Roche Harbor is a small town on the northwest coast of San Juan Island, namesake of the picturesque San Juan Islands group. It has a bustling yacht harbor and floatplane service to Seattle. It makes a good base for exploring San Juan Island.
- Kenmore Air, toll-free: +1-877-359-5366, fax: +1-425-485-4774, e-mail: reservations@KenmoreAir.com. Float plans make to seven flights from Lake Union in Seattle to Roche Harbor marina and Friday Harbor, and then return. Shuttles can bring you from Seattle-Tacoma airport to Lake Union. A spectular, though not cheap, way to arrive. $75-139.
- Take the ferry or a plane to Friday Harbor, at the other end of the island, and then a 15-minute taxi ride to Roche Harbor.
- San Juan Island Transit. Bus service between Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, and other island destinations. 20 minutes. Runs up to once every hour during the day at peak season. $5 (adult).
- If you have access to a yacht, come in the marina.
- If you have an airplane, Roche Harbor has a small, private paved airstrip.
Roche 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.
Roche Harbor is small enough that you can walk everywhere. The whole town is oriented around the harbour, and the hotels and docks that surround it.
- Sculpture Garden, opposite the airport. Dozens of sculptures in over 10 acres. $5.
- The marina is the heart of town. It is jammed with a variety of pleasure boats. The ambience is very pleasant, especially when the weather is fine. See the toilet service boat, M.V. Phecal Freak (motto: "we take crap from anyone" — really!)
- Lime Kiln Cafe. A delightful setting at the end of an old wharf. Very pleasant in the summer. $10-15 for lunch and soft drink, including tip and tax.
- Hotel de Haro (Roche Harbor), 248 Reuben Memorial Dr, ☎ +1 360 378-2155. A historic, 130 year old hotel resort right on the water. $170-220.
Bicycling is very pleasant on San Juan Island. There are various bike rental options, including one by the airport. (It also rents motor scooters and jeeps.)
One of the beaches on San Juan Island is a great place to watch orcas (whales).