Pristine nature, amazing wildlife, rich culture and outdoor adventure are not the only reasons to visit San Juan Island. The isle is also home to countless farms, producing anything from fruits and veggies, meats and cheeses, eggs, wine, lavender, salt, honey, wool, cider and more. Driving around, you will pass many farm-stands bowing under fresh flowers, eggs, colorful produce, and local meats and cheeses. We picked three favorite places to visit, which are truly unique, great fun to spend time at, where you will learn new things and bring home truly distinct souvenirs.
Westcott Bay Seafood Farm
The 35-year-old Westcott Bay Shellfish Company in the north of San Juan Island, once served their tasty bivalves all over the country. Over the years, the farm declined and was eventually put up for sale as a home site.
Erik and Andrea, who have deep roots in the San Juans and always loved visiting the farm, bought the run-down place four years ago and have worked very hard since to make it a working farm and tourist destination again. The couple has rebuilt the dock, added a lovely new building, including a storefront and picnic tables.
The couple started planting fresh beds of Manila Clams, Mediterranean Mussels and Pacific Oysters right away. Manila clams take three years to grow. 2016 was their first year of harvesting them. Pacific Oysters grow to size in just 18 months. The farm crew is tumbling them, with the help of a spanking new crane. It makes the oysters grow deep and plump as opposed to long and flat. Westcott Bay’s strong current makes shellfish grown here fresh and tasty. The farm is currently growing two million clams and one million oysters.
The Farm sells local beer and wine, crusty bread, salads and cheeses and Charcuterie. On comfy tables by the water, you can picnic and shuck your own oysters. Shucking knives, a quick tutorial & hot sauces are provided. Bring a cooler when buying shellfish to-go. There is ice for sale.
Visitors are welcome from Memorial Day through Labor Day, so the beds can rest during the slow growing Winter months.
San Juan Island Distillery
Just a mile southwest of Roche Harbor, on the shores of beautiful Westcott Bay, you’ll find apple orchards dating back to 1870, from a time when San Juan Island was the proverbial fruit basket of the Puget Sound. Tucked in this nook is a lovely little gem: Westcott Bay Cider replanted in 1990, growing vintage apples with lovely names like Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill and Sweet Coppin. Those are not apples for eating, those are strictly for drinking!
The shiny, hand-hammered Adolf Adrian still at San Juan Distillery
Cider making is the art of blending apples with different astringency & spiciness. Westcott Bay Cider has very successfully done just that and delighted the world with their award-winning Traditional Very Dry, Traditional Dry & Traditional Medium Sweet Cider since 1999. In 2010 they added a few partners, got a new license and a very shiny copper Adolf Adrian pot still, hand-hammered in Germany. Just seeing the beautiful still warrants a trip to San Juan Distillery, which is open for tastings (the other great reason to visit) every Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 pm, between Memorial Day & Labor Day.
The very first release of the distillery’s Apple Brandy in 2014, won Gold and Best in Class at the American Craft Spirit Association, making it the best-rated Apple Brandy in the nation. They have since added Gin, Vodka, Pommeau, Eau de Vie and Liqueur to their astounding resume, with an emphasis on blending unique, seasonal, local flavors and their apple-based spirits. Micro-batch, limited quantity spirits make it possible to experiment, play with and refine flavors. Among the seasonals available are Salal, Salish Juniper, Elderberry or Nettle Spy Hop Gin, Blackberry or Madrone flavored Brandy and Lavender & Wild Rose Liqueur.
San Juan Distillery’s spirits are rarely distributed outside of San Juan and are absolutely worth the trip to the island.
Pelindaba Lavender Farm
We at the Earthbox In & Spa source all the body care products for our guest rooms from the local Pelindaba Lavender Farm. They smell and feel amazing. We use bulk containers to dispense them, cutting down on unnecessary packaging and waste. But that’s not all there is to know about this lovely farm and its purple crop. Read on to learn some fun facts about the farm and the history and uses of this amazing plant.