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Beaches to Explore on the San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands make up a popular archipelago in the Pacific Northwest. Home to breathtaking estates, famous mountains, and fun seaside living, residents and tourists alike love the San Juan area for its natural beauty. Spend the day whale watching on the islands or on the water, hike through the forests, and enjoy fresh seafood at the many fine dining and beloved restaurants dotting the archipelago. As you shop for your San Juan dream home, make time to explore the beaches along San Juan's iconic coastline. You may just find your next address a short drive away from a protected cove or near a big open bay that lets you see whales from your windows. Start your adventure by spending the day at these six must-see beaches.

1. Enjoy a fun day at the beach at Jackson Beach, San Juan's popular pebbled beach

On the eastern side of San Juan Island, you'll find Little Island, a beautiful, secluded peninsula connected to the mainland only by a thin stretch of road. Here, you'll find breathtaking beaches, crisp clear water, and rugged driftwood up and down the beaches. Dip your toes into North Bay or explore the beaches closer to Argyle Lagoon between Little Island and San Juan Island. Along with trails and beaches for a pleasant walk, you can set off from the Jackson Beach boat launch and sail across the bay or soak up the sun. Jackson Beach also has convenient parking, volleyball courts, and picnic sites for a full day of fun.

2. Visit 4th of July Beach any time of year

San Juan Island's 4th of July Beach may make you think of fireworks and festivities, but this beautiful beach is open throughout the seasons for visitors looking for a peaceful beach outing away from the more crowded shores at other beaches. First, start your visit with a bit of an adventure: the beach itself is accessible through a forested trail, so you can hike and explore the woods before arriving at this sandy stretch of land. Enjoy some historical landmarks and features from the original San Juan Village, the iconic Jakle's Lagoon (which has strong currents that make it too risky to swim), and views across the water of Lopez Island. 4th of July Beach is just north of South Beach, so there are plenty of recreational areas to visit for a day — or week! — of fun camping, hiking, or relaxing.

3. Add some history to your day out at South Beach

Explore more than nature at the American Camp - San Juan Island National Historic Park. This natural park and historical site stretches across the southern tip of San Juan Island. You can learn about the disputed boundary that led to the joint occupation of the territory by British and American powers across the middle of the 1800s. Pacific Northwest sailors knew there were two channels around San Juan Island, but the Oregon Treaty of 1846 identified the boundary only as the 49th parallel. Different accounts of regional knowledge made the boundary unclear. Today, visitors on the American San Juan coast can see the shores of Victoria in Canada.

While there are plenty of woodsy trails and historical landmarks to explore throughout the park, the main attraction for beach lovers is South Beach itself. This beach is made for long walks, with beaches strewn with wave-smoothed pebbles, a gorgeous view of the Salish Sea, and views of the mountains in the distance across the water. Tourists and residents alike will love traipsing across the beach and surrounding landscapes. You can even enjoy a three-mile-long walk to Cattle Point Lighthouse at the very tip of the island. Collect driftwood, rocks, and new photos of the scenery.

4. Find a classic sandy beach at Granny's Cove

For a pleasant day out, drive to Granny's Cove. This beach is a pleasant little hideaway on the southern edge of American Camp. The small beach sits nestled in the cliffs, and visitors can relax on the sun-warmed sand. Even the water gets warmed by the sun in the summer, offering cool — but not too cool — shallows for children to play in or for people to walk in the water. The beach is just a half-mile walk along a marked trail from the parking lot.

The shallow waters are home to a wide array of marine life, including mussels, crabs, and anemones. In the distance, you might also spot orcas swimming through the deeper waters.

5. Spend the day at Deadman Bay in Lime Kiln Park

Deadman Bay is a semi-circular, protected little bay on the western side of the island. Enjoy a gravelly beach that's 1,000 feet long, the outlet of a seasonal stream, and easy access to surrounding park grounds like Lime Kiln Preserve and Lime Kiln Point State Park. The forest full of towering green trees comes right up to the pebbled coastline, offering a peaceful and shady little retreat. Kayakers can explore the bay, hikers can wander the woodlands and cliffs, and there are plenty of spots for a picturesque picnic. The whole area is 180 acres of public land dedicated to outdoor recreation.

6. Visit San Juan's sister islands and see Crescent Beach Preserve

Take the ferry off the main San Juan Island and see Orcas Island. Widely considered the gem of the archipelago, this natural paradise has it all: hiking, biking, kayaking, and more. There's something for everyone here. One of the most popular destinations on Orcas Island is Crescent Beach Preserve outside of Eastsound. Walk along the edge of the ocean, where you're sure to see lots of different birds and maybe even some deer. For a longer walk, follow the trail into the woodlands, which will take you through an orchard, a meadow, and a grove of madrona and pine trees. Crescent Beach Preserve is aptly named because you can enjoy the peaceful waters and serene sea life of this crescent-shaped cove.

Explore the San Juan Islands real estate market with Mike Konopik as your guide

As you familiarize yourself with the beaches and beautiful seaside features of the San Juan islands, start exploring homes for sale in the area. Mike Konopik is a local realtor and expert in San Juan Islands real estate. He can guide you through the market, provide insight into property values and market trends, and help you find your Pacific Northwest home. Reach out today to schedule a conversation with our friendly real estate team to get started.

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