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Head to the Hills—or, Rather, the San Juan Islands—for an Unforgettable Last Summer Group Getaway
Julie Pointer-Adams
byJulie Pointer-Adams
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Roche Harbor Resort

248 Reuben Memorial Drive, Friday Harbor, WA, United States

Are you longing for an end-of-summer vacay with your friends or family gang that hits the reset button for a good long while? The San Juan Islands are where it’s at. And no—these aren’t some untouched islets hidden somewhere in the Caribbean… they’re the pine-covered beauties of the Northwest, located just a few hours north of Seattle (i.e. totally accessible if you don’t mind a ferry—or seaplane—ride or two). This place screams all that is glorious about summertime (freshwater lakes, swimming, cliff-jumping, fresh seafood, wildlife galore, spotty internet/cell service and the kind of magically deafening silence you only find in the wild), and the perfect spot to plant you and your crew is the Salish Sea-side-situated Roche Harbor Resort.

Photography: Jared Stever

Located on San Juan Island proper, this historic resort tucked into and around the charming village of Roche Harbor is a knockout if you’re looking for a laidback hideaway surrounded by forest and sea. With a vast variety of accommodations ranging from the perfectly picturesque Hotel Haro to village homes, historic standalone cottages, condos and private suites, each water-centric locale will have you chilled out just as soon as you arrive. These are comfy, low-key launching pads for spending your days reveling in the outdoors—not to be confused with the type of resort meant for loafing inside, simply idling while the day passes you by (although there is a spa and pool where you may want to park it for a while). Trust us, the San Juans are made for the adventuring type, and the group of guys and gals who aren’t afraid to get a little bit dirty while doing it.

Photography: Cassandra Lavalle

Perched on the gorgeous marina, the Resort is poised as the ideal spot for sending you off on daylong excursions, whether by land or by sea—not to mention outfitted with a marina crew for those who want to arrive by their own personal boat and dock for a while. For willing seafarers, there are regular whale watching outings where you can expect to see orca and humpback whales, seals, sea lions and bald eagles among others, or sea kayak outings for a more intimate, peaceful way to experience the water. Apart from organized tours, of course, there is plenty of hiking to be done, both on San Juan Island and further afield as there are several other surrounding islands to explore. Or for down days, stick around the harbor and kick off a bocce tournament with your buds on the side-by-side, 65-foot custom built courts made with crushed oyster shells for a truly authentic game zone for the diehards among you.

Photography: nkostickRoche Harbor Resort 

Like we said, there’s a (heated—at a cool 86 degrees) pool and full-service spa on site as well, so for the days when you just need to soak the dogs, by all means take a load off. And for those who can’t squeeze in a last-minute summer trip, not to worry—the San Juans are dreamy at any time of year. Roche Harbor Resort is a gem of a spot for a wedding, birthday party, family reunion, corporate retreat or what have you, so get to it and book your Northwest escape now.   

Photography: ducktopian | Rudy Willingham


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