Tucked away in the northwestern corner of San Juan Island, Roche Harbor invites you to kick back, relax and enjoy the simple things in life. History fills the air of this seaside island retreat, having risen to prominence in the 19th century as the West Coast’s most important producer of lime and cement. As a result, this enchanting village is steeped in old-fashioned charm and rounded out with lush gardens, water-based activities, buzzing waterfront and an accredited marina.
While endlessly historic, the town also serves up a fabulous slice of luxury in the form of plush spa treatments, memorable fine dining experiences, glitzy shopping and deluxe hotels. After exploring the tiny village, enjoying the Pacific Northwest scenery and soaking up the seaside melodies, Roche Harbor is sure to capture your heart and leave you with a lifetime’s worth of memories.
Where to Stay
When it comes to lodging, the extravagant Hotel de Haro has been the centerpiece of this seaside resort for over a century and remains the quintessential Roche Harbor experience. The hotel is named after Spanish explorer Gonzalo López de Haro, the first European said to have discovered the San Juan Islands. The building itself dates all the way back to 1886 when the village became a company town for John McMillin’s lime works, and today the Hotel de Haro is the oldest continually operating hotel in Oregon.
The exclusive resort has just 19 well-appointed guest rooms, each jam-packed with their fair share of old-fashion charm and, vintage furnishings and historical details. All the rooms in this historic hotel have balcony access with comfortable seating for full views of the gardens and marina. Take it a step farther and immerse yourself in history by requesting the brand-new John Wayne Suite, the refurbished favorite of the American legend, which includes an extra-long tub.
Where to Dine
McMillin’s offers the perfect marriage between sophisticated fine dining and the local island hospitality of Roche Harbor. Set within the former house of lime and cement entrepreneur John McMillin, this cozy restaurant sits directly on the coast and offers 360º views of the waterfront and bustling marina. Old meets new in the modern American dining space with elegant décor making for a memorable night out with loved ones in Roche Harbor.
The restaurant offers a delectable selection of fresh seafood and meat dishes taken directly from local waters and farms around the island. You can also find the perfect pairing with the award-winning wine list and selection of handcrafted cocktails. Summer evenings, in particular, are a sight to behold when the island’s history is honored with a traditional flag ceremony. Witness the cannon salute and listen to the American, British and Canadian national anthems as the sun sets for a truly unforgettable dining experience.
What to Do
The San Juan Islands are renowned across the world for its abundance of scenic natural beauty and water-based activities – and Roche Harbor is no exception. From the comfort and convenience of the marina, you can participate in whale-watching tours, take in the coastline from a kayak and enjoy nationally designated hiking trails. Along the way, you’ll witness everything from orca whales, humpback whales and sea lions to historic lime quarries and thick kelp forests.
The San Juan Islands Sculpture Park provides the opportunity to see nature and art working together in harmony. The nature reserve features 125 sculptures that are constantly rotating with new ones coming as old ones are sold. Along the cobblestone walkways and Victorian gardens, you’ll be able to stroll through family-run shops, seasonal artist tents and lovely cafes. Make sure to reserve at least one afternoon for a rejuvenating experience at one of many plush spas across town.
When it’s time to wind down, head down to the Afterglow Spa at Roche Harbor Resort. The full-service wellness center and state-of-the-art facilities are highlighted by a long list of signature relaxing treatments, making for the perfect complement to the Pacific Northwest experience. The eucalyptus steam rooms and spacious showers are favorites among guests, who follow it up with quiet moments in the fireside relaxation lounge over a cup of tea or refreshing spa water.
What to Pack
Time spent in the Pacific Northwest means that you will be outdoors a lot. We’re looking towards these Veja V10 Nautico Leather Sneakers as the perfect pair to suit you across any and all activities. The comfortable cushioned sole provides top-notch support, while the low-top silhouette and sporty Americana style will look great at all times. These Ksubi Rise n Hi Frayed Denim Shorts are a great everyday pair for roaming around the San Juan Islands in summer. Fashioned in a high-rise silhouette, the shorts are also detailed with a frayed hem and light whiskering through the thighs.
On the other side, guys can opt for these Orlebar Brown Dane Swim Shorts. The stylish pair can be worn during a waterfront dinner just as well as underwater action, so its versatility is perfect for conserving space while packing. They’re tailored in a neat long-length shape with buckles at the waist instead of a drawstring and come in a crisp white palette for a classic maritime look. Opt for the Montblanc TimeWalker Date as the wristwatch companion to take you through Roche Harbor. Paying homage to both automotive and horological traditions, the stainless steel case houses a Swiss-made caliber MB 24.17 automatic movement.