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Bike Tour of San Juan Islands

  • San Juan Islands, WA

  • 5 nights

Grade 4 - Intense

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Combine cycling, stunning coastline, relaxed island life and the best that western Washington has to offer during an unforgettable 5-night cycling vacation, powered by Itrepid, away from the stresses of everyday life!

With great weather and scenery and marine wildlife second to none, the San Juan Islands are a cyclist's paradise to ride quiet roads from delightful fishing villages to the pristine waters separating the USA from Canada. Off the bike you’ll find fascinating history, friendly locals and amazing cuisine—this cycling adventure, powered by Intrepid, takes in the best of it all at a pace everyone can enjoy.

The Basics

Start and Finish: Anacortes, United States

Minimum Age: 15

Group Size: Minimum 1, Maximum 16




With Intrepid's expert insight, leaders will guide you to the best spots to experience cycling, stunning coastline, relaxed island life, and the best that western Washington has to offer. Ride the quiet roads from delightful fishing villages to the pristine waters separating the USA from Canada, while discovering fascinating history, friendly locals and amazing cuisine.

  • Ride a loop of San Juan Island, pausing at Lime Kiln Point, one of the best places in the world to spot passing orca pods
  • Enjoy local produce at its finest from locally crafted wines to seafood pulled directly from the pristine waters
  • Conquer the 2400 foot Mt Constitution and be rewarded with endless seascape and distant mountain views from the summit
  • Escape busy roads and drift alongside quiet coves, whitewashed lighthouses, green farmland and purple-hued lavender farms
  • Enjoy a multitude of options off the bike in this marine paradise, from whale spotting cruises to sea kayaking


Welcome to Anacortes, the waterside gateway to Washington’s laid-back San Juan Islands. Your trip begins with a 3 pm welcome meeting with your guide and fellow travelers. Afterward, enjoy a warm-up ride around beautiful Fidalgo Island, taking in stunning water views of the surrounding Puget Sound.

After the ride, you’re free to freshen up and head out to the vibrant Old Town to enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants. Being this close to the water, the seafood is always highly recommended! If you arrive early there is plenty to do in and around Anacortes, from browsing antique stores and art galleries to sea kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Or, just enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring the quiet bays and coves nearby.

  • Accommodation: hotel (1 night)
  • There are no meals included on this day.
  • Today’s riding distance is approximately 27 kms/17 miles, undulating with 435 m/1400 ft of overall elevation gain.

Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as Intrepid will be collecting insurance and emergency contact details at this time. If you are going to be late please let Vacayou or the hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Take a ferry (approximately 1 hour) from Anacortes to horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands. You’ll start riding straight off the boat, heading north to the delightful historic village of Eastsound, scenically located at the top of the fjord-like waters of the same name.

After exploring the town, head to a pottery studio featuring the work of several local artists and a stunning natural setting overlooking the Canadian Gulf Islands just across the border. Returning south via scenic Deer Harbor, take another ferry ride to the seaport town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Here you have time to explore this charming and easily walkable town. You may wish to explore the Whale Museum in preparation for an optional whale watching boat ride later this week.

  • Accommodation: hotel (1 night)
  • Optional Activities: Whale Museum - USD9
  • Meals Included: breakfast
  • Today’s riding distance is approximately 52 kms/32 miles, undulating with 825 m/2700 ft of overall elevation gain.

After breakfast, take a cycling loop around the entire island along the quiet yet picturesque roads that make up the San Juan Island Scenic Byway. In the middle of the 19th century, San Juan Island was subject to a border dispute and was once divided between the UK and the USA, as both claimed it as their territory.

You’ll have options to stop along the way to learn more about this quirky chapter in American history as you pass by the American and English camps that comprise San Juan Island National Historical Park. You will also take in the sublime water views over False Bay and the whitewashed Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, recognized as one of the best places in the world to view whales directly from land.

Continue your cycling around the island then return to charming Friday Harbor for a relaxing evening.

  • Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)
  • Included Activities: San Juan Island National Historical Park
  • Meals Included: breakfast
  • Today’s riding distance is approximately 66 km/41 miles, undulating with 880 m/2900 ft of overall elevation gain.

Today you're back on the bike for a leisurely morning ride, looping inland on the island past the popular organically certified Pelindaba Lavender Farm, one of the largest in the country, before returning to Friday Harbor.

The afternoon is free for you to explore – you may wish to board a whale-watching boat and, with luck, see orca whales in the wild. The boat ride is 3-4 hours and if whales aren’t featured you may still see other wildlife including bald eagles.

Tonight, you can opt to enjoy another great dinner in Friday Harbor with ample fresh, local seafood options or retire early and save your strength for tomorrow’s ride.

  • Accommodation: hotel (1 night)
  • Optional Activities: Orca Whale Watching Tour - USD119
  • Meals Included: breakfast
  • Today’s riding distance is approximately 30 km/19 miles, undulating with 375 m/1200 ft of overall elevation gain.

The day starts with a ferry ride (approximately 1 hour) back to Orcas Island – be sure to keep a keen eye out for wildlife as you pass the many smaller islands along the way.

Today’s ride is a classic, from the shoreline at Orcas Landing all the way to the summit of Mt Constitution. At 731 metres (2398 feet), it’s the tallest point in the San Juan Islands and features a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding islands in the US and Canada, as well as Washington’s snow-covered Mt Baker rising over 3000 metres (10,000 feet).

