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Boating the Waters of Puget Sound – Our Time at Roche Harbor Resort

Have you been to the San Juan Islands in Washington State? One of our favorite places to visit when exploring Puget Sound on our boat is Roche Harbor Resort. Let me show you why we love this charming spot so much.

Roche Harbor resort

We take a summer boat trip around Puget Sound every year. Not only do we love being on the water and exploring new towns but going back to some of our favorite places is just as fun.

One of our very favorite destinations is Roche Harbor Resort.

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Roche Harbor website

Roche Harbor Resort

On the northwest side of San Juan Island is Roche Harbor, a historic seaside resort located in Washington State and a short drive from Friday Harbor. Roche Harbor faces Haro Strait and the Canada–United States border.

The resort offers accommodations, restaurants, gardens, stores, parks, and a marina.

view of the Roche Harbor marina

The Marina

We always come to Roche Harbor by boat and stay at the marina.

Roche Harbor marina at sunset
overlooking the Roche Harbor marina
Hotel de Haro hotel in Roche Harbor

How It All Started

According to the Roche Harbor website, John S. McMillin, a Tacoma lawyer, owned and operated the limestone quarry and lime kiln at Roche Harbor. By 1886, the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Company had been incorporated and became a large-scale business.

Hotel de Haro  in Roche Harbor

Hotel de Haro

McMillin built the 20-room Hotel de Haro in 1886. By 1890, the company town had grown up around the hotel. It consisted of a completely modern lime factory, barrel works, warehouse, docks, ships and piers, offices, company store, church, school, barns, and homes.

Hotel de Haro is the state’s oldest continually operating hotel, hosting visitors since 1886. Famous visitors include John Wayne and Theodore Roosevelt.

There are other options for an overnight stay including historic cottages, condos, and village homes.

Hotel de Haro Roche Harbor
Hotel de Haro in Roche Harbor

The formal gardens of Roche Harbor

The Gardens and Flowers Throughout Roche Harbor Resort

The formal gardens were created by Mrs.McMillin who was inspired by Mrs.Butchart of Victoria. Have you heard of Butchart Gardens? If not, you REALLY need to take a look.

The formal gardens at Roche Harbor

Slogans were painted on the arbor between the gardens to wish farewell to those who left the grounds to return home by boat from the harbor.

Japanese anemone
formal gardens in Roche Harbor
flowers in barrels

The containers are bright and beautiful throughout the resort.

flower containers in Roche Harbor
formal gardens in Roche Harbor
Roche Harbor resort

Dining Options at Roche Harbor Resort

There are three restaurants on the property that offer waterfront dining, from fine dining to casual café food.

McMillins restaurant in Roche Harbor

McMillin’s Dining Room offers fine dining and is open for dinner.

Roche Harbor resort

Madrona Bar and Grill is where we go to sit out on the deck for lunch or dinner and watch the marina activity and water view.

Roche Harbor resort

The Lime Kiln Cafe offers you a more casual dining experience. We love having breakfast here and the donuts are quite famous and fabulous!

Roche Harbor resort
Roche Harbor store

Roche Harbor Resort Shopping

Roche Harbor Market

The Resort has a grocery store which is so convenient. We tend to anchor most of the time when we’re boating in the San Juans so we always need to restock our food supply.

home decor store in Roche Harbor

Dominque’s House

This store has the cutest home goods and coastal decor.

And More…

Other places for shopping include Roche Harbor Clothing Company, a gift shop at the hotel, and village artist booths.

Roche Harbor resort and marina

Kayaking and Hiking

This is such a fun place to kayak. There are plenty of rentals, including paddleboards.

kayaking at Roche Harbor resort and marina

Our pups love kayaking with us.

kayaking at Roche Harbor resort and marina
kayaking at Roche Harbor resort and marina

The scenery around the resort is gorgeous.

Roche Harbor resort

outdoor sculpture park in Roche Harbor

Outdoor Sculpture Park

This 19-acre outdoor sculpture park is always fun to visit while we’re in Roche Harbor.

outdoor sculpture park in Roche Harbor

This is where you’ll find more than 120 unique sculptures by Northwest artists. San Juan Islands Museum of Art is the steward of this amazing park.

outdoor sculpture park in Roche Harbor
outdoor sculpture park in Roche Harbor
outdoor sculpture park in Roche Harbor

two dogs resting after running through Roche Harbor

Roche Harbor Resort Off-Leash Dog Park

It’s hard for us to find a place where the boys can run and tire themselves out while we are out on the boat for weeks at a time.

I love that Roche Harbor has an off-leash dog park for Jax and Ollie to run around and play with each other.

Afterglow Vista Mausoleum in Roche Harbor

Afterglow Vista /Mausoleum

Afterglow Vista is the final resting place of John S. McMillin and his family. The mausoleum can be found by following a trail leading through the local cemetery.

Afterglow Vista Mausoleum in Roche Harbor
Afterglow Vista Mausoleum in Roche Harbor

McMillin had a mausoleum constructed that consisted of an open-air rotunda with a limestone table and thick stone chairs in the center.

Afterglow Vista Mausoleum in Roche Harbor

I would definitely suggest you read more about the mausoleum and the symbolism behind every detail that you see here.

posing at Roche Harbor resort

I would definitely recommend this incredible Northwest spot. Roche Harbor Resort is one of those places that is always on top of our list to come back to again and again. We never get tired of it.

And don’t forget the donuts!

I’d love to hear from you. Make sure you leave a comment below.

Until next time,


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boating the waters of the Puget Sound Roche Harbor Resort

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  1. Our dream was to take the sailboat to the San Juan Islands for a month, but we didn’t make it. I enjoyed so much seeing where you went, I finally got to travel there!!! Thank you for sharing it in both instagram and your blog!

    1. I’m so sorry that you were never able to sail there. But I know you will have some amazing adventures in the near future. I can’t wait until we are able to travel to Canada again.

  2. Thank you for the beautiful pictures! It has been several years since I was there and your pictures brought back many wonderful memories! I loved San Juan Island and Roche Harbor! Thanks!

    1. I’m glad you were able to relive those memories again. We always have the best time. The San Juan Islands are such a magical place.

  3. We had the privilege of living on San Juan Island for 9 years, and keeping our boat at Roche Harbor. Your photos and accompanying descriptions are the best I’ve seen! I will definitely post this on Pinterest! Have you visited the Lime Kiln Point lighthouse? We lived in the lighthouse keepers house when my husband was a Ranger in the islands.

    1. Oh, how amazing that you lived in the lighthouse keeper’s house. I haven’t been there, I’m not sure why. I’m sure you have so many memories of those times. It’s such a special place. I’m glad you liked the post. I can’t wait to share more of our boating trips. Thanks so much for leaving a comment,

  4. Kim
    This was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I really want to visit your area again some day. I’m sharing a link to this post on my Sunday Dirt Road Adventures. Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip with us.

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