San Juan Islands Lodging Checklist

hotel room

You will need to find quality lodging in the San Juan Islands in order to properly enjoy your vacation here. There are several nearby hotels, inns and rental properties to choose from. There is also the option to lease a space from a local on or a similar type website.

There are some requirements or standards for the lodging in order to ensure it doesn’t deter from your enjoyment of the San Juan Islands or your vacation with friends or family.

Here are some things to consider before reserving lodging at a hotel or property in the San Juan Islands:

  1. Location

Few things are more important when it comes to lodging and hotels than the location of the property itself. You don’t want to be too far from the tourist attractions and all of the best restaurants in Roche Harbor.

You can ruin a vacation if you need to use a taxi for every venture out of the hotel or if there is too much travel time in-between each destination and excursion you want to visit during your vacation on the San Juan Islands.

  1. Ratings & Reviews

Be sure the hotel you decide to stay at in the San Juan Islands has received several of good reviews from previous guests.

You should read as many reviews as possible and make note of guests comments concerning the service from the staff of the hotel or the friendliness of the staff.

You will also want to know the conditions of the rooms. Do the rooms in the hotel offer nice views? Are the guest rooms clean from top to bottom with evidence of deep cleaning and routine professional carpet cleaning in the rooms?

  1. Hidden Fees

Be careful to avoid hidden fees from the hotel or lodging you choose. Not all hotels offer free Wi-Fi and the cost of internet will add up very fast if you use your mobile devices regularly when on vacation. You should call the hotel prior to reserving the rooms and ask any questions you might have beforehand.

  1. Concierge

Is there a concierge on staff at the hotel? If you have never been to the San Juan Islands before you will likely have several questions concerning directions or recommendations for local activities. A full-time concierge is a big help for vacationers and tourists that are searching for fun ideas and activities to enjoy during their trip.

  1. Amenities

Some hotels in Roche Harbor and the San Juan Islands will offer free breakfast in the morning for their guests or free Wi-Fi or premium TV channels. If these things are of interest to you you should ask the customer service desk of the hotel before you reserve rooms for your stay in the San Juan Islands.

You don’t want your lodging to deter from your relaxation and fun during your visit to the San Juan Islands. A little research before reserving rooms and lodging will help to ensure that the hotel you choose is the best one for you and your family during your vacation.

Best Restaurants in Roche Harbor

seafood restaurant

There are several amazing local restaurants in Roche Harbor to choose from. You can enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine, a beautiful view and a delicious meal at many restaurants in the San Juan Islands but these are our personal favorites when it comes to dining in Roche Harbor:

Madrona Bar & Grill

The Madrona Bar & Grill is located in the Roche Harbor resort and features some of the best dining views in all of the San Juan Islands. Diners can feast on coastal-casual cuisine as well as original grilled sandwiches, BBQ ribs and more favorites.

There is an extensive wine list and cocktail menu to choose from and mouth-watering desserts to finish of the meal. This is truly one of the best restaurants in Roche Harbor and the San Juan Islands.

McMillin’s Dining Room

McMillin’s is an island-certified-local restaurant that is famous for its 40-day aged prime rib. You or someone from your group simply must try this tasty cut of meat. It’s sure to be memorable. The wine list at this establishment has won awards and it is no surprise as it contains almost every style and flavor a wine enthusiast could ask for.

San Juan Island Cheese

Cheese lovers will flock to San Juan Island Cheese for lunch and local fare as well as an exquisite wine list. The restaurant serves homemade breads and gorgeous cuts of cheese for diners to delight in. There are also salads, quiches, paninis and other offerings from their lunch menu that will satisfy your appetite before you set aboard the ferry just nearby.

Vinny’s Ristorante

If you love Italian food (who doesn’t?), Vinny’s Ristorante is a must-go during your visit to Roche Harbor and the San Juan Islands. The restaurant serves casual Italian food in a relaxing ambiance you and your friends will adore. There are several seafood items on the menu to complement traditional Italian offerings and delicious cuts of steak too. You are sure to find something on the menu that will leave your mouth watering for more!

Friday Harbor Ice Cream

Sometimes you just want to skip the main course altogether and go straight for dessert, right? That’s where Friday Harbor Ice Cream comes in. You can enjoy a cup or dish of a dozen different flavors, all of them delicious!

There are several other restaurants in Roche Harbor to choose from but these are just some of our favorites. Be sure to ask your hotel staff for recommendations of their own when you arrive in the San Juan Islands.

About Orca Whales

orca whales

One of the most popular attractions of Roche Harbor is our natural wildlife. You will see wildlife in the water and along the shores of the San Juan Islands. The most popular wildlife in the area that attracts visitors from across the country are our orca whales.

You can schedule tours and excursions in Roche Harbor from April until Octobr to see the orca pods that live in the area. This is one of the most popular excursions in all of the San Juan Islands.

