Best of the Pacific N.W.: Exploring Three of Washington’s San Juan Islands

Enjoy art and nature, learn about orca whales, visit a local winery, discover museums and immerse yourself in history and tradition as you explore San Juan, Orcas and Lopez islands.
Rating (4.81)
Program No. 18520RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the San Juan Archipelago while you uncover the cultures and landscapes unique to San Juan, Orcas and Lopez islands. Meet historians, artists, farmers, preservationists and other islanders who make up the fabric of these communities, and explore scenic shorelines, mountain vistas, rare coastal prairie and the region's iconic evergreen forests.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 5-10 blocks and on uneven paths. Standing up to one hour. Elevators unavailable at some locations. Buses do not have lifts.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Spend a day on Orcas Island to enjoy the panoramic marine vista from Mount Constitution, a local winery and a unique schoolhouse from the 1800s.
  • A ride aboard the Washington State Ferry takes you to Lopez Island to discuss and view sustainable farming and housing on the islands.
  • On San Juan Island, take field trips to National Historic Parks, a picturesque lighthouse and more.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. You might be interested in a four-night, more leisurely version of this program, "Washington’s San Juan Islands at a Slower Pace" (#10013). Or, for a similar Women's-Only program, please see, "Exploring Three of Washington’s San Juan Islands With Women” (#24070).
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Michael Vouri
Michael retired as the chief of interpretation and historian for San Juan Island National Park after more than 21 years. He has written books about the Pig War, the Royal Marines and San Juan Island. He has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Air Force and as assistant director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael has been a Road Scholar instructor on San Juan Island since 1997 and a Group Leader since 2016.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Bill Engle
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Kevin Culmback
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Michael Vouri
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Andre Entermann
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Shona Aitken
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Kevin Loftus
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Friday Harbor
by Mike Vouri, San Juan Historical Society, Julia Vouri
A book that reviews the rich history and residents of Friday Harbor throughout the past 100 years.
Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography
by June Burn
This autobiography chronicles Farrar and June Burns travels around the United States and their experience homesteading in the San Juan Islands, teaching Eskimos and traveling across the United States in a covered wagon. She wrote extensively for various periodicals and wrote several books. Burn's autobiography Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography (1941) documents much of her early life story, particularly her time on Sentinel and Waldron Islands in Washington’s San Juan Islands. The book has been republished several times.
Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands (second edition)
by Scott Atkinson & Fred Sharpe
This wonderful field guide illustrates and describes more than 190 species of wildflowers, shrubs, trees and weeds that occur commonly throughout the San Juan Islands as well as the Gulf Islands of near Vancouver Island, Canada. The text also includes information on how the climate, topography and geology of the Islands affect plant life.
San Juan Islands, Afoot and Afloat
by Marge & Ted Mueller
Thousands of visitors are drawn annually to the San Juan Islands, which are famed for their safe, scenic boating, lush meadows and dense forests, abundant bird life, and fascinating bits of history. Most of those visitors (and residents alike) have relied on this best-selling guide to outdoor recreation in the Islands. Now in a fully revised third edition, the book covers everything you want to know about park and marina facilities, beaches, shorelines, historic sites, natural science, and marine life. Whether you arrive by land, sea, or air, this fact-filled guide is a must for enjoying the best of the San Juans.
The Light on the Island
by Helene Glidden
Classic story of a young girl growing up on Patos Island in the San Juan Archipelago. Her parents raised thirteen children while her father served as the Patos Island lighthouse keeper from 1905-1913. Helene reminisces about the adventure and heartbreak experienced on a beautiful but remote island where smugglers, old timers, and "God" weave in and out of their lives.

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