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Visiting Friday Harbor and San Juan Island From Semiahmoo Resort, WA

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Beautiful sunset overlooking the harbor of Blaine, Washington from the Inn at Semiahmoo

Beautiful sunset overlooking the harbor of Blaine, Washington from the Inn at Semiahmoo

State of Washington

This portion of our vacation trip addresses the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor, and our stay at the resort of Semiahmoo. In July of 1989, my mother, niece, and I had enjoyed the start of our 15-day vacation by spending a few days in Seattle, Washington. One of those days, we checked out the Bavarian-styled town of Leavenworth, which was an easy day's drive back and forth.

When leaving Seattle to continue our vacation, we stopped and had lunch at the famous Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls, and our next destination was to spend two nights at the charming Inn at Semiahmoo.

In planning these trips, I always did a lot of research ahead of time and discovered that the location of the Semiahmoo Resort was along the route we wished to take. So I made reservations in advance, and our room was awaiting our arrival.

As we headed towards our destination for two nights, we passed many huge lots of boats for sale. It reminded us of the large lots full of cars for sale in Houston. That makes sense. Water is ever-present along the coastline of Washington State.

Inn at Semiahmoo

The Inn at Semiahmoo is a resort that sits on the former site of a historic salmon cannery. Its location is at the top of a sand-spit at the entrance to Blaine harbor. The inn offers spectacular views and entertainment from each of its 800 acres.

The resort is given top ratings by AAA, the Mobile Guide, Conde' Nast, and others. It rates highly as one of the top resorts in the world. We did not utilize many of the offered amenities such as tennis, golf, sailing, charter fishing, and massages, etc. What we did do was relax and walk along the beach before and during sunset.

There are five miles of coastline that are in their natural state. We loved the almost solitary feeling of walking along the calm waters of the bay and looking at the interesting pieces of driftwood that had washed up onshore. Sunset cruises took off nightly from that spot. We had reservations the next day for a San Juan Island cruise.

We enjoyed the evening on land and chose to dine at the casual Packers Lounge & Oyster Bar in a separate building facing the bay. We each had the same thing to eat, which was delicious fish and chips plus a salad. The rooms were nicely appointed, and we awakened the next day refreshed and ready to go.

San Juan Islands Cruise

It was a Tuesday morning when we boarded the Grayline Water Sightseeing tour of the San Juan Islands. It was so convenient for us since it departed right from the Inn at Semiahmoo. We left at 10:00 am to return later that day at 6:30 pm back to Semiahmoo.

The weather cooperated, giving us a nice clear day for sailing on the "Star of Semiahmoo." The ship was comfortable, offering good views from inside with large windows or on top of the canopied deck with wide-open spaces to walk around and take photos.

There was a sound system, and as we passed different islands, we found out what made each one special. Some of the islands offered wildlife refuges. Some were private islands with wealthy people's homes visible from our vantage point on the ship. Many of those people utilized private airplanes to get back and forth to their homes on the islands.

Onboard the ship was a galley, and they offered sandwiches and other snacks and beverages. Naturally, restrooms were on board as this tour took several hours.


San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are in the northwest corner of Washington State in what is called Puget Sound. There are 172 islands in the San Juan group. Some of the islands are tiny, some of them are larger. The San Juan Islands have also been declared a U.S. National Monument.

One sees many marine animals that live in and around these islands. Commonly seen are seabirds, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and, depending upon the time of year (and luck), the Orca whales.

Friday Harbor

We were let off the ship at Friday Harbor, located on the large island of San Juan. We had four hours to do what we wished. Some people shopped, others visited the Whale Museum.

We took time out for lunch and also took the 2-hour double-decker bus tour of San Juan Island.

The Pig War

What almost brought America and Britain close to war was the shooting of a pig!

We were taken to the English Camp via our double-decker bus tour and learned more about this incident which took place back in 1860. For many years both American and British troops co-existed peacefully on this island. They also both laid claim to the island. The English Camp is now on a portion of the San Juan Island National Historical Park.

