Home Features Friday Harbor,
San Juan Island

Friday Harbor,
San Juan Island

by Deane Hislop

Friday Harbor
EEach year, thousands of boaters visit Friday Harbor to enjoy the amenities of one of the Northwest’s largest marinas and experience all that the surrounding community offers. The Port of Friday Harbor Marina attracts boaters year-round, but during the summer, the area is positively bustling with activity.

Located on the east side of San Juan Island, Friday Harbor is the largest town on the island and the commercial and boating center for the San Juan Archipelago. Visitors will find a colorful harbor with plenty of amenities and spectacular views of the nearby islands as well as snowcapped Mount Baker and the Cascade Range. There is plenty to do and see in Friday Harbor.

The town possesses a village feel that’s suitable for walking. Since the San Juan Islands sit in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, fair weather is distinctly possible even in winter. Besides charm, scenery, and an unhurried pace, there are other attractions in Friday Harbor such as art, whales, and the local food.


Friday Harbor Highlights

Busy Harbor

Busy Harbor

Friday Harbor is the main town on the second biggest of the San Juan Islands. From San Juan Channel, boaters can enter the harbor northwest or southeast of privately-owned Brown Island, with the northern approach preferred by most boaters. When using this approach, it’s best to favor the starboard side of the channel because ferries, barges, and floatplanes utilize the center.

Upon arrival and before entering the marina, visiting boaters are asked to hail the “Port of Friday Harbor” on VHF channel 66A – at 1-watt power so not to broadcast through the surrounding islands – for a slip assignment. Reservations are suggested from May through September.

More than 1,500 boats make overnight stops annually and many more make day stops for refueling, provisioning, clearing customs, or to visit town. The Port of Friday Harbor, owned by the citizens of San Juan Island, is working on expanding the number of moorages available. The Port recently purchased Jensen’s Marina and Shipyard Cove Marina with the plan to develop an expanded marine business park and increase available moorage. The Port of Friday Harbor is literally the only game in town if you are looking for moorage.

If coming from Canada, arriving boaters will find a U.S Customs kiosk with a telephone to call the local U.S. Customs office and a document reader on Breakwater B (BWB). Moorage is available in the designated customs area on the eastside of the breakwater. During the summer the kiosk is often manned. The regional U.S. Customs office is in town.

More to do

More To Do

The Friday Harbor Film Festival in early November focuses exclusively on documentary films that “entertain – inspire – enlighten” us about the people, cultures, and environment that make up the Pacific Rim. Films are shown at five venues throughout downtown, just blocks from the marina.

If you have a desire to get out of town and see some of the island’s attractions, mopeds and scoot coupes are available at Susie’s Mopeds. Scoot coupes are a great option for people with children or those who want the experience of three-wheel touring. This is a fun way to spend a day visiting American Camp, Cattle Point, Lime Kiln State Park, English Camp, Roche Harbor, and other island attractions.

Aw, Shucks

Aw, Shucks

Fresh seafood is available in the marina at the bottom of the M-dock ramp at Friday Harbor Seafood, owned and operated by Eric and Brenda Wagner. The floating shop is well stocked with live and cooked crabs, prawns, salmon, smoked scallops, and tuna. Our favorites are the fresh in the shell Kumamoto and Capital oysters.

Three Fine Museums

Three Fine Musuems

Fresh seafood is available in the marina at the bottom of the M-dock ramp at Friday Harbor Seafood, owned and operated by Eric and Brenda Wagner. The floating shop is well stocked with live and cooked crabs, prawns, salmon, smoked scallops, and tuna. Our favorites are the fresh in the shell Kumamoto and Capital oysters.

Shop till you drop

Shop ‘Til You Drop

At the top of the dock ramp, next to the harbormaster’s office, make a left and follow the paved footpath through Jack Fairweather Park to town. The park is a great place to sit and relax while enjoying the stunning view of the harbor. The center piece of the park is native artist Susan Point’s “Portals of Welcome” sculpture of red cedar house posts that honors the enduring presence of the Coastal Salish people in the area.

Spring Street, lined with hanging flower baskets, is Friday Harbor’s main street. The town spreads out several blocks in either direction, on Front, First, Second and Nichols streets, so you’ll want to take some time to stroll. Shopaholics will love the boutiques and galleries featuring local and Native American artists. There are gift shops, specialty stores, wine shops and tastings, coffee shops, and ice cream parlors spread throughout this charming seaside community.

For provisions, Kings Market offers about everything a boater might need, including excellent fresh vegetables, meats, and a great selection of liquor, wine, and cheese. Upstairs shoppers will discover King’s Marine with clothing, fishing equipment, boat parts, books and charts, or any last-minute accessories. Every time we visit King’s Marine, I discover something for our 38-foot Meridian Easy Goin’ I didn’t know we needed.

On Saturdays, from April through September, don’t miss the San Juan Island Farmer’s Market – held at the Brickworks Plaza – where you’ll find fresh local ingredients, meet farmers, eat delicious baked goods, and foods cooked onsite. Enjoy the music of local musicians, who play throughout the market.

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island



Friday Harbor is full of wonderful places to eat. Our favorite place for breakfast is Rocky Bay Café. For lunch, we suggest the San Juan Bistro with their savory house-made quiches, salads, daily made soups, and panni.

If you have a desire for pub food, a couple of our favs are Herb’s Tavern, the oldest tavern in town, or Haley’s Sports Bar & Grill, where we have watched many Husky and Seahawks football games on large screens.

The Downrigger Restaurant is a great choice for seafood served up with an excellent view of the harbor. The Friday Harbor House Restaurant, with outdoor setting, features a seasonal menu that highlights fare from local waters and farms.

Other good dining choices: Backdoor Kitchen – high quality international food and drink; Cask and Schooners – featuring a nautical motif and seasonal British and American dishes; Coho Restaurant – with its locally sourced seafood and extensive wine list; and Hermosa – Mexican and Latin cuisines.

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