A Ferry Ride to the San Juan Islands
Have you ever ridden on a ferry boat? I have a few dream-like memories of riding on one as a toddler, and when I did study abroad in Scotland in college one of the highlights of the trip was taking the ferry to the Orkney Islands.
Last summer we took our boys on their own first ever ferry experience. We used the ferry to get from Washington State's mainland to Victoria, British Columbia, and then the San Juan Islands.
It was one of our favorite parts of the whole trip.
There's something amazing standing on a deck watching land slip farther and farther away while the waves shimmer silver above the black ocean depths.
I highly recommend it. Especially if you have kids.
The first ferry we went on was at night, so the excitement seeing it come in and loading our car onto it was all our boys could handle before they fell asleep. We watched the sun set while we played by the dock and our oldest's excitement when he finally saw the boat was adorable.
The second ferry was in the afternoon, and it was a magical way to spend an afternoon. We decided not to go whale-watching or boating with our small kids because I would be an anxious wreck the whole time, so it was fun to be at sea, but on a boat with extremely safe railing. I didn't worry about my kids falling in at all! Not once!. They just ran and ran up and down that deck having a whale of a time (get it? mom jokes).
Most of the time we spent on the deck. Running, playing peek-a-boo with strangers, and looking for orcas. My oldest is super into orcas, and we had just seen some in Olympic National Park a few days earlier, so he kept yelling "Orca! Seal!" when actually there were none. But gotta love his spirit!
The other fun game on the deck was looking for the "big wheel". Spoiler, we couldn't find it, but we made do with the life buoy instead. It made a pretty great fake helm.
When we did go inside, a super friendly ferry worker got crayons and coloring books for the kids. There was also a cafeteria where we were able to get food. I was helped by the kidest, loveliest fellow passengar who helped me carry all my food back to my family. There were so many little instances like this on the trip. I've always thought Nashville was the friendliest place in the world, but honestly, the San Juan Islands give it a run for its money. I hope all those passengers who played peek-a-boo with my kids and the lady who helped me and the kind ferry workers find $20 in their pockets.
There are these tiny round islands that flank either side of the ferry for almost the whole ride, which really surprised and delighted me. They never seemed to be more than 1/4 mile away. Sometimes we passed tiny ports that were so incredibly quaint. Like something out of a book.
One of the prettiest sights was the port of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island as we sailed into it, full of bright sailboats and bright sunshine. Here it comes, isn't it beautiful?
A few practical things to know about riding the ferry:
We rode the Blackball ferry from Port Angeles to VIctoria, B.C.
We rode the WSDOT ferry from Victoria, B.C to the islands and back to Anacortes, WA, on the mainland.
We took our car on the ferry, which was awesome. You can walk on as well.
For WSDOT, you buy one ticket and it pays for your whole trip, there and back and in-between any islands. It was around $80 and I thought it was a great deal. We went on three ferry rides, all with our car, with it!
Book ahead! You can visit the website to find booking dates and more information. I also called once, they were helpful and so extremely friendly.
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