Friday Harbor is the main city on San Juan Island, the most populous of the San Juan Islands. It is also the county seat of San Juan County. Friday Harbor is quite commercially developed, considering its remoteness, and offers more of a laid-back, country club vibe than one of a fishing community.
- Washington State Ferries. Allows vehicles, bikes, and walk-on passengers. The schedule is posted on the WSDOT website. It's recommended that you make a reservation. Public transportation options between the ferry terminal and downtown Anacortes and the Amtrak Station in Mount Vernon are available through the Skagit Transit bus system. Connections to downtown Seattle and SeaTac airport are available through the Bellair Airporter shuttle. Round-trip ferry ticket costs $12.95 for adults, $45.00 for standard vehicles, current fares listed on WSDOT.
- Victoria Clipper Ferry, toll-free: +1-800-888-2535. The ferry runs during the summer months (Seattle & San Juan). It leaves from Seattle's pier 69, near the Sculpture Park, at 7:45AM, and gets into Friday Harbor at 11:15AM. They recommend checking in in Seattle one hour early. The ferry leaves Friday harbor at 16:30 and gets back to Seattle at 19:15. The ferry is comfortable and offers very scenic views. It is a convenient way for the car-less to get to the San Juans from Seattle. $80-145 return.
By sea plane
- Kenmore Air, toll-free: +1-866-435-9524, fax: +1 425-485-4774, e-mail: reservations@KenmoreAir.com. Kenmore Air seaplanes make up to seven flights daily from downtown Seattle's Lake Union to Friday Harbor Marina (as well as to Roche Harbor Marina at the northwest corner of San Juan Island. Kenmore Air Express also offers daily land plane service between Seattle's Boeing Field/King County International Airport (IATA: BFI) and Friday Harbor Airport (IATA: FRD). Complimentary shuttle transfers are available to/from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA) for passengers on either Kenmore Air service. A quick and spectacular, though not cheap, way to arrive. $75-139.
Friday Harbor has a well-equipped though modest airport. Kenmore Air serves Seattle Boeing Field airport directly (35 minute flight). It is a US Customs Port of Entry, so it can be your first stop from Canada by personal aircraft.
- If you have access to a boat, guest moorage is available in the marina. Friday Harbor is an official U.S. ports-of-entry and can process boaters through customs. The Cardinal Rule is touch land at customs dock before any other stops, fines for not doing so can be up to $5000. Besides a passport for everyone on board, you will need your boat's license number and User Fee Decal number.
Customs enforces USDA guidelines for what foods are acceptable to bring into the country and these guidelines are constantly changing so it is best to check in with them before arriving. Boaters are responsible for knowing the prohibited foods and can be fined for not declaring them.
- Island Airporter, ☎ +1 360 378-7438. Departs Sea-Tac International Airport Monday through Saturday at 12PM. Island Airport runs one trip each day to/from Sea-Tac Airport to two locations on the San Juan Islands including Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor. Ferry boarding is guaranteed and the trip is scheduled to take 3 hours and 45 minutes. $49.99 + $6.55 ferry pass.
Everything is within walking distance from the harbor and there are plenty of places to eat and things to do for those arriving by ferry to spend a day or two.
- M&W Auto, 725 Spring St, ☎ +1 360 378-2794. Closed Sundays. A car can be returned at any time on Sunday when the dealership is closed.
- Island Bicycles, 380 Argyle Ave, ☎ +1 360 378 4941, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- San Juan Taxi, ☎ +1 360 378 8294.
- Friday Harbor Laboratories. Friday Harbor houses one of the oldest and most famous marine research institutions, Friday Harbor Laboratories (or Labs, as it better known to locals). Situated inside University of Washington Biological Reserve (2.5 miles north of Friday Harbor), you will see island raccoons, Tree frogs, Banana slugs, Columbian black-tailed deer, Norway rat, White-footed mouse etc.
- The laboratories are located on a 476-acre biological preserve which is open to the public for day-use. Public visitors are asked to check in at the Office before exploring the Preserve and to stay on the well-traveled, wide, fire-access road (the “fire trail”). The shore trail splits from the fire trail and goes along the coastline.
- The Whale Museum.
- The Sea Shepherd Gallery. The small shop and information center for the Sea Shepherd, the activist ship from Whale Wars and Sharkwater.
- Kayaking — There are several kayaking tour organizers in the town. Typically costs $85 for one day trips up to $150 per day for camping tours.
- Washington State Ferries — Watch the majestic Washington state ferries sweeping in and out of Friday Harbor. Produces no waves even at 25 knots speed!
