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Island Life

by NWY Staff
Roche Harbor Image
Photo Courtesy of Jack Riley & Roche Harbor Resort

By Jack Riley / Photos Courtesy of Jack Riley & Roche Harbor Resort

Roche Harbor Resort & Marina for generations has held a dear place in the hearts of boaters who cruise Northwest waters, and heading into the cruising season for 2024, there’s many reasons to visit this seaside village.  The feeling of marina hospitality begins upon reaching your slip, as the top-notch marina staff catch lines and assist with the docking process. Next, they will aid in getting your vessel plugged into power, and then it’s time to relax and enjoy island life!  Now, more than ever, Roche Harbor is ready to offer the ultimate in seaside relaxation and amenities.

Staying in Roche Harbor Marina is not just being on a dock surrounded by a community of friendly boaters, it’s about escaping the worries of the real world and transporting to a mental state of serenity, enjoying what matters most in life: time well spent with family and friends. There is no shortage of activities to take part in, resort amenities to enjoy, and a colorful past to explore. Roche Harbor is known for its historic roots on San Juan Island, originally as a lime quarry operation under John McMillin, and more recently as the boating and resort destination it is today, pioneered by the Tarte family.

Those familiar with Roche Harbor through past decades have seen the resort grow and develop, while still maintaining the historic charm that provides such a unique sense of place like nothing else. Not only can one moor in the marina, but there are a wide variety of land-based accommodations such as the historic Hotel De Haro, luxurious Quarryman Hall Suites, and Historic Cottages, which were originally homes for workers of the Roche Harbor Lime & Cement Company over 100 years ago. (One of the Cottages stands out as it is bright red among the white cottages—it was the schoolhouse for youth of Roche Harbor in the 1800s.) It’s not uncommon for boaters to leave the boat moored in a slip and opt for a stay in one of the lodging accommodations in Roche, and new for 2024, there is more to be thrilled about with the addition of four brand new cottages on the lawn. 

It’s hard to miss the vast green space of lawn by the shore of Roche Harbor, a great place for activities with kids and hosting large catered dinners (Rendezvous guests will be familiar with this spot!). Historic images dating back to the 19th century show that this space was originally part of the village cottages, as there were four rows of homes, opposed to the two rows that existed during the resort era of Roche Harbor.  The cottages are a favorite land-based accommodation for boaters, as they each have multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, and living/dining space, not to mention an outdoor firepit and grill with amazing views of the harbor and sunset.  Plus, there is a dock that extends from the lawn for boaters to tie up with tenders—very convenient to get to and from one’s boat!

The four new cottages are in front and to the side of the previous front row of cottages and have minimal impact on the view and open space. They are two-bedroom/one-bathroom units, with a kitchen and living/dining space, and feature air conditioning.  Given their location as the foremost cottages in the village, these new accommodations have a great view of the marina, and are expected to be available early this month.

Some boaters have been coming to Roche Harbor for decades, others for a few years, and there are those that have yet to visit this idyllic Pacific Northwest destination.  For those that have been coming year after year, the Afterglow Spa in Roche Harbor rings familiar, though it was unfortunately closed for the past three years. Boaters looking to relax and rejuvenate will be glad to know that the Afterglow Spa is open again, with completely new treatments, products, and offerings. (It is even led by a talented spa professional who originally discovered Roche when visiting via boat with her husband.)

Afterglow Spa is an intimate space to unwind and connect. Located in the heart of the Roche Harbor village, it offers an enticing collection of spa experiences that incorporate the beauty and wellness of West Coast waters. Alongside traditional massages and facials, Afterglow Spa has curated the exclusive Afterglow OnBoard Massage, where your therapist will do your treatment in the privacy of your vessel. This massage includes all the comforts of the spa, as a deluxe portable massage table is utilized, as well as spa linens, audio, and wellness products. Also created with boaters in mind is the Rendezvous Recovery treatment. Drinks happen and we understand! This 90-minute experience is targeted towards feeling better if you happen to wake up tired after a long night of fun, and it includes hydration, liver support, eucalyptus steam, and a detoxifying massage. There are many other enticing treatments, including oceanic mineral hydrotherapy or virtually guided indoor cold immersion.

Whether it’s to relax, spend time with the ones you love, or live the high life like John Wayne (seriously, he was well-known to enjoy visiting Roche by sea), boating to Roche Harbor is an experience unlike any other. It is a place to make memories that last a lifetime and there has never been a better time to get excited for the multitude of amenities and activities waiting to be explored upon docking.

>>ABOUT THE EXPERT: I grew up in Seattle, but have been coming to San Juan Island every summer of my life, typically for the 4th of July festivities or the county fair. I was lucky enough to have grandparents that introduced me to life on the water and the wonderful world of boating, fishing, crabbing, etc. on their 34′ Prowler and little Boston Whaler tender. After working at Roche Harbor as a dockhand during college, island life had captured my heart and I was lucky enough to be hired as a member of the accounting department after graduation. As time progressed, I discovered a passion for photography, which led to becoming involved in my current role in marketing at Roche Harbor Resort. I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar faces this upcoming cruising season and am excited to welcome boaters old and new to the friendly waters of Roche Harbor. For more details about staying and playing in Roche Harbor, visit: rocheharbor.com.

Photo Courtesy of Jack Riley & Roche Harbor Resort
Photo Courtesy of Jack Riley & Roche Harbor Resort

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