Before you come to see our orca whales, perhaps you would like to learn a little more about these beautiful sea creatures:

  • Orca whales weigh up to 6 tons and grow a long as 23-32 feet. Their total length is similar to the length of a school bus. These are some of the largest sea creatures known to man and they’re the largest species of dolphins according to National Geographic.
  • Orca whales live in several different climates and habitats and are considered the second-most widely distributed mammals after humans. That’s right! You can find orcas in warm waters such as the San Juan Islands or freezing, icy waters around the globe. Orcas never stay any one place too long and are known to travel extremely far distances.
  • Orcas are an apex predator, meaning no other animal hunts them. The only mammal that hunts or kills orca whales are humans. Orcas feed on turtles, sea birds, octopi, rays and even sharks.
  • Orca mothers are pregnant for 17 months and will give birth to one new orca whale once every three or 10 years.
  • The black and white color of orca whales helps to camouflage them in the water in order to hunt their prey.

You can learn more about orca whales online before your visit or ask your tour guide several questions during your scheduled excursion as all of the tour guides are extremely knowledgeable about these amazing creatures.

Roche Harbor Excursions & Activities


Your stay in Roche Harbor wouldn’t be complete without a few fun tourist activities. The location offers several amazing sights to see and adventures to participate in.

Several of the hotels near the harbor offer their own excursions and tours and here are some we recommend:


You simply have to experience the kayaking at Roche Harbor. This excursion allows visitors to explore our wildlife, open waters, mountain views and scenic landscapes all from a kayak. You might even encounter an orca whale during your tour!

There is simply no better way to tour the San Juan Islands and Roche Harbor than a kayak tour from Suan Juan Outfiiters who have exclusive rights to access areas other tours cannot.


The best time for tourists to see an orca whale pod is between April and October. We recommend visiting the Suan Juan Islands during the summer months for beautiful weather and a chance to see these beautiful creatures in the marina.

You can see the orca whales from one of several group tours offered by local tourism companies throughout the Suan Juan Islands.


There are several scenic nature trails to explore during your visit to Roche Harbor. You can see the Historical English Camp along your hike or Mt. Young too.

You can find maps of all of the local trails at the hotels and lodging throughout Roche Harbor and you can contact us online for more information about the specific trails we would recommend for you during your visit here.


You will love the quaint feel of downtown Roche Harbor and the San Juan Islands where there are several local street vendors as well as lovely shops featuring handcrafted items and products from local storeowners.


You cannot visit Roche Harbor without enjoying a meal at one of our local restaurants in downtown and around the marina. There are several delicious choices to choose from and of course we recommend finding one of the many amazing seafood restaurants to dine at. The seafood restaurants offer fresh fish straight from the surrounding waters caught earlier in the day!

There is so much to do during a visit to Roche Harbor. We hope you visit us many times to get to experience everything the Suan Juan Islands have to offer!

Let’s Improve Your Hotel Stay!

sunset marina

This blog post will provide a few ideas on how to improve your lodging and hotel stay while visiting Roche Harbor & Marina. You want a hotel to be a home away from home and if you follow our tips you will feel very comfortable in your hotel room for the entire duration of your stay.

#1: Pack Prepared

You should pack a fresh change of clothes and all of your toiletries in your carry-on luggage. This ensures that if your luggage is lost or its arrival is delayed that when you arrive at the hotel you can change into fresh clothes and wash up if you want to. You won’t have to spend hours in the hotel waiting for your luggage to finally arrive.

#2: Portable Packing Shelves

You can purchase a closet organizer that will fold up like an accordion. Here is what you do. Place your clothing for your trip in each of the shelves of the organizer and then fold up the organizer into your luggage and pack the entire thing.

Then when you arrive at the hotel, pull the organizer out of your luggage and hang it in the closet in the hotel room and all of your clothes will be ready to access and wear and you won’t have to sort through your suitcase each day.

#3. Book Through the Hotel

Don’t use travel websites or directories to book your hotel room. You should visit the hotel website or call the hotel direct. This ensures that if your travel plans change or you need to cancel your hotel stay you can do so within 24 hours before your reservation. Travel sites often don’t allow the same flexibility.

#4. Don’t Pay for Wi-Fi

We recommend finding a hotel that includes free Wi-Fi. In 2017, you simply should not have to pay for internet access from a hotel. A hotel should feel like home and you don’t have to pay fees beyond your monthly bill for internet access at home. You’ve paid for your room. You shouldn’t have to pay for Wi-Fi too.

#5. Ask Housekeeping

You can ask housekeeping in a hotel in Roche Harbor for almost anything within reason. Don’t worry if you forgot toothpaste or shampoo or First Aid materials. The housekeeping service will bring almost anything you need to your room for you so you don’t have to scavenge the city looking for basic necessities.

These tips will help your hotel stay feel like a night at home!