San Juan Island Ferry Tips

San Juan Island Ferry Tips

Getting to San Juan Island is Half the fun!

Using the ferry system can sometime be frustrating for people who are not familiar with the Washington State ferries.
So here are some EASY tips.

1. Make a reservation on the ferry. You need a reservation for airlines, right? Same here.

Reserve space on San Juan Island Ferry

2. Then buy your ferry ticket. If you are a ‘walk on passenger’ you do not and cannot make a reservation. Don’t forget to print it off.

Buy A San Juan Island Ferry Ticket

Tips for making a San Juan Island’s ferry reservations

* If you can’t get a reservation on your desired day or sailing, no worries, reservations are released in 3 tiers to accommodate long and short-term planning by visitors and residents. Don’t forget to print it off.

San Juan Island Ferry System

  • The first 30% are released 2 months before the start of each of the four seasonal sailing schedules, for all sailings during that season, meaning that these reservations may be available up to 5 months in advance. (Reservations for summer sailings from June 14 – Sept. 19 will be released in 6 segments beginning April 28. See Reservations through June 13 are available now.)
    The second 30% are released 2 weeks prior to the specific sailing date.
  • The third 30% are released 2 days prior to the specific sailing date.
  • Each tier release of space opens online at 7:00 a.m.
  • The remaining 10% on each sailing is set aside for emergency vehicles and customers with medical documentation.

* Arrive in line for your reserved sailing 60-90 minutes in advance of the sailing departure time due to staging requirements, and bring your printed reservation sheet with barcode for easy scanning.

* There is no extra charge for a reservation, however, to secure a reservation you must provide a debit or credit card which will only be charged ($10) if you are a ‘no show.’
(Ferry tickets are purchased separately at the Anacortes terminal or online. Tickets include a round trip.)

* There are several sailings each day to and from each of the 4 islands which almost assures that you’ll get your first, second or third choice of sailing time with a reservation.

* Reservations are available to all 4 islands from Anacortes, but only from Orcas Island and Friday Harbor/San Juan Island returning to Anacortes. Reservations are not available, or typically needed, on the inter-island ferry.

* You can make a reservation up until 3 hours prior to a sailing, provided there is space available.

* Changes and cancelations can be made within specific timeframes; please see info at

* In the event that a sailing is canceled, WA State Ferries will communicate the cancelation(s) via travel alerts to your mobile phone or email address you submitted when you made the reservation. Those who choose to travel will still be prioritized once service is reinstated. If you choose not to travel you will not be charged a ‘no-show’ fee.

Questions?  phone: 1-888-808-7977


Directions to the Anacortes ferry terminal from Seattle

  • Take I-5 north
  • Take Exit 230 to Burlington/Anacortes (or Exits 221 or 226 through scenic Skagit Valley)
  • At the first light, turn left toward Anacortes onto Highway 20 west
  • Follow Highway 20 west to Anacortes for about 16 miles
  • Once you reach Anacortes merge right into the traffic circle and another right onto Commercial Ave.
  • Take a left at 12th St,, where signs point you to the San Juan Islands ferry, and follow for about 2 miles to the terminal

Allow a comfortable 1-1/2 to 2 hours to enjoy the drive and the scenery from Seattle, or Vancouver B.C., to the Anacortes ferry terminal.