Camping at San Juan County Campground was one of my all-time favorite camping experiences! First of all - San Juan Island, WA, is gorgeous! We took an early ferry from Anacortes, WA, to Friday Harbor. Downtown Friday Harbor is very charming with lots of restaurants, art, and shops, so we spent a couple hours in the morning meandering downtown. Before heading to the campground, we got some sandwiches in Friday Harbor, and took them with a bottle of wine to Limekiln Point State Park to see if we could spot any resident orca whales passing by. And we DID!!! According to the researchers at the Whale Museum (located in the lighthouse at Limekiln Point SP), the orcas that we saw were the first resident orcas spotted that season!
The drive around San Juan Island is beautiful, and we were not disappointed when we saw the campground! While I usually prefer to camp in densely wooded areas, the more open layout of SJC campground was great because of the stellar ocean views! The campground is essentially on a cliff overlooking the ocean, and while each site has its own picnic table, we rarely sat at it - we would walk our meals out to the picnic tables on the meadow/lawn overlooking the Salish Sea and the distant Canadian shores across the Haro Strait.
After checking in and setting up camp, we were able to see the orca whales for the second time that day! When we saw them around noon, they were traveling northwest up the coast, so when we saw them later that night from the campground, they were returning down the coast, southeast. Seeing the orcas up close that morning and from our campground around sunset was the highlight of that road trip, and we saw a lot of cool stuff in the miles between Santa Barbara, CA, to Vancouver Island, BC, and back.
There are a lot of neat things to see and do on San Juan Island. We enjoyed visiting Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm and the San Juan Vineyards - some of their white varietals are grown right there on the island! The Whale Museum is a must see for anyone interested in sea life and the local orca populations. We did not go whale watching nor did we go on the kayak whale watching trip that we had hoped to do, but that’s all the more reason to visit the island again! And I will definitely camp at San Juan Country Campgrounds again, it was a magical little campground.
Oh - because it is tiny, and because SJC Campground is the only public campground, you have to reserve a site months and months in advance, because they do fill up quickly in the peak seasons!
I cannot say enough good things about our visit to San Juan Island and our stay at SJC Campground….I look forward to the next time we can make it back!!!
P.S. Go visit Mona the camel (yes, a real camel!) and learn her story from the folks over at the San Juan Vineyards - she even has her own wine labels!!!
Plumbed Toilets: Yes
Picnic Table: Yes
Cooking Grate: Yes
Cell Service: Limited
Animal Bins: No
We wanted to to kayaking in the San Juans and this was definitely a great way to go for our overnight stay. Just be sure to book early. Facilities were well maintained and it was a great site.