How to find Summer Solitude on San Juan Island

Friday Harbor and San Juan Island are such fun in the summer. The streets and docks are abuzz with ice-cream holding toddlers, hand-holding newlyweds, groups of friends biking or getting ready for a kayaking, fishing or whale watching adventure. There are summer fairs and Farmer’s Markets, free live concerts and Shakespeare under the Stars. Yet solitude is never far on San Juan Island. Here are our favorite uncrowded spots and where to find them:

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South Beach

San Juan Island’s longest and most dramatic beach in American Camp National Historical Park offers picnic tables, a bathroom, and the most breathtaking views of the snow-covered Olympic mountains. If you walk a few minutes in any direction, you will find yourself alone, only surrounded by driftwood, prairie and the occasional otter and fox.

Sea Glass Beach

Further south, just past Cattle Point Lighthouse, find the Cattle Point Interpretive Center, a shelter overlooking rugged cliffs with trails and interpretive signs. Take the steep steps carved into the cliffs and explore the crescent shaped Sea Glass Beach. Can you guess why it’s named that way by the locals?

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San Juan Island, Washington
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Biggs Lake

Park where Roche Harbor and West Valley Road meet and follow the trail west into the woods. Biggs Lake is Roche Harbor’s watershed. Please be mindful of that and don’t allow dogs or horses near the water. The silence here is stunning. Have a picnic or walk all around the lake.

Reuben Tarte Park

From Friday Harbor take Roche Harbor Road and take a right on Rouleau Road. Follow signs to the park from there. This little gem on the northeast side of San Juan Island has pebbly beaches and  a rock bluff. The park looks out at Saturna, Flattop, Waldron, Sucia and Orcas Islands.

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San Juan Island, Washington
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4th of July Beach

North of South Beach find signs to 4th of July Beach. You can see both, Friday Harbor’s and Lopez Island’s Independence Day fireworks from here, but nobody knows for sure if that is the reason for its name. The Salish Sea here is calm and the sandy beach protected from wind. Hear the sea lions roar while beach combing and sunning.

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San Juan Island, Washington
Bird Rock Hotel Washington