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Friday Harbor

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Friday Harbor is the main city on San Juan Island, the most populous of the San Juan Islands. It is also the county seat of San Juan County.

Aerial view of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island
View over Friday Harbor

Get In[edit]

By Plane[edit]

  • Kenmore Air, +1-866-435-9524 (, fax: +1-425-485-4774), [1]. Kenmore Air seaplanes make up to seven flights daily from downtown Seattle's Lake Union to Friday Harbor Marina (as well as to Roche Harbor Marina at the northwest corner of San Juan Island. Kenmore Air Express [2] also offers daily land plane service between Seattle's Boeing Field/King County International Airport (BFI) and Friday Harbor Airport (FRD). Complimentary shuttle transfers are available to/from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) for passengers on either Kenmore Air service. A quick and spectacular, though not cheap, way to arrive. $75-139.
  • If you have a private airplane, Friday Harbor has a well-equipped though modest airport. It is a US Customs Port of Entry, so it can be your first stop from Canada.
  • If using (scheduled) commercial airlines the nearest airports are in Seattle [3](SEA), Vancouver [4] (YVR), Victoria [5](YYJ) and Bellingham (BLI). Be sure to have the proper travel documents if needing to cross the U.S./Canadian border. Direct international flights beyond North America are in Seattle and Vancouver.

By Car[edit]

  • From Interstate 5 (I-5) (from Seattle or from Vancouver), take the exit for Highway 20 (Exit #230) in Burlington. The road turns into Commercial Drive, and runs through the heart of town (north) to 12th St. Go west (left) on 12th St which becomes Oakes past downtown Anacortes to the Washington State Ferries terminal. It is 20mi/32km from I-5 to the ferry terminal.

By Boat[edit]

  • Take the Washington Ferries, +1 888-808-7797, [6]. from Anacortes or from Sidney, BC to Friday Harbor. They also have additional sailings to/from Lopez, Orcas and/or Shaw Islands in San Juan County. The rest of the other islands are only accessible by private boat, yacht, kayak or float plane.
  • Victoria Clipper Ferry, +1-800-888-2535, [7]. The ferry runs during the summer months (Seattle & San Juan). It leaves from Seattle's pier 69, near the Sculpture Park, at 7:45 am, and gets into Friday Harbor at 11:15 am. They recommend checking in in Seattle one hour early. The ferry leaves Friday harbor at 16:30 and gets back to Seattle at 19:15. The ferry is comfortable and offers very scenic views. It is a convenient way for the car-less to get to the San Juans from Seattle. $80-145 return.
  • Puget Sound Express, +1-360 385-5288, [8]. operates passenger only ferries between Port Townsend and Friday Harbor as well as whale watching tours. $55.50 OW or $88.50 Return.
  • If you have access to a yacht, come in the marina. It is a US Customs Port of Entry, so it can be your first stop from Canada.

By Bus[edit]

The nearest bus stop(s) going to Friday Harbor are at the Anacortes & Sidney ferry terminals. If traveling by Greyhound the nearest station is at Mt Vernon where one transfer to local buses (Skagit or Island Transit) or taxi to the ferry terminal (see below):

  • Island Airporter, +1 360-378-7438, [9]. operates direct buses or vans between the SeaTac airport in Seattle and San Juan Island (Friday Harbor & Roche Harbor) via Anacortes-San Juan Ferry. No stops anywhere between SeaTac and the Anacortes ferry terminal.
  • Bellair Airporter, +1 866 235-5247, [10]. operates buses from the Seatac airport in Seattle to the Anacortes ferry terminal with a transfer of buses in Burlington.
  • Skagit Transit Rt #410 [11] operates infrequent buses from March's Point P&R to the Anacortes ferry terminal via Guemes ferry terminal (at another location) and downtown Anacortes. From Mt Vernon 'Skagit Station' take the 615 or Island Transit 411w bus to March's Point P&R. Note that Skagit Transit buses, outside of Mt Vernon & Burlington are infrequent and that the timing at the transfer points may not be consistent which means a long wait between buses. Nearest Amtrak [12] and Greyhound Station [13] are at the downtown 'Skagit Station' at 105 E Kincaid in Mt Vernon.
  • BC Transit Victoria Regional [14] operates buses from the Sidney ferry terminal to the Victoria Airport, downtown Victoria (Rt #70, 72) and up to the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay (Rt #72) for onward ferries to the Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen on the mainland.

