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Two Wheel Adventure: Exploring The San Juan Islands

Summer is coming, the pandemic is officially over, and the islands are open for business. With skyrocketing inflation, those European, South American, and Australian moto tours may be out of reach financially, so what's a rider to do? Explore the San Juan Islands, of course.

Having spent a lot of time in the San Juans, I concluded that it's kind of fun to explore every perimeter road to the very end. Often there may be something interesting at the end of it. It might be a State park, a great viewpoint, or some dynamite food. Each of the three main islands can be explored in less than a day, giving you ample time to travel to the next in the afternoon or the next morning. Plan for three to five days to take it all in.

There's no need to rush. You'll have lots of time to ride each perimeter and soak in all the goodness as you ride. In this article we're not calling out specific accommodations or eateries as they are always subject to change. Hours for most restaurants vary by season, so research online in advance and pay close attention to who is open and when, as you build up your dream itinerary.

Begin by taking the ferry out of Anacortes, or if you're coming from Canada, you'll grab the ferry out of Sidney. San Juan Island is the obvious initial destination since that's the first stopping point for either ferry you choose. Even by motorcycle, ferry reservations are recommended for all ferry routes.

San Juan Island

Riding around San Juan begins in Friday Harbor which offers a number of overnight accommodations, good restaurants, and some nice walking, too, if you need to stretch a little. Counter-clockwise is the way to go on this island which will provide the best water views as you roll around.

Head northwest for Roche Harbor, then wind your way out to Yacht Haven and over to Snug Harbor. To the south lies Lime Kiln Point State Park and, just beyond, a spectacular viewpoint looking across to Vancouver Island. Next stop is False Bay Islands Reserve, American Camp, and then Cattle Point. Making your way back to Friday Harbor, you can meander out to Torn Point Park for more island views.

Orcas Island

Orcas has a few nice resorts and several hotels, or you can book an Airbnb in advance. Where the ferry docks, you'll find a few accommodations and restaurants, but the brunt of the action is up in the Eastsound area on the north end of the island.

Due to the shape of the island, it's not possible to ride around it in a circle, rather you simply ride to the various ends of the roads and then back track to the next destination. From east to west the key spots begin with a trip out to Doe Bay Resort where there's dining, a small store, and some very nice hot pools worthy of a soak, which are open to guests of the resort. The view out to the bay while soaking at 102 degrees can't be beat!

Next up, a squirrelly jaunt down to Obstruction Pass State Park, then a trip up to the highest point in the San Juan Islands, Mt. Constitution. And as if that's not high enough, park your bike and walk up into the observation tower for a grand view looking south and east.

Next up, Rosario Resort is worth a trip into if you're not already staying there. Stretch your legs and walk the grounds before heading into Eastsound for a walking tour around town.

Heading south through Crow Valley, make your way over to Deer Harbor and enjoy a beverage and leisurely break at the marina store. Arrive early for the ferry ride to Lopez so you have time to stroll the shops near the dock.

Lopez Island

Lopez is the smallest of the three islands worthy of bopping about by motorcycle. Lopez is also a favorite with bicyclists due to its relatively flat contour, so keep your eyes peeled as you ride.

You'll arrive via the ferry terminal on the north tip of the island. The first place to explore is Odlin County Park. If you're a camper, you can book reservations in advance here or at the nearby Spencer Spit State Park.

Next stop is into the small village of Lopez. Here you'll find eateries, groceries, and other shopping amenities.

Continue exploring the island in a counter-clockwise pattern with stops at the marina, airport, and Shark Reef Sanctuary. Park the bike here and walk the 1 mile out-and-back trail that provides beautiful views across the water and perhaps some aquatic life will show up, too, like a sea lion or otter.

Close out your ride with a visit to Agate Beach for more water views, a ride to the end of Sperry Road, and a visit to Spencer Spit before ending your exploratory tour.

SR!/May 2023

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