I rattled off my order at the cafe and the owner just stared back at me, silent, with both salt and pepper eyebrows raised toward the espresso scented ceiling. It was like I had spoken in a language he didn’t understand, though we both spoke English.
“I’m going to need that again. Slower this time.”
And, I laughed.
It was my third day on the island and I thought I had the whole chillin’ thing down. But I wasn’t going to fool a San Juan Island local, even one who ran a bustling cafe right by the ferry landing.
I wasn’t catching a ferry and I certainly wasn’t on my lunch break at work. What’s the rush? Well, I’m used to it.
A four-hour drive, then an hour ferry wait followed by an hour ferry ride, took us to not to another part of Washington—the journey took us to another world. I had many recommendations to go check out the islands. And though I’ve wanted to for a few years, other trips were prioritized.
It’s not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away. Any time a ferry is toting your car across a large body of water, it can seem like a lot of work when you’re craving a relaxing getaway.
The islands are such a down tempo place that it seems like there isn’t anything to do. And it’s pretty typical for a Portland city girl like yours truly to shy away from that kind of isolation.
On top of that, spring is the off-season in the San Juan Islands. Restaurants are closed, bakeries operate at funky hours, and the sidewalks are there for the taking. Summer water sports aren’t happening, because it’s too cold. The families are off in warmer climates for spring break. The tourists are few and far between.
But that’s where the experience becomes even more brilliant. You get the place all to yourself, and you get to soak in all the things you didn’t know you needed.
Sometimes you need nothing more than to get away from it all.
Sometimes you need to detach from the busy world you’ve become accustomed to.
Sometimes you need to bundle up with a really fantastic book.
Sometimes you need to find your balance when you think you’ve lost it.
Sometimes you need to pause and take it all in.
Sometimes you need to notice how effing cute alpacas are.
Sometimes you need to concentrate on each other.
Sometimes you need to take a break on your hike.
Sometimes you need to realize there are other couples just like you.
Sometimes you need to go to the end of the earth to understand how small you are.
Sometimes you need to go to a place where time moves at a different speed—where you can be with nature, yourself, and perhaps someone you love more than anything. Rushing isn’t allowed, because it doesn’t exist. There’s nowhere else to go, but right here.
San Juan Island isn’t the kind of travel destination that dazzles you with things to do. It’s a place that unapologetically teaches you to slow down and embrace doing absolutely nothing.
Have you ever been to the San Juan Islands? Or another place that invited you to slow down?
45 thoughts on “Slower This Time on San Juan Island”
Never been, but it looks so calming! How cosy is that “reading nook” of yours! Love it. 😀
Also – I like how unapologetically unabashed Chad and Laura are, haha.
My reading nook involved MANY layers to make it work on that deck! Pajamas, robe, and a blankie. 🙂
Chad and Laura are a hoot!
Haven’t been to San Juan islands… definitely need to next spring, then! (planning an 8-day vacation to Tenerife, though, Canaries Islands in 2 weeks).
The other place that invited us to relax and do nothing was Punta del Diablo in Uruguay: off-season, not much to see and do, except just that, relax, take it easy and enjoy.
Well, you know if you come up to the Northwest that we TOTALLY need to hang out! I used to steer away from places without “things to do” but I’ve been learning to embrace relaxation a lot more these past few years.
Can’t wait to hear about your vacay!
Will most certainly give you a shout out as soon as we plan to go back to Oregon and Washington states.
Meanwhile, we just enjoy our time together, movies and vacation.
Enjoy the relaxing moments too!
Looks brilliant Britt. Just the right antidote to city living, but only if you allow the inner peace to happen. Which you clearly did.
A couple of our smaller Channel Islands would do the trick too. On Sark the only transport is horse-drawn, or bicycle (apart from the doctor’s car). Herm is so small that is has no roads, just a hotel 🙂
Antidote indeed! We are lucky to have a forest within a mile of our city apartment, so I can’t complain. I make it a point to get up there every weekend for a hike.
I’m sure there are many gems in your neck of the woods. 🙂
I would love that place! I’m so glad you took the time to do that. We all need to unwind somewhere close to nature, methinks!
San Juan Islands are glorious! Nature has a way of helping us unwind even when we don’t think we can. It took me a couple of days to let the real world go, but when I did, it was like…aaaaah. 😉
Wonderful! For many years, The Mister and I would vacation alone on Sanibel Island. We’d ditch the children with my parents and hole up in a cottage on the beach. Dreamy.
We probably won’t get to do that any time soon but somedays will come 🙂
It’s the perfect romantic getaway, isn’t it? We love traveling to cities as well, but it was great to really focus on each other.
Yes, it looked dreamy. Made me yearn for a short getaway! 🙂 We’ll be trying to plan accordingly, so I thank you for the reminder and the inspiration!
Sure thing! We had to basically make ourselves do it, because life gets so hectic…it’s easy to just keep grinding. The off-season made it nice and cheap too! 🙂
Wow, looks and sounds wonderful Britt, I’m glad you had the chance to get away from it all and relax 🙂
It was super awesome, Andrea doll! Important for us to take good break from time to time.
Looks Divine Britt and when you mentioned no people EVEN BETTER!. Off peak is my kind of wonderful. Chuckled at the visitors book, ah to be young again and full of cheek! Now I feel like going on a holiday.
Guest books never fail to entertain me, and that couple wrote a winning story! You should go on a holiday, somewhere with absolutely no people. 😉
Gorgeous photos! I went here as a child and you’ve brought back so many memories.
That’s awesome, Letizia doll! San Juan Island is certainly one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in the U.S.
[…] that get icky as your feet overheat. Mr. H and I bought alpaca socks last March when we visited San Juan Islands. I had never spent $25 on a pair of socks in my life, but they are the […]