San Juan County
Known to locals as the "Magic Islands," the San Juan Islands form a bit of a banana belt: San Juan Island averages 55 more sunny days a year than Seattle (70 miles to the south), and Lopez Island actually has a profusion of cacti on its southern reaches. But of all the enchanting islands that exist in San Juan County (hundreds of which don't appear until low tide), only 172 have names, and Washington State Ferries serve only four of them: Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, and Shaw. On weekends, holidays, and throughout the summer months, prepare for huge lines of people waiting to catch the popular ferries.
People reside on 60 of the islands, while another 83 belong to the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Area (and, except for Matia and Turn Islands, these wilderness islands cannot legally be trod upon). Tourists, bicyclists (who love the flat terrain that characterizes Lopez Island), and summer-home owners from throughout the United States inundate the few vacation destinations. San Juan County is one of the best places in the world for sighting whales, bald eagles, and English skylarks. Sea kayaking is another primary recreation, with boats and tours offered nearly everywhere.
To get to the Washington State Ferry dock in Anacortes, take Interstate 5 to Burlington/Exit 220; turn west onto State Highway 20 and follow it to Anacortes. From there, signs will direct you for the last five miles to the terminal.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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