What happened to bring things to a fever pitch occurred when a pig that was allowed to roam freely on the island kept digging up a private American citizen's potato patch. Lyman Cutler kept complaining to the British, but nothing corrected the situation. He finally caught the pig in the act and shot him. Cutler refused to pay $100 for reparation, and until negotiated and finally settled, tensions between the nations were tense.

In 1872 after a peaceful arbitration, the San Juan Islands would become a part of the territorial United States, and by October of that same year, the British abandoned the island.

The English camp

The English camp

Lighthouse, Whales, and Cattle

After touring the English camp and learning about the Pig War, our next tour stop was at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse.

This area is where people can often see whales because a pod of them lives in the area. We did not have the good fortune of seeing them that day. Lime Kiln Point State Park is the first whale-watching park in the country.

This area is barren and windswept compared to what we had just enjoyed seeing at the English camp. Seabirds were in abundance, and the lighthouse has served as a beacon to people in this area for years.

Our next stop was at the Cattle Point Picnic area, where we found out that cattle used to be dropped off of boats and would swim to shore in this area.

Our Final Hours and Return Trip

After our bus tour of the San Juan Island, we had enough time to select a restaurant and have our main meal for the day before reporting back to the ship.

We chose the Downrigger, which was located right on a beautiful location overlooking Friday Harbor. It offered a great view of all the sailing vessels, ships, and boats of all types. Dining alfresco, we soaked up the charming atmosphere. The sea breeze was refreshing.

Before boarding the Star of Semiahmoo for our return trip, a ship's steward fished a small (approximately 2-inch diameter) translucent jellyfish out of the water, placing it into my niece's hand, who had volunteered to hold it. It is the only jellyfish in the world that does not sting!

Leaving Friday Harbor onboard the ship, we took a different route through the San Juan Islands on our way back to the Inn at Semiahmoo. We viewed many seals and porpoises. We even spotted a bald eagle land in its nest high up in a tree on an island.

Ending our day trip with many sights, sounds, and newly acquired knowledge regarding the San Juan Islands, we went to bed that night enjoying our last evening at the Inn at Semiahmoo resort. I would recommend this part of our trip to anyone! There would be so much more to do and see in this area if one had more time. We certainly enjoyed our introduction to this beautiful part of the country.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2021:

Hi Vidya,

It was so much fun learning about this portion of the State of Washington. The only way to get to the San Juan Islands is by boat or airplane. Experiencing that by ferry was fun.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I am so happy you enjoyed reading this and seeing the photos of this part of the world. It is beautiful. Thanks for your comment and good wishes. Enjoy your week ahead!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Many people seem to like lighthouses. It would have been fun to see the pod of whales near that Lime Kiln Lighthouse the day we stopped there. Thanks for your comment.

VIDYA D SAGAR on April 18, 2021:

A very interesting read Peggy. You must have enjoyed this wonderful vacation. Great article, beautiful photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Yes, travel plans for many people have been put aside because of the pandemic. At least we can share photos about places we like to visit, thanks to the Internet. Thanks for your virtual visit to this part of the State of Washington.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on April 18, 2021:

Another great hub, Peggy. I enjoyed the read. The pictures are beautiful. What a nice trip! I am sure you enjoyed a lot.Thanks for sharing.

Have a blessed weekend

Blessings and Peace

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 18, 2021:

Wow! This is an amazing place and you describe with great insight. I don't know what it is, but there is something about lighthouses that make me curious about its structure.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 18, 2021:

Hi Peggy it has been a roller-coaster ride having to live this challenging lifestyle or a year. Travelling made almost impossible and ls slowly recovering from that. I wish I could travel there but not as yet. Thank you for an interesting and informative hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2021:

Hi Ann,

I am so happy for you that you are once again able to see your children and grandchildren. It is something that so many parents and grandparents have missed being able to do during this pandemic. Enjoy your sunshiny day! It is a beautiful one here as well.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 18, 2021:

Yes, thank you, Peggy, we are well. Enjoying the sunshine at the moment, as the Easter holidays have been wonderful. I've seen all the children a few times now, so I'm happy!


