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The San Juan Islands are a part of the San Juan Archipelago in the northwest corner of the continental United States. The archipelago is split into two groups of islands based on national sovereignty. San Juan Islands are part of the U.S. state of Washington, while the Gulf Islands are part of the Canadian province of British Columbia. There are over 450 islands in the entire archipelago at high tide, but fewer than one-sixth are inhabited, and only six are accessible by public ferry.

Today, the San Juan Islands are an important tourist destination, with sea kayaking and orca-watching being two of the primary attractions. Part of the charm that attracts tourists and residents to the San Juan Islands is that each island seems to have a character of its own, both in terms of geography and of the lifestyle of the people who live there.

The majority of the San Juan Islands are quite hilly, the tallest mountain being Mount Constitution at almost exactly a half-mile (800 m) elevation (see "Orcas Island" below), with some flat areas and valleys, often quite fertile, in between. The coastlines are a mixed bag of sandy and rocky beaches, shallow and deep harbors, placid and reef-studded bays. Gnarled, ochre-colored madrona trees grace much of the shorelines while evergreen fir and pine forests cover large inland areas.

San Juan Islands Information: Guide to the San Juans | San Juan Journal

San Juan Island Pages on the Rose Air website: Eastsound, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Orcas Island Getaway and Roche Harbor.

[Material adapted from Wikipedia. Photo: San Juan Journal.]