Maps to the Tower House, the San Juan Islands and to Washington
The pages below are information pages, etc.:
What's It Like on San Juan Island
On an island, the weather can change quickly and it is never reliably predictable (but is anywhere?). I've been here in winter when it snowed for a week (one day a year is more common). We've also had winters that were like fall all winter. It may not rain hardly at all in spring as in 95 when the island was lookiing quite brown by June, then it rained quite a bit in August, even though it rarely rains at all in August.
Overall, weather in the San Juans is milder with about twice as many sunny days and about half as much rain as Seattle area. This is because the San Juan Islands are part of a rain shadow that also includes part of Whidbey Island and the area around Sequim and Port Townsend on the mainland. Daytime temperatures in the 70's are common in summer and 40's in winter. Plan for a range of temperatures, but nothing very severe. I was reminded of that line by our guests that got snowed in Dec. of 96. For a current forecast that's as easy to read as a TV forecast try Weather.com. For a five day forecast, try AccuWeather.
My favorite month is May. Tourism is light, the wildflowers are out, the weather is pleasant, the island is green and late May, early June is usually the most active time of year for Orca whales. The typical season for Orcas is from April through July. But like weather, typical is not the same as always and never. Be sure and check out the Orca picture on my "Pictures around the Island" page.
The Orcas travel along the West side of San Juan Island so often during late May and early June you can usually encounter them even on a kayak trip. Because of our protected calm waters, kayaks are an especially pleasureable way to experience the islands. If the Orca whales do decide to come close, you'll find yourself looking up at them from a kayak, instead of down on them from shore or a regular boat. The change of perspective is impressive to put it mildly. Picture yourself at water level when a six foot dorsal fin comes out of the water, then a whale that dwarfs your kayak. The whale aims at the center of your kayak, then goes under it. I can tell you from experience it is a "heart stopper"; but the whale never even rocked my boat and as far as I know, they never do. Try one of the following kayak expedition groups:DiscoveryNational Geographic Adventure Magazine 2008 and 2009 Best Outfitter and Travel Company On Earth. Specializing in small groups and may even pick you up at Tower House. Personally, I love their sunset trips without all the whale watch and other boats all around. In business for close to 20 years, Outdoor Odysseys offers quality, hand crafted 1, 3 and 5 day tours in the premier Orca whale habitats off the west side of San Juan Island.
Sea Quest, the most experienced group and very educational; Crystal Seas tries to keep groups small and now have the kayak slips that make it easy to get in and out without getting wet. Learn more about the whales at the Whale Museum. If kayaks sound a little too exciting, try out a whale watching cruise:
Western Prince has great naturalists and give a lot back to the local ecology and animal groups.
Carli Charters takes up to six passengers on a 2006 C-Dory 25 leaving from the main dock J-4 in Friday Harbor. (888) 221-1331 or (360) 378-0302.
San Juan Safaris: San Juan Safaris offers naturalist guided whale watching tour from the Spring Street pier in Friday Harbor. The Sea Lion is the newest boat in the fleet carrying no more than 42 passengers. She is 55 ft long with a heated interior cabin and walk around deck offering both covered and uncovered seating. She is comfortable and very fast.
San Juan Excursions has a large comfortable boat. Great for families, large groups and will even give you a free pass for another day if you don't see whales.
Maya's Whale Watch also launches from Snug Harbor. If a big crowded boat lacks appeal, this tour boat only takes a maximum of 6 people.
For bird watchers, March, April & May are active months for building nests. As we sit by the large bay window of our kitchen, we watch the eagles swooping down to gather building materials, often causing the ducks to take flight from the pond. Need a check list for bird watching or finding other critters? Try the Wildlife Discovery Guide & Map from Archipelago Press