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Anniversary Getaway San Juan Island

My husband and I got married on San Juan Island and decided to return for our “Wood” (fifth) anniversary to the place where it all happened. That was precisely why we chose San Juan Island as our wedding destination in the first place: a breathtakingly beautiful place, yet not so far away that it would remain a once-in-a-lifetime destination.

San Juan Suite at Bird Rock Hotel
The San Juan Suite at Bird Rock Hotel

We decided to stay at the boutique Bird Rock Hotel, a historic Inn, just  a block and a half from the ferry. Their online literature warned of possible street noise early in the mornings and late at night due to the fact they are right in the heart of a bustling port town. My husband, who has an uncanny ability to see the positive in everything, simply announced that we would just have to join the party! I love him so. The warning turned out to be unfounded. We stayed in the San Juan Suite, which the super nice Bird Rock staff unofficially calls the “honeymoon suite” on the third floor with harbor view, kitchenette and private balcony. Due to its historic status, the hotel does not have an elevator, and the stairs to our room would have been hard to maneuver with mobility issues, but it was perfect for us feeling like we were on top of the world. What was not hard to maneuver at all was the gigantic bathroom with two-person shower and aeriated tub, what a treat.

South Beach in American Camp National Historical Park
South Beach is the longest beach on the island

Our first stop after checking into our hotel, was South Beach in American Camp National Historical Park, where we had exchanged vows five years previously under the loving eyes of family and friends. This time, just the two of us, we stood at that same spot and looked deep into each other’s eyes and whispered that we would do it all again in a heartbeat. A sea lion couple swam by, just like on the day we got married. We took that as a sign from the universe. My Babe made a fire in the exact same fire ring we had at our wedding and we watched the sun set behind the snow-covered Olympic Mountains, happy and grateful to be here and to feel so alive.

The next morning, I was treated to breakfast in bed while watching the sailboats bob in the water--courtesy of my one and only. I decided that every day should start just like that. Next up was a couple’s massage at the Spa at Earthbox, Bird Rock’s sister hotel two blocks up the street. Earthbox has an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub and a sauna, we didn’t check out this time, due to our luxurious bathing options at our own hotel. The massages, however, were just what the doctor ordered. I hadn’t felt that good in years.

For lunch we drove to the Westcott Bay Shellfish Farm near English Camp National Historical Park for freshly shucked oysters, island-made bread a lovely salad and a bottle of bubbly, not to mention beautiful views on this working farm. I noticed that their “Net Shed”, a rustic hall with locally made furniture, would also be a lovely place for a wedding.

While on the north end of the isle, we visited an altogether different “farm”, the acclaimed San Juan Distillery, where we tasted Salal Gin, Madrone Brandy and Lavender & Wild Rose Liquor. San Juan Island Distillery’s spirits are hard to find on the mainland, so we bought some as gifts. Such gorgeous bottles and labels.

Pigs in Martinis
Pigs in Martinis, What?!

Next off, we explored the nearby historic Roche Harbor Village. We strolled the docks and their cobble-stoned street lined with artist booths, before having the most romantic sunset dinner at the fancy McMillen’s Dining Room. Oh my word, those lamb chops! My “Pig War Martini” even had a tiny pig hanging from its rim, which is now on display on my desk at work. Very sweet.

Back in Friday Harbor, the staff at our hotel had saved us a few homemade cookies they serve with lemonade every afternoon. Those guys were so nice. Always asking how our day  was  going and what they could do to make it better.

Stellar Sea Lions Living the Good Life
Stellar Sea Lions Living the Good Life

The grand finale of our anniversary weekend was Sunday morning’s whale watching tour with Western Prince Whale Watching on their bright orange zodiac boat. We got suited up in all-weather suits and when we were out of the harbor and started to go full speed, I felt like a kid on a rollercoaster. My face was hurting from smiling so much. We saw a humpback, a family of Transient Killer Whales and numerous sea lions, seals and eagles. We got pretty close to the sea lions and smelled them before we saw them, oh dear. I chuckled to my husband that these really must be are our couple’s spirit animals.

Recharged, happy and light, we returned to our lives, knowing that we would come back again. And again.  And again.

"What a delightful place to stay!...

The staff is wonderful and the little extras

make it a comfortable place to stay."