Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, Washington
Friday Harbor is located on the eastern side of San Juan Island, the second largest island in the San Juan Islands group. It fronts a natural, protected harbor and is now one of the main commercial centers for the islands.
Originally, this and many other San Juan Islands were temporary summer fish camps for the Coast Salish. Utilizing cedar canoes, they would travel to key locations such as San Juan Island and set up camp to capture and preserve salmon traveling to their spawning grounds from the open ocean. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is the main thoroughfare from the Pacific Ocean to the Salish Sea, making San Juan Island an ideal location to capture salmon. The Lummi, a Coast Salish people, lived on San Juan Island but were relocated to Orcas Island and then to a reservation at Gooseberry Point on the mainland north of Bellingham. Spanish explorers named some of the islands and waterways in this area, but the British and Americans were the primary non-native settlers on San Juan Island, providing colorful accounts of their experiences.
Ship navigators would refer to this protected harbor after its first settler, Joe Friday, and the name stuck – “Friday’s Harbor.” One local legend, however, tells of how the harbor got its name through a misunderstanding of the question, “What bay is this?" misinterpreted as, “What day is this?" However it got its name, Friday Harbor was incorporated in 1909, and is now the county seat for the islands. It is a small, charming community with public access via Washington State Ferries and floatplanes.
The public marina is home port to a multitude of yachts, sailboats, and whale watching charter boats. A 5-minute walk uphill from the marina or ferry landing brings you into the heart of town and a variety of boutiques, galleries, gift shops, and the ever-essential and practical grocery and hardware stores. You can even find every possible kind of salsa and hot sauce made and known to humankind in one of the shops! Entertainment includes the naming of some of these sauces. This is not an activity for the faint of heart.