San Juan Islands
A popular destination on the state ferry system, the San Juan archipelago contains more than 170 islands strung like an emerald necklace off northwest mainland Washington. The “San Juans” as they are known to locals, are situated at the juncture of the straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca, sheltered from the Pacific Ocean by the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island. The Islands were once part of a mountain range connecting Washington State to Vancouver Island. The ferry serves four of the islands - Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, and Shaw. The islands are primary destinations for visitors wanting to whale watch, kayak, bicycle, camp or just relax on “island time.” An important ecosystem, 83 islands in the San Juans are part of the San Juan Wildlife Refuge, offering protection to seabirds, seals and sea lions and approximately 90 Orca whales who are year-round residents of the area.