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Why People Love Living in the San Juan Islands

Whether you’re scouting out San Juan Islands real estate or researching vacation spots in the Pacific Northwest, you may be keen to know why, exactly, the residents of Washington’s fabled archipelago seem like such a delighted bunch. Is it the phenomenal views they enjoy daily? The extraordinary sense of togetherness the community boasts? Or is it just the joy of living near the water?

It’s all of these things — and more. Read on for Mike Konopik’s review of the qualities the chain has and why it continues to elate its fortunate group of residents.

Splendid outdoor adventures

The Pacific Northwest is globally renowned as an outdoor enthusiast’s haven. The San Juan Islands don’t just contribute to this glowing reputation; they personify it. Nearly every outdoor thrill available under the sun is available on this archipelago. Kayaking, hiking, golfing, running, sailing, fishing, birdwatching, camping, and even surfing are frequently enjoyed by its residents. All of these sports, and more, are made all the more pleasurable by the spectacular backdrop that rests behind it all.

The San Juan Islands’ superb location

There are few places in the world where an archipelago – and in this case, 172 small islands – are just offshore of one of the planet’s most exhilarating cities. The San Juan Islands rest a mere 60 miles north of Seattle, meaning phenomenal cuisine and the Emerald City’s greatest attractions are a relatively short commute away. Whether you want to spend a day in Seattle shopping for luxury fashions in Pioneer Square or have a craving to watch the Seahawks play, the city’s proximity is only a ferry ride away.

And yet, Seattle isn’t the only hotspot nearby. The San Juan Islands are also a boat ride away from Sidney, British Columbia, and Washington’s Anacortes, a lively coastal enclave that’s always a joy to visit.

There are a small handful of ways to get to the San Juan Islands, but two of the most convenient are aboard the Victoria Clipper out of Seattle or by taking your car on the Washington State ferry from Anacortes.

Topnotch whale watching

There’s something both surreal and serene about being able to watch whales at play. This is precisely what you will find on the shores of the San Juan Islands. Orcas glide through the waters, a pod of approximately 80 whales  that are affectionately known as the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Bask in the sight of them, and you’ll be reminded of the grandeur of the natural world

The opportunity to island hop

San Juan Island is the biggest and most populous island in the chain. This is where you'll discover the picturesque charms of Friday Harbor and its slew of darling boutiques and cozy restaurants (to say nothing of its stunning, historic lighthouse).

But regardless of which major island you choose, bear in mind that island hopping is a huge pastime for its residents. You might spend a Saturday exploring Orcas Island one weekend, then Lopez Island the next, then take a romantic “staycation” trip for two at the Willows Inn on the ever-entrancing Lummi Island the next. This staves off monotony — but rest assured that with the San Juan Islands’ incredible activities and beautiful landmarks, boredom will drop from your vocabulary.

A warm, tight-knit personality

Visitors feel welcome the moment they step foot in the San Juan Islands. Now magnify this by a hundred, and you’ll have a sense of the hospitality with which locals greet each other. Given the intimate size of these islands’ populations, it ought to come as no surprise that residents know each other by name and are always willing — if not happy to — offer a helping hand. This friendliness is one of the greatest gifts of calling these exquisite islands home.

Outstanding dining options

The Pacific Northwest as a whole has effortless access to incredibly fresh seafood and a bounty of organic, delicious produce. The San Juan Islands exemplifies this and offers its residents and visitors dozens of fantastic restaurants, each offering its own bespoke experience.

Duck Soup in Friday Harbor is a favorite for those who live here and for the many Seattleites who escape to the islands when free time opens. Their outdoor patio, complete with a fire pit, is part of its magic, but it’s the first-rate service and superb fare that will have you coming back for more. Wescott Bay oysters with yuzu mignonette and wasabi tobiko, grilled halibut served with smoked pea puree, and fresh banana pie with pistachio tuile are just three of the options you’ll find on their heavenly menu.

The Restaurant at Friday Harbor also enchants with its array of dishes inspired by locally sourced (and caught) ingredients like crab dip with charred corn and cream cheese, vegetable-poblano soup, and wild Alaskan halibut crowned with King mushrooms and radicchio.

You’ll find equally fabulous cuisine at Orcas Isand’s The Madrona Bar & Grill. Glorious views of the water spool out from its windows, while traditional dishes, like beer-battered Alaskan cod and hamburgers topped with Tillamook cheddar, are served in its inviting setting.

A calm, nature-focused life

Above all, living in the San Juan Islands fosters a quieter, more tranquil lifestyle — one that is deeply attuned to the tempo of nature, in harmony with the seasons, and centered not around the go-go-go ethos that defines so many metropolises but around enjoying the splendors of the planet. You can feel this serenity in the very air, which ultimately results in a fulfilling and lovely way of life.

Intrigued by the thought of living in the San Juan Islands? Mike Konopik would be more than happy to hear from you. He comes from a long line of Pacific Northwest agents and possesses an uncanny understanding of the San Juan Islands real estate market. Schedule an appointment with him today to join the small but self-described “spoiled” group of island residents who love living in this enchanted archipelago.

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