In addition to the view, your other reward today is the amazing descent back down the mountain to Eastsound. From here, continue by ferry back to Anacortes for your final night and perhaps go out for a group dinner to celebrate your cycling adventure.

  • Accommodation: hotel (1 night)
  • Meals Included: breakfast
  • Today’s riding distance is approximately 60 kms/38 miles, mostly flat with one significant climb and descent, with 1330 m/4400 ft of overall elevation gain. Note you will save around 8 kms/5 miles and almost 600 m/2000 ft of climbing if you opt to take the support vehicle up Mt Constitution instead of cycling up.

After breakfast, enjoy one last ride, quite different from what you have experienced on the islands. Leave Anacortes and ride along the Tommy Thompson Trail before walking your bike across an abandoned railroad trestle bridge that spans the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. Make sure to keep an eye out for marine life on the way across.

Start riding again on the western shore of the bay then on to the quiet wooded roads of the Swinomish Indian Reservation, following the Swinomish Channel and enjoying the gentle pastoral views of the Skagit Valley. From here head west towards the calm waters of Similk Bay and continue all the way back to Anacortes where your cycling adventure ends.

  • Meals Included: breakfast
  • Today’s riding distance is approximately 37 kms/23 miles, mostly flat with one significant climb and descent, with 330 m/1100ft of overall elevation gain.


There are regular rest breaks each day, however, it is important to note that you will be riding over multiple and consecutive days in a climate and terrain that may be unfamiliar. While it can be tempting to start out riding as hard and fast as you can Intrepid recommends taking it easy on the first few days while your body gets used to the rides and the climate.

As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential!

It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle, both solo and in a group environment.

The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons they only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. They take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy Intrepid's style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of the group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. Intrepid recommends that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling.

Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at the time of booking so a suitable sized bike can be organized. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. Bike helmets cannot be provided locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.

A negative COVID-19 test is NOT required before joining a trip unless it is a requirement of entry for the country. If you are unwell prior to traveling, please stay at home and contact Intrepid to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, the advice of local health authorities will be followed to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. All travelers should continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader.

While Intrepid is confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes they include, they do recognize that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise them at the time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that Intrepid will not be carrying a spare bike for you.

Although the surfaces of the roads Intrepid travels on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, they recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that they usually cannot accept tandem bikes on their tours as often they are too large for their transport.

Intrepid recommends that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimize any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy.

Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes.

A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. Intrepid recommends that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities.

Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle.

Your bike will be transported in the same way as Intrepid's included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While they endeavor to take the best care we can, you should recognize that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when Intrepid takes other forms of transport, such as a train, where they are unable to pack the bikes ourselves. Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together).

While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts).

In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees.

The best time to visit the San Juan Islands in good weather is generally between April and October. July and August are the warmest months to visit when daytime temperatures range from the upper 60s to the low 80s. Evenings cool to averages of low to mid-50s, and rainfall is at its lowest from April to September.

To allow flexibility in showing your appreciation, gratuities are not included. If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Please note Intrepid recommends that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from their past travellers:

Local guides:

Throughout your trip, you may at times have a local guide. Intrepid suggests US$3-5 per passenger per day.


You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. Intrepid suggests US$3-6 per day for drivers.

Your Tour Leader:

You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD$2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

In total, Intrepid recommends you budget approx USD$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

While travelling with Intrepid, you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule, the groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Your group leader will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There may be some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary. Please notify the group leader of any dietary requirements in your group meeting at the start of the trip.

For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips.

  • Helmet: these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (Intrepid's leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case.
  • Padded bike shorts
  • Quick-dry jerseys. You can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates.
  • Quick-dry socks
  • Cycling gloves are not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall.
  • Rain gear. Pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road
  • Light breathable waterproof/windproof is especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor.
  • Water bottle. Intrepid doesn't provide bottles but all their bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier.
  • Sunglasses. Well-fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun
  • Day pack. Intrepid's support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea.
  • Suncream. Please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun
  • Normal sports shoes can be worn on all of the trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however Intrepid recommendeds 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons they require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding.
  • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – the leader will assist in fitting it to your bike
  • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – the leader will assist in fitting them to your bike

As space in Intrepid's support vehicle/transport can be limited, they request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases. They also request that travellers bring only a small bag, no more than 20kgs with them.

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers, taxes and excess baggage charges
  • Travel insurance (mandatory and must be taken out at the time of booking)
  • Optional activities and all personal expenses


This trip is provided by Intrepid Travel. Minimum age requirement is 15 years old. Minimum of four people total must book this trip for it to happen. Maximum 12 people allowed on the trip in total. A Single Supplement may be available on this trip, please ask for more information. Prices include taxes and fees.


Lock in your trip with a deposit and then pay the rest in instalments whenever you like, with no interest or fees. Just make sure you've paid in full by 21 days before your trip is scheduled to depart. If you cancel your trip up to 21 days before departure, you can transfer your deposit to another available trip or hold your deposit on file indefinitely.


Travel insurance is compulsory on all Intrepid trips for those travelling internationally. They require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. Intrepid strongly recommends all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. 

Authority on Tour:

Trips are run by a group leader. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund.  Intrepid may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy Intrepid's style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of the group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. Intrepid recommends that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling.

Any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving Intrepid's leaders, partners or local people, will not be tolerated. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, drink responsibly and abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.