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A handful of emeralds off Washington's north coast, Puget Sound's San Juan Islands sparkle with vistas of the Olympic Mountains, glimpses of whales at play and bald eagles. Explore four islands in one glorious week: Orcas, San Juan and Lopez in the San Juan islands chain, and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Ride, kayak and enjoy lusciously fresh island cuisine. Stroll Friday Harbor, which Conde Nast Traveler recently named one of the 'Most Beautiful Towns in America.' See why the League of American Bicyclists called this "the best and most popular place to bicycle in the United States."
*Note: Transfer to and from Seattle is included.
Meet in Seattle. Ride from historic La Conner to Anacortes, on Puget Sound. Ferry to Orcas Island, the largest of Washington's San Juans.
Our adventure starts in Seattle, Washington on a Sunday morning with a complimentary ride in our van to La Conner, a historic town tucked between the San Juan Islands and the Cascade Mountains. Bicycle to Anacortes for lunch, then board a Washington State ferry across Puget Sound. The islands unfold around you as you sail the glittering waters to Orcas Island.
Tackle the switchbacks of Mt. Constitution, the island's highest point. Or hike up. Either way, the view from the top is spectacular.
Today you'll challenge Mt. Constitution, highest point in the islands. If you'd prefer to hike rather than bicycle, take the trail to the top. A stone observation tower at the summit offers a magnificent view across Puget Sound: Vancouver (in Canada) to the north, the Cascade Range and Bellingham to the east, the rest of the San Juans and the Canadian Gulf Islands, Anacortes and Washington's Olympic Range to the south. In the afternoon, ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island for a delectable dinner at Duck Soup. Spend the next three nights at Tucker House Inn, a beautifully restored 1898 Victorian property just around the corner from the shops and restaurants of Friday Harbor.
Ride to Pelindaba lavender farm and Lime Kiln State Park.
Today you'll bicycle to American Camp, a national historic park featured prominently in the 1859 "Pig War" between England and the United States. Ride to Lime Kiln State Park, the only state park in the country devoted to observing orca (killer) whales. Most of the filming of movies about orca whales has been done in this area, as there are three resident pods here for much of the year. Wind and currents bring nutrient-rich waters to the park's rocky shores. The waters tempt the small fish; the small fish tempt the salmon - and voila! - an orca feast!. If you're lucky you'll see several of these magnificent animals play and leap from the water. This afternoon, explore Friday Harbor.
Ferry to Lopez, the 'Bicyclist's Island.' Ride to Spencer Spit, Agate Beach and Shark Reef.
On Wednesday, you'll bicycle the length of Lopez Island's rolling pastures, picturesque
shorelines and pebble-strewn beaches. Lopez is considered the cyclist's
island because of its extensive network of low traffic roads and lack
of any major hills. Be sure you learn the 'Lopez Wave' from your guides while on the ferry en route! Take a break from riding to walk into Shark Reef
Park, where you can watch the playful seals basking on the rocks below and gaze out at
San Juan Island just a mile away. Tonight you'll dine at Coho Restaurant, winner of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence.
Ferry to glorious Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Kayak the peaceful side of Victoria's Inner Harbor.
This morning you'll ferry to Sidney, British Columbia on Canada's Vancouver Island. After a short van ride into the city of Victoria, you'll be treated to a gourmet picnic on the grounds of the Inn at Laurel Point, your lodging for the next two nights. After lunch you'll embark on a kayak tour of the Inner Harbor to see things up close: seals, seaplanes, eagles and the Empress. This tour has it all! It's the perfect way to get a feel for this vibrant area.
Ride to gorgeously glorious Butchart Gardens. Explore!
Friday you'll bicycle to gorgeous Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of glorious, perfectly manicured gardens that are now a National Historic Site of Canada. In the afternoon, explore Victoria's Inner Harbor's oh-so-British offerings and curiosity shops. Don't miss Rogers Chocolates! Rather ride? Pedal from the gardens back to your lodging at the Inn at Laurel Point, whose spacious and well-appointed rooms overlook the harbor and are adjacent to downtown Victoria.
Explore Victoria, or take a morning ride along the coast or an inland paved bike trail - your choice.
Our final morning, your guides will lead an out-and-back on the Lochside Trail, a section of a national multi-use trail system
linking trails from coast to coast; or, if you prefer, along Dallas Avenue, which runs along the waterfront. Or spend some time exploring the marvelous shops, museums and galleries of downtown Victoria. Following lunch, head back to Seattle on an afternoon ferry.
As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.