What Makes San Juan Island So Special

San Juan Island information

Anna Maria of Tucker House Inn and San Juan Island Restaurant – Coho, sent me this interesting piece.


Just this week Travel and Leisure ranked the San Juan Islands #10 best island in the world and #2 in the US and Canada.
In 2013, Trip Advisor rated San Juan Island the number one island in the country and number four in the world!

We all know that the San Juan Islands are stunningly beautiful and are great place to see amazing wildlife or have a thrilling outdoor adventure. This week as we celebrated the July 4th holiday, the Island experienced a wave of visitors. If you’re planning on being one of them – and we hope you are! – here are some interesting factoids about San Juan Island beyond the whales, beauty and outdoor adventure.

These first three come from a recent contest run by the Economic Development Council (EDC).

1)      There are more business licenses per capita in San Juan County than any other county in the state of Washington. Chances are, if you have an idea for a product or service, you’ll be able to set up your headquarters here!

2)      There are cannonballs buried in the Cliffside of Orcas Island, left from the Pig War soldiers’ target practice. There are so many versions of the Pig War story. Check out the Harrison House and Tucker House’s version here!

san juan island information about the archipeligo

Mt. Finlayson & Spring Prairie 1 Photo Courtesy of National Park  Service 

More San Juan Island Information

3) Most of the San Juans were originally explored and mapped out by Spanish explorers, and we have an interesting part in Spanish history.

Here are some other factoids from other San Juan Island sources including the Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce and from Island naturalists!

4)      128 rocks or small islands in the San Juans have official names.

5)      San Juan County has more miles of shoreline than any other county in the country, at 375. The average real estate value of waterfront property is $1,000-4,000 per square foot.

6)      In the early 20th century the islands were overrun with an infestation of European rabbits. They were very invasive and came from a careless owner on Smith Island. Nobody knows how they got from Smith to San Juan Island. They’re still thriving today.

7)      There are a few stories about how Friday Harbor got its name. The real one is because of Joe Friday, a very influential Hawaiian who was instrumental in settling the town. Island lore describes Spanish explorers mapping the islands, passing the harbor, yelling up to a gentleman standing there to ask what bay they were in, and getting back “Friday” as an answer!

8)      Every day between 4:30 and 6 p.m., one of our islanders goes out to the intersection of Roche Harbor and Westcott Rd. and leaves scraps of raw chicken and fish for bald eagles (we have more in San Juan County than in the lower 48). Often you can park your car and watch as more than a dozen eagles swoop in for a free afternoon snack!

9)      Popeye is a seal who is the mascot of Friday Harbor. She even has her own statue down by the waterfront. Popeye lives off offerings of scraps from the fresh fish shack down on the marina. Meet Floyd, the harbor seal mascot on the west side of the island! He loves to stop by Lime Kiln State Park to say hi to summer visitors. Floyd and Popeye are just two of over 4,000 harbor seals in San Juan County alone!

10)  You wouldn’t think of an island in the Pacific Northwest as a premier scuba-diving destination, but the rocky shorelines and interesting underwater formations of our archipelago are perfect for diving enthusiasts! Jacques Cousteau called the Islands, the #2 place to dive in the world. Rocky reefs and thick kelp forests offer views of crab, corals, sponges, starfish, octopus and more!

That was a lot of interesting facts and information about San Juan Island. Thanks Anna Maria!