Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Part 2 - San Juan Islands

Part 2 post of our Pacific Northwest trip - we actually started out our entire trip with Seattle, then San Juan Islands, before moving on to Portland and Hood River.  

We flew into Seattle and ended up only spending a few hours there before moving on to Anacortes, WA to be in good position for the following morning's early ferry to the San Juan Islands.  Seattle seems like a great city but we just didn't have enough time to do it justice.

The San Juan Islands were beautiful, very relaxed, and laid back.  The best way to describe it is probably saying its the British Virgin Islands of the Pacific Northwest....just much colder water, big & greener forests, and stronger tidal currents.  We focused our stay on Orcas Island but also visited San Juan Island.  We intended to also visit Lopez Island but ran out of time.  No windsurfing, SUP, or mountain biking, but we did a lot of hiking, boating (sea kayaks & motor), relaxing/reading, and eating.

We visited the world famous Pikes Fish Market in Seattle and watched the big fish show...

The Space Needle

A very nice waterfront park in Anacortes, WA

early morning Anacortes

note the brisk morning felt great coming from 95 degrees back home

The only fog on our trip was the ferry to Orcas Island

In the town of East Sound, Orcas Island.  East Sound is the main town on the island and had one of the best restaurants of our entire trip - "The Kitchen", a small order at the counter Thai place using very fresh ingredients for their unique dishes.

Deer Harbor, Orcas Island - one of the coolest harbors/marinas I've ever been to.

One of the San Juan Islands ferries

lots of sailboats - this is the BVIs of the Pacific Northwest

This island outside of Deer Harbor used to be owned by actor Gene Hackman (according to our whale watching boat captain)

local mode of transportation

hiking in Moran State Park on Orcas Island - the flowers were bigger than the kids

A nice spot for a break

The steep hike up to Mt Constitution on Orcas Island, the highest point in the San Juan Islands

The view from top of Mt Constitution - that's Mt Baker in the distance.  We could also see Bellingham, WA and Vancouver,  BC.  Note the tidal currents in the water...more on that below.

We went for a sea kayak whale (Orcas) watching adventure on San Juan Island

Turns out it was too windy and choppy and the Orcas didn't show up.  We got in a serious workout paddling into the wind.  My beautiful bride and the boys were not fans of this outing because of the wind and chop.  Should have waited for calmer conditions.

My daughter and her cousin stayed in good spirits throughout the windy and choppy ordeal.  

Back on Orcas Island

Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Beautiful hiking with scenery like this in the woods

What is it about waterfalls?

Laid Back

The view from our rental house on Orcas Island
Deer were everywhere around our house and they weren't scared of anyone

Since we didn't have a successful whale watching sea kayak outing, we did it the old fashioned way....a whale watching boat tour with the crowd.

Success!  No Orcas showed up, but we got the rare Minke Whale

Lighthouse on southeast corner of San Juan Island

Bald Eagles were everywhere

Probably the coolest animal sighting we had was this seal feasting on a large salmon he just caught.  He gave us quite a show.

A little blurry here, but gives you an idea of how strong the currents are around the San Juan Islands.  Stand up paddling or sea kayaking through this wouldn't have been possible.  This is in the channel.  There isn't much stand up paddling going on in the San Juan Islands yet (no SUP rentals on Orcas or San Juan Island that I was aware of), but I did see many calmer water spots outside the main channels where you could easily SUP.  This is a big sea kayaking destination.

More currents


mark said...

This is truly an awesome adventure- makes me want to go to there!
Excellent report, Mac.

George Markopoulos said...

yeah,great adventures for the family Mac! see you in two weeks!!!

Catapulting Aaron said...

I went there a year ago, was incredible. Orcas by far was my favorite island. That view from the top is spectacular!

I also didn't see any Orcas on that trip, but I was lucky enough to spot some on a ferry ride to Victoria, BC in the Strait.

Anonymous said...

I love the islands...awesome pictures!

I'd love to feature this post on our Northwest-based site. Email me for details!

shondra (at) dwellable (dot) com


Anonymous said...

Really nice! Haven't been to the islands yet. Only to Seattle. The wooden ketch is a beautiful 'catch'. Thanks for sharing such great photos.