San Juan Island on a Budget - 10 Tips to Save Big on Your Island Getaway

Updated May 2017

Are you longing for an island getaway without the expense? Traditionally, island vacations aren't cheap---everything needs to be shipped, flown or barged over. Wages, taxes, utilities, especially fresh water, are a lot more expensive than on the mainland, so are groceries, hotel rooms and adventures. Don’t let that keep you from a visit to paradise. The pristine beauty, clean air and amazing wildlife are priceless and we've got some great ways to help cut costs, starting with:

1.         Come in the Off Season

San Juan Island’s short Summer Season is from Memorial Day through Labor Day. That doesn't mean you won’t see the sun other times though. Unlike most of the Pacific Northwest, we see the sun an average of 250 days per year, thanks to the rain shadow created by the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island. Keep your eyes on our specials and come on up when the drizzle gets you down on the mainland.

2.         Carpool

How about a girlfriend getaway or a fun trip with another couple? Cut the ferry and gas fare in half and double your fun, while doing something nice for the environment.

3.         Take a Hike

San Juan Island is home to two National Parks, a County Park and a State Park. Hike along steep cliffs, through Madrona forests, and along endless drift wood beaches. Encounter orcas, otters, foxes, eagles, owls & bunnies, learn about the island’s history and tour abandoned lighthouses, all for free.

4.         Take a Bike

Check out a (free for our guests) beach cruiser bike from the front desk at the Earthbox Inn & Spa and ride to the closest beach for a picnic or to the San Juan Vineyard for a wine tasting. 

5.         Free Art

Stroll through Friday Harbor’s many galleries and get inspired. Arctic Raven Gallery features arctic and Northwest Coast Native work. Waterworks Gallery shows contemporary, local artwork, jewelry and sculpture. Island Studios displays arts and crafts, music, textiles, woodwork and more from island artists.

6.         Pack a Lunch

Get a freshly baked, still warm, crusty bread at San Juan Bakery, some local smoked salmon, island made goat cheese, and some fixins from the San Juan Food Coop next door. Don’t forget a bottle of San Juan Vineyard wine or Westcott Bay Apple Cider and you are set for several beach picnics with views better than at any restaurant.

7.         Take a Swim

After a long day playing outside, put on the cuddly bathrobe from your room and enjoy the only indoor hotel pool-house on San Juan Island. We have a pool, hot tub, dry sauna and an exercise room, to warm you up and get you to work up an appetite.

8.         Happy Hour Dinner

Most restaurants on San Juan Island serve fresh, seasonal, locally sourced, food and often have amazing happy hour specials. COHO Restaurant  for example runs an early evening Chef's Special of island grown Pacific fare with a Mediterranean flair. The Cask & Schooner Public House & Restaurant has a late happy hour, offering local beef & lamb burgers on San Juan Bakery bread or hand battered Cod fish & chips to hungry night owls.

9.         Dance like nobody is watching

On most weekend evenings the Herb's Tavern has live music. Herb's is Friday Harbor's oldest tavern and is just a short walk back to the Earthbox Inn & Spa.

10.      Know what’s going on

Whether it’s a free movie at the library, a talk at the UW Labs about, a historic walk through downtown or the annual Orca Sing at the whale watch park, San Juan Island offers tons of unique, free events. Check out the event calendar before your trip or ask at the front desk what to do. We are here for you!