- Sea-Planes — Watch the take-off and landing of seaplanes (Kenmore Air)from the south edge of harbor.
- Whale watching — West-coast of the island is famous for whale watching. You can get all relevant information in couple of tourist centers.
- Orca Whale Watching & Wildlife-San Juan Island, WA, 2 spring Street landing (steps from the ferry), toll-free: +1-800-450-6858, e-mail: Fun@SanJuanSafaris.com. 8 to 8. Orca whale watching plus see porpoise, dolphins, eagles, rafts of sea birds and the coastlines of the San Juans. $49 and up.
- Adventure Attractions North West, Spring Street at First St (next to ferry), ☎ +1 360 378-6545. Whale watching, sea kayaking, seeing seeing by seaplane; bike touring; fishing. $49 +.
- 'Funk and Junk Antiques', 85 Nichols Street, 2 blocks up from ferry, ☎ +1 360 378-2638. 11:00-5:30 daily. Friday Harbor's oldest antique store, with eclectic assortment. Fine antiques to funk.
- Feed Popeye, The pier. Popeye the harbor seal has been coming into Friday Harbor for 24 years. Walk out on the pier past the sea plane reservations and the dumpsters for the moored ships, and head down the ramp. There will be a seafood shop on your left. Popeye is often in front of the boat the China Doll. The seafood stand sells bags of fish you can feed her. When the seafood stand is closed in winter, Popeye is less likely to be around. $5.
- Friday Harbor Marketplace, 515 Market St, ☎ +1 360 378-3238. Mon-Sat: 8-6.
- Friday Harbor Seafood, Main Dock (Walk out on the pier past the sea plane reservations and the dumpsters for the moored ships, and head down the ramp. There will be a seafood shop on your left.), ☎ +1 360 378-5779, e-mail: email@example.com. Closed during winter.
- CoHo (gourmet dining), nichols St (on spring st turn left at gas stateion). Serves Island grown Pacific cuisine with an international flair. Coho’s team of talented chefs have created an exciting menu developed around the seasonality of fresh ingredients from the surrounding Islands with menu ideas drawn from the owner’s European heritage and her Cookbook, La Cucina Anna Maria: Good Life Recipes from San Juan Island. Each night they showcase simple and artful fare that allows the flavors of the individual ingredients to resonate on the palate.
- Vic's Drive In, 25 2nd St. since 1958! Basic burger joint, good food at good prices.
- Roy's Drive-Thru, 25 Nichols St, ☎ +1 360 378-8822. 6:30AM-5:30PM. Roy's milkshakes are particularly popular.
- The Hungry Clam, 205 'A' St (Just up from the parking lot for the ferry at A St & 1st St.), ☎ +1 360 378-3474. Greasy but good. Delicious fish and chips, and the few taps they have are interesting. $9.99 for two-piece fish and chips.
- Spring Street Deli, 135 Spring St, ☎ +1 360 378-5959. Hot and cold sandwiches and wraps, freshly made to order. Good selection of beer available across the hall at the Spring Street General Market.
- Herb's Tavern, 80 1st St, ☎ +1 360 378-7076. Dive bar with greasy burgers and beer. Karaoke night is at Wednesday and stories that Free Willy II was filmed at least in part in the tavern. $11-30.
- Best Western Friday Harbor Suites, 680 Spring St, ☎ +1 360 378-3031, toll-free: +1-800-752-5752, fax: +1 360 378-4228. Best blended margaritas in town, according to John (driver and operator of Island Airporter and a local resident).
- Earthbox Motel and Spa, 410 Spring St, ☎ +1 360 378-4000, toll-free: +1-800-793-4756, fax: +1 360 378-4351, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nichols Street Suites, 85 Nichols St, ☎ +1 360 378-2638, toll-free: +1-866-374-4272, e-mail: email@example.com. Two deluxe in-town suites, decorated with selections from Funk and Junk Antiques and original art. Sleeps 2-6 people. Book online.
- Birdrock Hotel, 35 First St (Three blocks from the ferry landing), toll-free: +1-800-352-2632, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern boutique San Juan Island Hotel. 15 Unique rooms with fireplaces, jetted tubs, continental breakfast, free bicycle rentals.
- Island Inn at 123 West, PO Box 2346, ☎ +1 360 378-4400, toll-free: +1-877-512-9262. Contemporary styled 1 & 2 bedroom penthouse suites, euro-style guest rooms. In town, on the waterfront, 1.5 blocks from Washington State Ferries landing, across the street from public marina and commercial ferries. Easy walking distance to shops & restaurants.