The most exciting aspects of the archipelago's history – how does a near war between Britain and the US grab you? – have been preserved on San Juan Island in a couple of old military camps. San Juan is also the island with the 'biggest' town; compact Friday Harbor acts as the archipelago's unofficial capital. Other highlights include sheltered Roche Harbor and blustery Lime Kiln Point State Park, where you can whale-watch from the shoreline overlooking deep Haro Strait. Of all the San Juan Islands, this is the most developed, and it has a decidedly posh feeling.
The ferry terminal is at Friday Harbor, on the island's eastern side. The main route south from here is Cattle Point Rd, while Beaverton Valley Rd heads to the west coast. To get to Roche Harbor, take 2nd St to Guard St, then turn right on Tucker Ave; from there it's a 10-mile drive to the resort.