Get around[edit]

Everything in town is within walking distance and there are plenty of places to eat and things to do for those arriving by ferry to spend a day or two. However, it should also be noted that Friday Harbor is quite commercially developed, considering its remoteness, and offers more of a laid-back, country club vibe than one of a fishing community. A car is necessary if planning to leave town to other places on the island. If you still need to rent a car or use public transportation the below are what's available:

  • San Juan Transit, +1 360-378-8887, [15]. operates limited fixed route services between Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor. ($5 each boarding, $10 round trip or $15 day ticket) as well as guided tours around the island.
  • Friday Harbor Taxi, +1 360-294-4434, [16]. a local door to door shuttle company going from home (anywhere on San Juan Island) to downtown Friday Harbor between 8:30AM to 9:30AM and back home between 2:30PM & 3:30PM for a flat $5 fee. Need 4hrs notice for pick-up.
  • M&W Auto, 725 Spring St (Spring St & Price St, 0.6mi or 1km in from the ferry terminal past the Best Western Plus-Friday Harbor Suites), +1 360-378-2794, [17]. a local car dealership that also rents cars for use on the island.
  • Susies Mopeds, 125 Nicols St (along Nichols St between Nichols Street Suites & ACE Hardware), +1 360-378-5244 (), [18]. rents mopeds, Scootcouples, Pedigo electric bikes or convertible, compact SUVs.

See[edit][add listing]

  • UW Friday Harbor Laboratories, 620 University Rd (2.5 miles north of Friday Harbor), +1 360 378-2165, [19]. Friday Harbor houses one of the oldest and most famous marine research institutions, Friday Harbor Laboratories (or Labs, as it better known to locals). Situated inside University of Washington Biological Reserve, you will see island spotted deers, raccoons, Tree frogs, Banana slugs, Columbian black-tailed deet, Norway rat, White-footed mouse etc. Meet lab guys Charley and Paul to learn about fascinating life of seaweeds.
  • Whale Museum, 62 1st St N (Along 1st St between West & Court St), +1 360 378-4710, [20].
  • The Sea Shepherd Gallery, 155 Nichol St (Next to ACE Hardware on Nichols St & Argyle), +1 360 370-5311, [21]. The shop and information center for the Sea Shepherd, the activist ship from Whale Wars and Sharkwater.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Orca Whale Watching from Sea Kayaks Biologist guides lead tours to the prime orca whale watching waters. Abundant seals, eagles, and other marine wildlife. Tour lengths range from a half-day up to 2, 3 and 5 day camping trips to the smaller islands. 360-378-5767 or 888-589-4253, whale@sea-quest-kayak.com Kayaking with Orcas Whales from San Juan Island
  • Birding and Bird-watching Tours Local bird book author/biologist Mark Lewis guides birding tours throughout the San Juan Islands, home to 300 species of birds. Tour lengths from half-day to full day to multi-days. 360-378-5767 or 888-589-4253, whale@sea-quest-kayak.com Birding Tours on San Juan Island


  • Washington State Ferries

Watch the majestic Washington state ferries sweeping in and out of Friday Harbor. Produces no waves even at 25 knots speed!

  • Sea-Planes

Watch the take-off and landing of Sea-planes (Kenmore Air)from the south edge of harbor.

  • Whale watching

West-coast of the island is famous for whale watching. You can get all relevant information in couple of tourist centers.

