This year we spent the better part of a week in the Bellingham/Lake Whatcom area.  We stumbled on it many years ago, and always meant to return.  This year we did.  We booked a whale-watching tour with San Juan Cruises, and had a fabulous time cruising the San Juan Islands. The highlights were the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. the great views of Mount Baker, the beautiful ships and boats, Popeye the harbor seal at Friday Harbor, and our first humpback whale sighting.  (Because it was the only whale we saw, San Juan Cruises gave us a 50% off ticket for another trip in the future, with no expiration date, a gesture that made us very happy.)

There are 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County with four that are served by ferries:  San Juan Island (with the county seat Friday Harbor), Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island.  These ones are the most populated,  and have most of the amenities for tourists.  We found Friday Harbor particularly charming, and would even return to stay a couple of days.  Temperatures in the area a mild 70° in the summer and 40° in the winter.  For a photographer, it offers grand opportunities for wildlife viewings and island/ocean and Mount Baker vistas.  Enjoy!