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The San Juan Islands are real islands, real close. They are located in the Salish Sea between three great cities and two countries: Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria. Accessible by Washington State Ferries or by air, Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands have been luring explorers and visitors with their natural beauty since they were first discovered.

Say "San Juan Islands" and images of ferry boats slipping between emerald isles beneath a deep blue sky with the white-capped peak of Mount Baker in the distance will likely form in one's mind. And they should. San Juan County, with more than 408 miles of rocky and sandy waterfront, boasts more shoreline than any other county in the nation.

Destination: San Juan Islands
The San Juan Archipelago, which includes the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, comprises more than 700 islands and reefs; about 176 of the islands in San Juan County are large enough to be named. San Juan County's geology, carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, varies from flat farmland to small mountains. Below the sea's surface, channels plunge to depths of up to 1,000 feet.

About 15,500 people reside in San Juan County. These residents are as diverse as the land they call home: Islanders are actors, alpaca ranchers, artisans, farmers, fishermen, loggers, movie producers, pilots, shopkeepers and writers. These folks add to the islands' unique character. Much of the commercial activity in San Juan County takes place in Lopez Village on Lopez Island, Eastsound on Orcas Island, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Several hamlets and a few resorts also provide goods.

"In the lower reaches of Puget Sound, looking out through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, toward the Olympic Mountains and lands of romance on the chief trade routes of the world's future commerce, lies a land unique and apart from anything else in the Western Hemisphere - the San Juan Islands. Unique in charm and beauty, in easy, agreeable living conditions, in healthfulness; unique in the fact that it is an entire county of sea and land, of islands and inlets, 172 in number; varying in size from 58 square miles to the area of a city lot. Of all the islands, Orcas Island is the most picturesque . . . it is a wonderful place in which to forget one's troubles and worries and get back to Nature in her happiest moods; a delightful place in which to regain health - physical, mental and spiritual." Robert Moran, from the 1932 Rosario Prospectus "Rosario: An Estate in the Pacific Northwest"