On the return trip to the Orcas Ferry Terminal, I took an alternate route via Crow Valley Road which was much quieter than the main island route, Orcas Road. It took me by the nautical village of West Sound, home to a nice marina and the Orcas Island Yacht Club.
When I arrived at the terminal to catch my 10:40AM ferry, it was already crowded with cars in line, walk-ons, bikers, and a group kids, presumably from a camping trip. The trip over to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island was only 40 minutes. It is the second largest island in the San Juan chain and the most populous.
I rode to the Wayfarer's Rest Hostel, where I spent the night. After picking a bunk in the dormitory, it was time to find a good cafe. I went to one the cleaning lady of the hostel recommended, the Bean Cafe on First street. It turned to be a good one with fast Wi-Fi. The plan was to do some sightseeing in Friday Harbor and to find a laundry for washing very sweaty riding wear. Sunshine Laundry on Nichols Street was just three blocks from the hostel. Tomorrow, I will ride around the periphery of San Juan Island.
I got up early on July 30 to prepare for the circle of San Juan Island in a counterclockwise direction. The route to Roche Harbor was on a good cycling road, Roche Harbor Road, with moderate to small shoulder and light traffic. About four miles out of Friday Harbor, passed by the San Juan Winery (open from 11AM to 5PM). Slightly further, I stopped to check out the Lakedale Resort which offers family oriented camping with options for tent sites, glamping, log cabins and lodge accommodations. There is even a retro Airstream available to rent. The facility is surrounded by Fish Hook Lake. Hiker-biker tent sites are $37 per night.
Roche Harbor on the Northwest side of the island was my next stop. The harbor is a hub of tourist activity. The marina harbor provides one of the better protected anchorages in the islands. The harbor is surrounded on the east side by San Juan Island, on the north side by Pearl Island, and on the west and south sides by Henry Island. Most of the harbor is 35 to 45 feet deep. Roche Harbor has a small airport used primarily by local residents. Roche Harbor was named in honor of Richard Roche, who served under British Captain Henry Kellett in 1846 and Captain James Charles Prevost in 1857–60.
The resort was formerly a company town surrounding the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Company, which was incorporated in 1886. Lime production was a major industry and revenue source for a corporation run by John S. McMillin, whose ashes are buried in a large mausoleum nearby.
The focal point of the resort is the historic Hotel de Haro. The hotel is the landmark lodging venue for visitors. Hotel de Haro was built in 1887 as lodging for McMillin’s customers, while they visited Roche Harbor to negotiate lime purchases. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt, a friend of McMillin, visited Roche Harbor and stayed in room 2A, now known as the Presidential Suite. The hotel has undergone renovations in recent years and remains a favorite accommodation option for village visitors.
Watch the boats come and go in the harbor while enjoying family-friendly fare at the Lime Kiln Café. The café serves breakfast and lunch year round, as well as dinner during the busy summer months. You’ll find a variety of meal options at the café, including famous Roche Harbor Donuts, cheeseburgers, fish and chips and more. It is the go-to place for breakfast. Rated 4 out of 5 by Yelp reviewers. Free Wi-Fi is available in the harbor area.
Leaving Roche Harbor, some may want to stop at the Sculpture Park. Eventually, I made my way to West Valley Road and West Side Road. The West side of the Island is much hillier. I diverted off the planned route to visit Snug Harbor Resort, a complex of cabins and lodge in a very quaint marine setting with a small marina. Boaters beware -- deep keel boats will have trouble navigating to this shallow bay.
On the way to Lime Kiln State Park, I checked out the only public camping area on the island managed by the county. San Juan County Park was a pleasant surprise ... nice tent sites on the bluff overlooking the ocean. Hiker-biker tent sites are $10 per night. No showers at this camp. Orcas whale watching from this location is a bonus.
Lime Kiln Point State Park is popular among the locals for sighting Orca killer whales. These majestic animals hang out and pass by this area. This 36-acre Washington state park is considered one of the best places in the world to view wild orcas from a land-based facility. Due to the unique properties of the site, visitors on the shore can be within 20 feet of whales jumping out of the water (breaching). The park was the site of lime kilns beginning in 1860, and one kiln has been restored as a public exhibit. On the day I visited, the whales were sighted at another locale by the island.
The 35-mile ride wrapped up the day as I returned to the hostel at 5PM. and I had to get ready for the next day's ferry to Sidney, Vanvouver Island and the start of exploration of the lower Gulf Islands by bike.