San Juan Islands

*The cruise destination discussed in this blog post is no longer available for booking. We invite you to explore our current cruise offerings here. For assistance or questions, please contact our team at or 888-862-8881.


Travelers and explorers have long celebrated the Pacific Northwest as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The San Juan Islands are a stunning regional destination that offers visitors epic whale-watching experiences via picturesque hiking locations and San Juan Island boat tours, as well as biking, eating, and drinking that rivals more well-known American destinations.

Located off the coast of Washington State and bordering the Vancouver, Victoria, and British Columbia Islands, the San Juan Islands are a genuine natural wonder of the world. Whether you're looking for an incredible playground for outdoor activities or a relaxing atmosphere that encourages connections with nature, a cruise to the San Juan Islands from UnCruise Adventures is worth a look.

With over 172 named islands, San Juan Island cruises offer something for everyone in this sandbox for outdoor enthusiasts. The winding channels of the San Juan Islands are packed full of unforgettable moments just waiting to be discovered.

Which Island Should You Visit?

Each island in the San Juan Island archipelago has its own unique charm and personality. The most popular and well-traveled location features the enchanting Friday Harbor, adorned with charming restaurants, artisans, and stores.

San Juan

The second-largest island in size and by far the most populated, San Juan is beautiful and bustling. Travelers on San Juan Island cruises can choose from various activities, including food and wine tasting, whale watching tours, or simply taking in the remarkable Friday Harbor environment while browsing the local shops.

A cruise to the San Juan Islands features the populous San Juan and provides guests with the most available conveniences. In Friday Harbor, visitors can find plentiful accommodations, restaurants, and virtually everything they might need right near the ferry landing.

If you're traveling on foot, you can easily stroll the entire island, discovering unique additions along the way, including alpaca farms, wineries, parks, beaches, farms, lighthouses, and eateries.

A San Juan Islands small ship cruise from UnCruise Adventures also offers the opportunities to whale watch and experience the coastline, including some of the most stunning panoramic views you'll find anywhere in the United States.

Orcas Island

Orcas Island is the largest island in the San Juan archipelago. Although quiet and less populated than San Juan, Orcas provides numerous island activities like kayaking, biking, fishing, sailing, and local artwork.

Orcas Island also features the tallest peak on the archipelago, drawing many hikers and climbers to the region. Visitors can drive to the top for incredible lookouts and observe the splendor of the islands and the surrounding mountain peaks from the highest traversable point.

Featuring a slower, more laid-back pace than its small sibling, Orcas Island is the perfect destination for hiking, camping, or cycling across a unique and diverse landscape.

Shaw Island

Shaw Island is the least developed of the primary San Juan archipelago islands, without even a gas station present in the area. Shaw is a quiet, residential island with a few part-time residents.

Guests visiting Shaw Island will also find the Shaw Island Historical Museum, an opportunity for a unique education about the island, and the Franciscan Nuns who tend to the land and run the local general store.

This location is ideal for overnight camping and connecting with an elegant, beautiful, and peaceful environment.

What's the Best Time to Visit the San Juan Archipelago

Nestled within the Puget Sound between Northwest Washington and Canada's Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands' climate remains relatively mild all year. The temperature rarely reaches above the mid-70s or below the 40s. San Juan Island boat tours also experience less rain than Seattle due to the archipelago's location in the Olympic Mountains' rain shadow.

Although there's rarely a poor time to visit the San Juan Islands, the best time to visit for dry, sunny, and warm weather perfect for exploring the outdoors is between May and September.

During this season, most San Juan businesses will remain open, and the conditions are perfect for embracing the best outdoor activities, from kayaking to cycling. Unfortunately for some visitors, this is also the season when the islands are most busy.

Tips for Visiting the San Juan Island Archipelago

Visitors may not think of bending or breaking the rules as a sign of disrespect when visiting another area. However, the San Juan Island archipelago receives approximately one million visitors yearly, and leaving a small amount of trash behind while on a San Juan Islands small ship cruise can significantly add up.

It can also seem strange to visitors to think about eco-conservation while surrounded by water on San Juan Island cruises. While the islands reside in the Salish Sea, fresh and drinkable water remains a precious resource in the San Juans. 

The months of May through October offer little-to-no rainfall, and the San Juan Islands' rain source doesn't replenish during the summer. Visitors must take care to preserve the amount of water they use and are encouraged to shorten showers and excessive water consumption.

Travelers should maintain a considerate attitude when traversing the San Juan Islands. Island road shoulders in this region range between narrow and nonexistent, with many blind curves. Sharing the road is imperative for travelers, San Juan Island residents, and guests.

Finally, one of the charms of the San Juan Islands is the slow, relaxed pace. Nevertheless, the villages and towns in San Juan County are active, functional communities with traffic, crosswalks, and laws. The islands have no traffic lights, but the laws, rules of the roads, and standard etiquette still apply.

Visit the San Juan Island Archipelago

With a plethora of things to do while on San Juan Island cruises, the region is a spectacular location for a vacation all year round. By planning a vacation to this area with UnCruise Adventures, you can uncover more natural beauty than you've ever imagined and catch glimpses of wildlife in abundance, all while enjoying an exciting outdoor excursion.

UnCruise Adventures proudly serves our guests by providing an avenue for cultural enrichment while instilling an appreciation for nature and cultures worldwide. Our ships carry anywhere from 22 to 86 passengers, carrying guests to various destinations, including the San Juan Island archipelago. We also offer cruises to other exciting destinations, such as Alaska, Costa Rica, and more.

To learn more about San Juan Island cruises and how our team can make your next vacation memorable, contact UnCruise Adventures today for additional information!