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2021:

Hi Ann,

Getting to see these fabulous locations was fun. Who knew that a pig could start a war! I wish we could have seen the orca whales like the ones in the video I found. At least viewing them in the video show people what is commonly seen in that area of the island. Thanks for your comment and good wishes. We are well, thanks. I hope the same thing for you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2021:

Hi MG,

Someday this current pandemic will be in the rearview mirror. In the meantime, you can add places to your bucket list of places to see. We had a lot of fun seeing the ones mentioned in this article.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 18, 2021:

Great article about your holiday in this part of the US. I feel as though I was there, in the fresh air and sunshine, eating those fresh fish can chips! Your photos, as always, are enchanting. I want to see it all!

I hope you're keeping safe and well, Peggy.


MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 17, 2021:

Peggy, I consider myself a globe trotter but many times you catch me on the flatfoot by mentioning places I have never seen. This is a wonderful place but I don't how I will fit it in with the China virus going global.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 17, 2021:

Hi Alex,

I am so glad that you enjoyed learning about this fascinating part of the world. We surely enjoyed our brief visit and would enjoy a return visit.

Alex on April 17, 2021:

Thank you Peggy. This is another super informative article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2018:

Hi Robert,

It truly was a wonderful vacation. We loved what we got to see in the State of Washington as well as our time spent in Canada. This San Juan Island tour and stopping off at Friday Harbor was just one of the fun filled and educational days spent on that vacation.

Robert Sacchi on March 27, 2018:

Another great article about one of the many tourist spots in the United States. That had to be a fantastic vacation you had in '89.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 14, 2017:

Hi Susie,

I agree with you that the lighthouse looks interesting and is probably worth a closer look. San Juan is definitely a great place to spend some time. Wish we had been able to spend more time there.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on February 13, 2017:

What really caught my eye in the photos is the lighthouse on the point. I would be drawn to go see that up close. Thank you for another informative tour, Peggy. San Juan Island looks like a lovely tourist attraction location.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2012:

Hi AliciaC,

Now I can envision where you live having been very close to it on the U.S. side of the border when we spent the night at The Inn at Semiahmoo. You live so close to the San Juan Islands and such a beautiful part of the world. When you go to Friday Harbor, I hope you can spend a bit more time there. Thanks for your comment, 5 star rating and the share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2012:

Hi Kris Heeter,

I can well imagine that doing marine biology research from Friday Harbor and other places on the Island of San Juan would be most interesting. Hope that you get to go there someday and see it for yourself. So happy to hear that you enjoyed this hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2012:

Hello dwachira,

We merely started our vacation trip in Seattle. The focus of this day was our San Juan Island cruise and tour of San Juan Island. Spending the night at the Inn at Semiahmoo was also a plus.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 16, 2012:

Thank you for this lovely hub, Peggy. I work very near the city of White Rock, which you've shown in your first map. There's a border crossing there, as well as a trail called the Semiahmoo trail. I can see the San Juan Islands from White Rock but I've never been there. I want to visit them very much after reading your hub and looking at the photos and videos! I gave this hub a 5 star rating and will share it.

Kris Heeter from Indiana on August 16, 2012:

What a nice trip! I've always wanted to go to Friday Harbor - many of my colleagues in past years would go there to do marine biology research and I would hear great stories from them.

Thanks for sharing your photos and all the information!

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on August 16, 2012:

It seems you had an enjoyable trip of Seattle, Washington. Great article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2012:

Hello Rusti Mccollum,

It is well worth the drive to get to the ferry which will take you to the San Juan Islands. My suggestion, if you have a bit more time, would be to spend a few days on the Island of San Juan. We only had the one day and could have enjoyed seeing much more. Hope you get to take this trip someday soon. BTW...we LOVED our vacation in Oregon. Such a beautiful state! Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2012:

Hi Mary,

It is too bad that you missed getting to tour the San Juan Islands while your daughter lived in Seattle. Did you get outside of Seattle and do any touring while visiting her or did you just see more of Seattle? We started our vacation trip in Seattle and ended it there, but our main focus was getting up to Canada where we spent most of our time. Great part of the country!!! Guess I should say countries. :) Thanks for your comment & the share.

