How to Get from Tacoma to San Juan Island

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Emerald Queen Casino de Havilland Otter
Emerald Queen Casino Seaplane

While technically a part of Washington State, San Juan Island feels a bit like a foreign country. Heck, some of its rocky coves are closer to Canada than the American mainland. And traveling from Tacoma to San Juan Island is no small feat 鈥 until recently. Reaching the quaint Olympic Rainshadow destination is now as simple as catching a 55-minute scenic flight from Tacoma鈥檚 Ruston Way seaplane terminal. 

Located within the Olympic Rainshadow, San Juan Island offers a sun-filled reprieve from the drizzle of T-town. The following outlines the four most common ways to travel from Tacoma to San Juan Island.聽

Top 4 Ways to Travel from Tacoma to San Juan Island

The cold wet truth of it is, reaching San Juan Island ultimately requires a boat or plane. That鈥檚 the nature of being tucked among a remote archipelago. To reach the hallowed shores, one must find a way to cross the salty waves. 

1. Fly Directly from Ruston Way to Friday Harbor Marina

A seaplane flight from the Ruston Way terminal to Friday Harbor Marina is one of the two fastest ways to reach San Juan Island from Tacoma. Regularly scheduled flights run Thursday through Monday. Parking is available in the parking lot just above the dock.

Average Travel Time: 55 minutes

2. Fly Directly from Ruston Way to Roche Harbor Marina

A seaplane flight from the Ruston Way terminal to Roche Harbor Marina is the other fastest way to reach San Juan Island from Tacoma. Regularly scheduled flights run Thursday through Monday. Parking is available in the parking lot just above the dock.

Average Travel Time: 55 minutes

3. Drive to Boeing Field. Fly to Friday Harbor Airport.

The estimated travel time for driving to Boeing Field can range WILDLY depending on traffic. The northern jaunt from Tacoma to Seattle can become quite congested. We suggest leaving a generous buffer in your plans, so you can make your check-in time. That being said, the flight from Boeing Field to Friday Harbor Airport with 蜜桃社区 Express is reliable and beautiful.

Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

4. Drive to Anacortes. Ride the Ferry to Friday Harbor.

The drive from Tacoma to Anacortes tacks on an extra hour and a half (or more) to your drive to Boeing Field. Advance planning is strongly recommended for this trip, as you鈥檒l want to secure a ferry reservation or be prepared to wait for an extended period of time to catch a boat. 

Estimated Travel Time: 3 Hours 40 minutes

Tacoma to San Juan Island FAQ

Do I Need a Car on San Juan Island?

San Juan Island is the most pedestrian-friendly destination in the San Juans. There鈥檚 a plethora of car-free fun things to do in Friday Harbor and at Roche Harbor Resort. For those who want to explore the Scenic Byway or visit one of the inland hot spots (like Duck Soup Inn), a host of rental vehicles are available. Some of our favorites include scoot coupes from , e-bikes from , and a rental car from . 

Where is the Best Place to Stay on San Juan Island?

There鈥檚 a plethora of San Juan Island lodging options, ranging from stunning waterfront view rooms at Friday Harbor House to modern cabins tucked into the hillside. Explore some of our top places to stay on San Juan Island to pick which one is right for you.

Where鈥檚 the Best Place to Eat on San Juan Island?

Fresh, local ingredients reign supreme here, and we鈥檙e not mad about it one bit. Menus have a tendency to change frequently with the seasons, leaning heavily on seafood and locally grown produce. Discover our top picks for places to eat on San Juan Island.

Fun Things To Do In The San Juan Islands

Friday Harbor House Weekend Getaway

Fire Pits at Friday Harbor House
Perched one block above the Friday Harbor Marina, Friday Harbor House is ideally positioned for the ultimate weekend getaway. Idyllic fire pits, farm-to-table cuisine, and luxurious accommodations have earned this boutique hotel a beloved following.

Ultimate Guide to Spring at Roche Harbor Resort

Roche Harbor Resort Hotel de Haro. Photo by Jack Riley
Modern lodging options (along with more modest historic ones), a host of dining establishments, and a plethora of nearby things to do make Roche Harbor Resort the ultimate destination for families, couples, and gal-pal getaways.