One of the beauties of San Juan Island is its abundance of public shoreline. Indulge in the freedom of water-side trails, watch for whales from one of many public coastal view points, or stop for lunch on a pebbled beach.
The Westside of San Juan Island is popular for newcomers and locals alike. It is on the Westside that you get the finest views of Vancouver Island, the Olympic Peninsula, and the Orca whales that feed in local waters. Large tracts of preserved coastal land along Westside Road have great access for you to enjoy the view and walk the cliffs above the shoreline. Ask the Earthbox Inn & Spa staff for exact directions, or take a scenic Westside drive and watch out for look-outs along the coast to pull over.
San Juan Island does beaches well. Whether you want big and exposed or small and sheltered, there is something for everyone. Got a kite? Why not head to South Beach. At two miles long, with a view of the Olympic Mountains, South Beach is a playground of sand, pebbles and drift wood. Pack lunches can be eaten at the many picnic tables and there are plenty of easy hikes to be found at neighboring American Camp.
Further around the coast is the less visited but equally rewarding Fourth of July Beach. This stretch of sand is a little more off the beaten path and offers a great view of Mt. Baker.
If small and sheltered is your style then Deadman Bay is a must-see. A gem of the coastline, the cove is dotted with Madrona trees, rock pools, and sheltered by the cliffs of the island's Westside. With ample shady spots to spread out a blanket, it seems to be designed for those who want to relax and watch nature drift by. Watch out for the Orca whales as they cruise the Haro Strait. Visit at low-tide and view tide pools full of small sea creatures on the rocks immediately west of Deadman Bay.
It is not only the island beaches that provide the opportunity to explore the coastline. Lime Kiln State Park offers an array of leafy hikes that take you past rock formations, the historic coastal lime kilns, and the park's lighthouse. Once there, you don't need a vehicle to head south along the Westside. Leave your car at Lime Kiln Sate Park and pick up the easy trail that winds its way along the coast to Deadman Bay, a perfect place to rest and enjoy the view. Lime Kiln is also known as the Whale-Watch Park. Find a picnic table, relax, and if you're lucky and patient, you may even see Orcas and other whale species feeding in the surrounding waters.