San Juan Island
The most exciting aspects of the archipelago's history have been preserved on San Juan Island (how does a near war between Britain and the US grab you?) in a couple of old military camps. It is also the island with the 'biggest' town; compact Friday Harbor acts as the archipelago's unofficial capital.
While some of the smaller San Juans are known for their standoffish 'No Trespassing' signs, Lopez – or Slow-pez as it's sometimes known – is the ultimate friendly isle where local motorists give strangers the 'Lopezian wave' (two to five fingers raised from the steering wheel) and you can leave your bike outside the village store and it'll still have both wheels when you retu.
The quietest and smallest of the four main San Juan Islands, tranquil Shaw is famous for its restrictive property laws and handsome Benedictine monastery. Here, enveloped in a pristine, tree-carpeted time warp, Catholic nuns tend to llamas, wild deer forage on deserted roadways and idyllic sandy beaches are sprinkled with rather foreboding 'no trespassing' signs.