  • Orca Whale Watching & Wildlife-San Juan Island, WA, 2 spring Street landing (steps from the ferry), 800.450.6858, [22]. 8 to 8. Orca whale watching plus see porpoise, dolphins, eagles, rafts of sea birds and the coastlines of the San Juans. Fun@SanJuanSafaris.com $49 and up.
  • Adventure Attractions North West, Spring Street at First Street (next to ferry), 360.378.6545, [23]. N Whale Watching, Sea Kayaking, Flight Seeing, Bike Tours and Fishing. $49 +.
  • Feed Popeye, The pier. Popeye the harbor seal has been coming into Friday Harbor for 24 years. Walk out on the pier past the sea plane reservations and the dumpsters for the moored ships, and head down the ramp. There will be a seafood shop on your left. Popeye is often in front of the boat the China Doll. The seafood stand sells bags of fish you can feed her. $5.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Friday Harbor Drug, 210 Spring St. (2nd & Spring), +1 360 378-4421. Town drug-shop has a specialized astroglide section, a must visit for island couples.
  • Funk & Junk Antiques, 85 Nichols St (Along Nichol St between 'A' St & Sunshine Alley, 2 blocks up from the ferry on 'A' St to Nichol St), +1 360 378-2638, [24]. 11:00AM-5:30PM daily. Friday Harbor's oldest antique store, with eclectic assortment. Fine antiques to funk.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • CoHo (gourmet dining), 120 Nichols St (on Spring St turn left at Argyle St, at gas station. Turn left at Nichol St at other side of gas station. Restaurant is between 'A' St & Sunshine Alley), 360-378-3660, [25]. Serves Island grown Pacific cuisine with an international flair. Coho’s team of talented chefs have created an exciting menu developed around the seasonality of fresh ingredients from the surrounding Islands with menu ideas drawn from the owner’s European heritage and her Cookbook, La Cucina Anna Maria: Good Life Recipes from San Juan Island. Each night they showcase simple and artful fare that allows the flavors of the individual ingredients to resonate on the palate.
  • Vic's Drive In, 25 2nd Street N (At 2nd St N & Reed St, next to the Masonic Temple), 360-378-8427. since 1958! Basic burger joint, good food at good prices.
  • Roy's Milkshakes. Best.Milkshakes.Ever.
  • The Hungry Clam, 205 'A' Street (Just up from the parking lot for the ferry at A St & 1st St.), 360-378-3474. Greasy but good. Delicious fish and chips, and the few taps they have are interesting. $9.99 for two-piece fish and chips.
  • Friday Harbor Laboratories Dining Hall You will never forget the yummiest taste you will have of roasted beef bagel sandwich at Dining, FHL, Friday harbor. FHL Dining also features a special garden salad with honey mustard.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Herb's Tavern, 80 First St. (First & Spring St), =1 360 378-7076. Don't miss Wednesday night karaoke at Herb's. Where the movie free willy was filmed

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Friday Harbor Suites, 680 Spring St, +1 360 378-3031 (toll free: +1 800 752-5752, fax: +1 360 378-4228), [26].
  • Bird Rock Hotel (Bird Rock Hotel, Friday Harbor Lodging), 35 First Street (At 1st St & West, 1 block up from the ferry and 2 blocks west (right) from ferry), 800-352-2632 (), [27]. checkin: 3 pm; checkout: 11 am. A refreshing combination of a historic hotel exterior and stylishly modern interiors. 15 guest rooms all including a gourmet continental breakfast, free beach cruiser bicycles and use of the Earthbox Inn & Spa, our sister property, indoor heated pool.
  • Earthbox Inn and Spa (Earthbox Inn, Friday Harbor Hotel), 410 Spring Street (4 blocks up from ferry on right hand side), +1 360-378-4000 (toll free: +1 800-793-4756, , fax: +1 360-378-4351), [28]. checkin: 3 pm; checkout: 11 am. A delightful blend of cool resort motel and classic vintage motor inn with an indoor heated pool, full-service spa, 72 stylishly renovated rooms, free WiFi and complimentary beach cruiser bicycles.
  • Friday Harbor House, 130 Front St N (1.5 blocks from Washington State Ferries landing, across the street from public marina and commercial ferries), +1 360 378-8455, [29].
  • Island Inn at 123 West, 123 Front St N, +1 (360) 378-4400 or 877-512-9262, [30]. Contemporary styled 1 & 2 bedroom penthouse suites, euro-style guest rooms. In town, on the waterfront, 1.5 blocks from Washington State Ferries landing, across the street from public marina and commercial ferries. Easy walking distance to shops & restaurants. (48.535524,-123.016194)
  • Nichols Street Suites, 85 Nichols Street, +1 360-378-2638 (toll free: +1 866-374-4272, ), [31]. . Two deluxe in-town suites, decorated with selections from Funk and Junk Antiques and original art. Sleeps 2-6 people. Book online.
  • Wafarers Rest, 35 Malcom Street, +1 360-378-6428 (), [32]. . Private rooms at the Wayfarer’s Rest are available for 1 to 6 people. Most rooms use shared bathrooms except for the group room (dorm) with 6 twin beds which has its own facilities. Rooms vary from two twin for friends traveling together to a room with a full bed and two twins for families. They also have a huge common area featuring 2 full kitchens, dining tables and comfortable couches. There is a covered back porch as well as covered storage for bicycles.

Get out[edit]


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