The Best Time to Visit San Juan Islands (Hint: When We Go)


best time to visit san juan islands
Explorer Chicks on a sea kayaking adventure in San Juan Islands


Washington State: Home to the Seattle Mariners, Kurt Cobain, the Space Needle, and Pike Place Market. What makes Washington especially beautiful is the San Juan Islands. 

With Mount Baker serving as a comforting sight on the horizon, the San Juan Islands offer the temperate ruggedness a pacific northwest rain forest has to offer. The inlet contains the smaller Shaw Island, surrounded by three primary islands: Lopez Island, Orcas Island, and San Juan Island, the largest island of the three.

So let’s dig into some travel tips for the best time to visit this perfect place no matter whether there is sunny weather or you find yourself in the rain season.

Don’t worry, I’ll touch upon the ideal weather and temperatures to visit for kayaking, and whale watching since that’s our bread and butter. 🧈


Weather and Temperatures in the San Juan Islands

Forget Hawaii! June, July, August, and September, is the peak summer season for the San Juan Islands. When visiting the San Juan Islands, you can expect average temperatures to reach the high 60s, and low 70s in the summer months.

Plan a day trip visiting other islands less frequented by tourists. Arrive in the early morning or closer to nightfall to beat the mad rush of visitors for a prime island hopping experience—you may feel like you have the entire island to yourself!

In contrast, visitors are met with an average temperature in the high 30s, to mid 40s well into October and during the winter months. Temperatures can occasionally dip to below freezing. However, the forgiving nature and mild climate of western Washington offers fun things to do all year round. Catch spectacular views of the surrounding bay area, walk the shore line, or beach comb for treasures.


Month Avg High (F) Avg Low (F) Days of Precip.
January 46 36 14
February 48 37 11
March 51 37 11
April 56 41 8
May 62 45 6
June 64 49 7
July 68 50 5
August 67 50 4
September 66 49 6
October 59 45 11
November 52 40 13
December 48 39 16


best time to visit san juan islands
Explorer Chicks showing the San Juan Islands what our mamas gave us

Best Time to Visit San Juan Island and Friday Harbor

The Washington State Department of Transportation provides detailed timelines in two-month increments through to the end of the current sailing season. These schedules provide the best times to visit the Islands via the different ferries, depending upon days of the week and time of day.


Ferry Schedules by Time of Year

The summer months of June, July, August, and September, are a great time to plan your trip via the Washington state ferry from Anacortes. Reservations can be booked in advance.

Frequent sailings are available during weekdays for visitors looking to catch the ferry from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands in addition to routes from Friday Harbor. Westbound and eastbound routes throughout the week offer sailings nearly every hour, with increased departures in the morning and after work periods. Alternatively, leave the car at home by taking advantage of walk-on ferry rates calculated per person.


Peak Tourist Season on San Juan Islands

Expect beach weather, a picnic in the sunshine, and peak season for travelers during the summer months (June, July, August, and September). Trip times take longer due to overcrowded ferries of passengers looking to take advantage of the sunny weather. The peak tourist season also brings additional fares and surcharges applicable to each car load driving onto the ferry, in effect from May 1 to September 30.

Off season months are typically the best time to visit San Juan Island for a tourist-free adventure. While the Fall and Winter months might start to get a bit chilly, there are still plenty of activities to partake in.


best time to visit san juan islands

Ready to explore the San Juan Islands and get up to some SHE-nanigans?

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