Ruth McCollum from Lake Oswego, Oregon on August 16, 2012:

we live in Oregon the san Juan islands are a few hours drive to the ferry. My husband and I always talk about going there!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 16, 2012:

Oh, my, what a wonderful trip this must have been. As usual, you did a beautiful Hub: great photos and videos, too.

One of my daughter lived in Seattle for about a year, but we never made it to the San Juan islands. I'm sorry now I missed it.

I voted this Hub UP, etc.etc. and will share. Mary

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2011:

Hi Billy,

There is much more to see on San Juan Island than our one day tour enabled, but we certainly enjoyed what we did get to see. Friday Harbor is a beautiful and lively port city. Happy to hear that you liked those sunset pictures taken from the Semiahmoo Resort. The sunsets were beautiful over the water.

billyaustindillon on May 27, 2011:

San Juan island looks beautiful - back to nature in many ways wit those whales and love that short of the pylons in the sunset - nice.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2010:

Hello danatheteacher,

Glad that you enjoyed this depiction of our day spent vacationing and sightseeing on the Island of San Juan. What we saw of Friday Harbor and additional views of the Island would make us wish to return someday. Thanks for the comment.

Dana Rock from Pacific Northwest on September 04, 2010:

This is a really beautiful depiction!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2010:

Hello ss sneh,

Happy to hear that you liked seeing this portion of our San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor trip taken many years ago. It is very scenic and we had a great time. Thanks for your comment.

ss sneh from the Incredible India! on July 02, 2010:

Hi! Beautiful hub! Useful info! Thanks for this Great holiday trip! -- Thanks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 21, 2010:

Hello Lee B,

Glad you enjoyed this hub about the San Juan Islands, and specifically Friday Harbor and the Semiahmoo Resort. If it gives you ideas on how to organize your much the better. Thanks for that compliment!

Lee A Barton from New Mexico on January 20, 2010:

Really enjoyed your video and photos. Sure would like to do some similar things on my hub. The music you chose really captures "that feeling" I get when I'm cruising--even though we're motoring not sailing. Always had a soft spot for sailing though.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 14, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

Yes, the San Juan Islands are beautiful to see from aboard ship and we especially enjoyed getting off at Friday Harbor and getting to see some of that island from being on land. It truly was a great day trip! Thanks for the comment.

loveroflife on September 14, 2009:

Beautiful pictures of the San Juan Islands. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2009:

Hi RedElf,

We so enjoyed our stay at the Inn at Semiahmoo and our San Juan Island cruise that when I was going through some old photo albums I thought that it would provide good subject matter for a hub. So glad it brought back good memories for you. I would also like to go back and visit that area again some day. Thanks for the comment.

RedElf from Canada on July 18, 2009:

Oh, Peggy. Such a breath of home. My grandparents lived in the Vancouver area and then White Rock for many years, just across the Straits from here. Your pictures are gorgeous, and your writing makes me want to pull up stakes and head back to the coast. Thanks so much for this lovely hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2009:

Hi kiran,

Thanks! Very nice of you to be following my hubs so closely. You also do a good job on yours.

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on May 15, 2009:

Another great eye catching hub, you make them so attractive :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2009:

Hi wittywriter,

Thanks for the compliment and comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2009:

Hi Pete,

I must have been asleep in history class that day, but our trip there brought history alive. Thanks for the comment.

wittywriter from Concord New Hampshire on May 15, 2009:

It looks beautiful. Great hub.

Pete Maida on May 15, 2009:

It sounds like a fun vacation. I remember the 44/40 or Fight from high school history. Your hubs are always so well layed out.

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