San Juan Island: Orcas, Alpacas, and Lavender!

Last month we were lucky enough to take a second trip up to Seattle. And this time, we added a trip up to the San Juan Islands–a cluster of beautiful islands about an hour ferry ride off the coast of Washington and close to Victoria, British Columbia.

We drove up north from Seattle for about an hour and a half to the Anacortes ferry terminal. You can make a reservation to bring your car on board, which is what we did. That made it pretty easy to get around the island. It took about an hour to reach Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the most commercial of the San Juans.

There is endless beauty on this island! My favorite spot by far was Lime Kiln State Park on the southwestern edge of the island. Orcas are frequently spotted here (though we didn’t spot any from there)!

Lighthouse at Lime Kiln
Lighthouse at Lime Kiln
Slightly outside of Lime Kiln, but a beautiful spot on the coast
Slightly outside of Lime Kiln, but a beautiful spot on the coast

Although we didn’t see any orcas from Lime Kiln, we did a 3 hour long whale watching tour and spotted several members of the J-pod, one of the resident orca ponds in the area! They were absolutely incredible, breaching the surface quite often and putting on a show for whale watchers all around. The guides on the tour were able to identify many of the orcas we saw, including J-2 Granny and little J-49 T’ilem Inges. Granny is the oldest known living orca (estimated to be about 105 years old!) and T’ilem Inges is a young one, about 4 years old.

The orcas travel together in their extended families (called pods), and hunt for salmon. Very sadly, the salmon supply is at extremely low levels due to dam construction and the southern resident orcas are endangered as a result. The whale museum in Friday Harbor has a whale adoption program to help support orca research. We very happily adopted little T’ilem Inges and now receive monthly updates about the southern resident orcas ๐Ÿ™‚

Another highlight of the trip was visiting the beautiful Pelindaba Lavender Farm. Rows and rows of lavender make for amazing photo ops:

Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Friday Harbor
Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Friday Harbor
Matt in the lavender fields
Matt in the lavender fields
Me in the lavender fields
Me in the lavender fields

Pelindaba also has a gift shop with endless lavender goodies: tea, soaps, lotions, essential oils, cleaning products, you name it! Definitely worth checking out.

A surprise fun trip on the island was the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. I didn’t even know it was there until we happened to drive by it!

Matt Crystal Acres Alpaca Farm
Matt at Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm

Apart from watching the alpacas graze on the fields, the farm also had a nice gift shop with knitted goods and homespun yarn from the alpacas onsite! I of course had to get some to knit a few things ๐Ÿ™‚

Yarn from Crystal Acres
Yarn from Krystal Acres
Pleased with my purchases :)
Pleased with my purchases ๐Ÿ™‚

While wandering around the little Friday Harbor downtown, we stopped in the Griffin Bay bookstore, since we’re both suckers for bookstores. The store featured a collection of books and novels about the region, and I stumbled upon a gem called “Eliza Waite” by Ashley Sweeney. This novel takes place on Cypress Island (in the San Juans) during the Yukon Gold Rush. It has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time, telling the story of a young widow who has endured and overcome so much tragedy and has essentially been cut off from her family. I cannot recommend this book enough! I finished reading it in just a few days and have been raving about it to anyone who will listen ever since ๐Ÿ™‚ Another unexpected pleasant surprise from this lovely trip <3