosphere and convenient location as a base for exploring the surrounding islands.
Top PickIsland Inn at 123 West
Address: 123 West Street, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA
The staff are friendly and always available via text or a quick call. The rooms are spacious, clean and calm, with comfortable beds and the option of private outdoor patios with beautiful views. The little touches, like the granola in the room with milk and orange juice, and the fresh and delicious fruit plate, make all the difference.
- Comfortable rooms with large beds and tea and coffee facilities.
- Refillable bathroom products by Malin and Goetz.
- Great location within steps of the harbor.
- Warm and welcoming service.
- Certified sustainable hotel with Silver LEED certification.
- Food waste is minimised.
- The hotel avoids single-use plastic.
- Coffee at the hotel is locally roasted by San Juan Roasters at Friday Harbor.
- Artists can exhibit their work in the hotel.
- Hotel can arrange tours led by local guides.
Pros: The most conveniently located of San Juan Island hotels, thanks to its location in downtown Friday Harbor, opposite the ferry terminal.
Cons: Access to some rooms involves taking the stairs.Check Availability
Location of Island Inn at 123 West
While I believe this is the best hotel in the San Juan Islands, you may prefer my next recommendation if you are looking for something on the other San Juan Islands.
Orca Island Hotel
Orcas Island is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, as it is home to Moran State Park, which offers hiking trails, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.
The island has several charming small towns, local farms and artisanal food producers, and stunning views of the surrounding islands and waterways.
The Landmark Orcas Island
Address: 67 Main Street, Eastsound, Orcas Island, WA
The Landmark on Orcas Island is the perfect spot. Surrounded by natural beauty, with waves crashing and seabirds chirping, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from your every day worries.
Whether you want to fill your days with activities or just kick back with a good book, the choice is yours. Stay in one of only fifteen unique condominiums, each situated around a tree-canopied courtyard.
Lopez Island Hotel
Lopez Island is known for its peaceful, rural atmosphere and abundance of farms and gardens. It is a popular destination for those seeking a relaxed and slower-paced vacation, with biking, hiking, and beachcombing opportunities. The island also has a thriving arts community and several local galleries and studios to explore.
The Edenwild Boutique Inn
Address: 132 Lopez Road, Lopez Island, WA, USA
The Edenwild is a boutique hotel on Lopez Island that has spacious rooms and water views. Each room comes with luxury amenities like soaking tubs and fireplaces. Check-in and check-out are contactless; just grab your key from the front desk. There are no TVs, so you’ll have more time for nature experiences.
Breakfast can be prepared to take with you if you plan a hike or explore early in the morning. Everything you need is nearby; beaches, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, a farmers market, and a performance theatre. You can rent a bike or kayak or take a whale tour with a local tour company.
Whidbey Island is a beautiful and diverse island located about 30 miles southeast of the San Juan Islands. It’s known for its natural beauty, with fir forests, beaches, and scenic vistas. The island also has a rich history and culture, with charming small towns, local farms and artisanal food producers, and a thriving arts community.
Whidbey is also home to several state parks, including Deception Pass State Park, which is a popular spot for camping, picnicking, and exploring the rugged coastline. Whidbey Island can be reached by ferry from Anacortes, which is about a 1.5-hour drive from Seattle.
Address: 2072 West Captain Whidbey Inn Road, Coupeville, WA
This inn is located in the old-growth forest on the shore of Whidbey Island. It’s an incredibly beautiful location and absolutely serene. Captain Whidbey has been a hub for nature connections and relaxation since 1907.
It’s a gateway to the surrounding wilderness, and while the inn is located just outside of the San Juan Islands on Whidbey Island, it shares the same incredible peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty.
Alternatively, you could stay in Seattle and take a day trip to the islands. I think staying on the islands for a couple of days is preferable as this helps local tourism businesses and it’s much more enjoyable. But I understand this option isn’t available for everyone.
If you are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to check out my guide to the best places to visit for insider tips on where to go and what to do.
The State of Washington tourist office has a helpful website for those planning a visit to the city, including the San Juan Islands. It provides information on things to do, where to stay, and how to get around, making it a valuable resource for tourists seeking to explore the beauty and charm of the islands.
Responsible Travel Tips
Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability.
Here are some ideas for how people can travel responsibly and protect the nature and wilderness of the San Juan Islands while visiting:
- Choose eco-friendly accommodations that prioritize preserving the natural surroundings, such as lodges that use sustainable building materials and renewable energy.
- Participate in guided nature tours or activities that prioritize conservation and preservation efforts.
- Support local conservation organizations or get involved in their efforts, such as beach clean-ups or habitat restoration projects.
- Use sustainable transportation options, such as public transport, bikes or electric cars, to reduce air pollution and noise pollution in around the islands.
- Respectfully enjoy the wilderness by following Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting wildlife.
- Reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers and turning off the tap when not in use.
- Support local, sustainable agriculture and seafood practices by choosing locally-grown and caught options.
- Minimise food waste by only purchasing or ordering what you can eat. Take leftovers with you to eat the next day for breakfast or have a picnic.
Please share your sustainability tips in the comments.
If you have questions or want to leave a hotel review, please do so in the comments.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels in the San Juan Islands, Washington. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.
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