The heat caught up to us in the San Juan Islands, and we were more than happy to wake up on the cooler waters of Westcott Bay. Our trip for the day, from Westcott to Roche Harbor, was by far our shortest, which was a welcome change of pace after several longer transits. Situated near the Northwest tip of San Juan Island, in a broad and well protected harbor, Roche has long been an international port of call. Most of the buildings along the waterfront remain unchanged since they were first built in the late 19th century, their clean whitewashed paneling and distinctive hand painted signs draw the eye in against the dark fir trees on the hills behind. Cruising toward the docks, it was easy to imagine the relief sailors of old must have felt as they made this final welcome approach after weeks at sea.
With the flotilla moored, and most of the day to spare, the crews got their first chance of the day to explore on their own. In addition to several restaurants, the Hotel de Haro (built in 1900) offered dining and resort options for those looking to relax. A grassy promenade wrapping around the harbor offered bocce ball and tennis, with beautiful views over the water. For over a century, Roche Harbor was a major port for shipping lime and cement quarried on the island. That history is still displayed prominently and self-guided tours of the kilns, generator room, and rails are an easy walk from the docks. On such a hot day there was one real interest that everyone seemed to share: ice cream. The ice cream at the country market is locally made, featuring seasonal northwest fruits, and is a real local favorite. Sitting on the boardwalk with a scoop of marionberry or wild mint ice cream, watching boaters come and go, you could slip out of time, and see why this harbor has been a classic summer destination for over one hundred years.
P.S. Missed this year’s Princess Louisa Flotilla? Not to worry, there’s always next year! Send us an email to reserve your spot on our 2022 Princess Louisa Flotilla.