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10 Little known Facts about San Juan Island

Updated May 2017

Even if you have been coming to the San Juan Islands every year since you were a child, we have gathered some fun facts about this beautiful slice of paradise, some of which may surprise you. May we present, in no particular order, 10 little known facts about San Juan Island:

  1. No squirrels

A species must either come by boat or airplane or cross 20 miles of water to get here. We have deer, rabbits, rats and foxes, but these little bushy-tailed friends have not made it to the isle.

  1. Tons of Bald Eagles

You probably have seen eagles on the island, but did you know there are more nesting Bald Eagle couples than in any other county in the country? They live on the north and northwest side of San Juan Island, because the light is better for hunting there. For more great photos of eagles like the one at the top- visit our friend  Chris Teren’s website where you can see great shots of whales and San Juan Island scenery, too.

  1. We are Mountains Tops

The San Juan Islands, an archipelago of over 700 islands with 172 having a name, are 100-million-year-old mountaintops, carved out by glaciers.

English Camp, San Juan Island, Washington - The Pig War

English Camp - Site of the Pig War

  1. The last and longest war happened here

San Juan had the dubious pleasure of hosting the longest running war on American soil, and so far the last one. The Pig War between England and America lasted from 1859 to 1871 and decided once and for all, that San Juan Island is on American soil.

  1. John Wayne and President Roosevelt were here

Both, John Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt were once avid visitors at the Roche Harbor Resort. John Wayne’s custom made, oversized bathtub is still in use at the hotel.

Deadman Bay San Juan Island

The Infamous Deadman Bay

  1. Excellent smuggling

Our practical location between Canada and the American mainland made the island a smuggler’s paradise--perfect for wool, liquor, drug and slave smuggling. Deadman Bay was so-named because a smuggler of Chinese slaves was in the habit of throwing the slaves, chained together in burlap sacks, overboard whenever border patrol boarded his ship. The ocean currents then dragged the poor souls to this beach.

  1. No Rivers

We have several freshwater lakes, springs and creeks, but no rivers.

  1. No Traffic Lights

None. Anywhere. We have stop signs and a round-about at which it becomes very apparent who paid attention in Driver’s Ed and who didn’t.

Fresh Pizza at San Juan Island's Farmer's Market

  1. No Fast Food Chains

We are proud of that one. Most places here serve made-from-scratch, locally-sourced, yummy, healthy food. We have quite a few Farm-to-Table restaurants, an excellent Farmer's Market and an outstanding Food Coop. Our high school has a vegetable garden and its own chef preparing healthy, gourmet meals for our kids.

  1. The world’s most awesome Documentary Film Festival

The Friday Harbor Film Festival is held every November and continues to hold its promise to entertain, inspire and enlighten. It is so much fun to walk from venue to venue in our little town and meet the filmmakers at the gala held at our lovely Community Theatre. Before you go, check for Film Festival Lodging Specials at our sister property, the Earthbox Inn & Spa.

"What a delightful place to stay!...

The staff is wonderful and the little extras

make it a comfortable place to stay."