Inter Island Ferry San Juan Islands Explained

Lopez Island Inter-Island Ferry The Edenwild Inn

Traveling between the islands on the inter island ferries is a different experience than your ferry ride from the mainland. The inner island ferry is smaller than the Anacortes boat, but it still takes cars, walk-on passengers, and bicyclists. It helps islanders and tourists more easily travel between islands. Many of our guests choose to make Edenwild and Lopez Island their “home island” and do day trips aboard the inter island ferry to the other San Juan Islands. Learn more about planning a getaway from Seattle to Lopez Island here. Let’s go over interisland ferry travel and the island hopping vacation experience!

Catching an Interisland Ferry from Lopez Island

First off, you won’t need a reservation to ride on the interisland ferry. There are multiple sailings each day to and from all the different islands, and you can find the schedule here. Car passengers must buy a ticket at the Lopez Island terminal to head to any of the other islands. Your return trip does not require a return ticket to Lopez and is always free. Foot passengers and bicyclists do not pay to travel aboard the interisland ferry and do not need a ticket. Car travelers will get in the special line at the Lopez Ferry Landing that is marked with the island you would like to travel to.

Driving on the Interisland Ferry

Park first and then go to the ferry terminal booth to get your ticket from the worker or simply use the kiosk machine to do it. If you are using the machine, make sure you select “San Juans / Inter-Island.” See the image below. If you are a walk-on passenger or a bicyclist, just wait at the bottom of the landing as you don’t need a ticket. 

inner island ferry
inner island ferry

Interisland Ferry Schedule

From Lopez Island, you can travel to Shaw, Orcas, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in that order. When you check the schedule, you will notice that sometimes the inter island ferry San Juan Islands will stop at all the islands or will be a direct boat from Lopez to the island you would like to go to. A Shaw Island sailing takes about 20 minutes from Lopez. It takes about 15 minutes to sail to Orcas island directly or about 35 minutes if it stops at Shaw on the way. A direct boat from Lopez to Friday Harbor takes 30 minutes but over 2 hours when it stops at the other island along the way.

San Juan islands interisland ferry
Traveling between this island is the most scenic ferry ride in the world. Walk on passengers are always free.

While this might seem like a lot of time traveling, we encourage you to think about it as one of the cheapest and most beautiful boat tours you will ever take. Hit the sundeck on the top floor of the boat or pick a window seat inside and take in stunning views, you might even see the Orcas whales!

Things to See in the San Juan Islands

If you want to spend the day in the town of Friday Harbor, we encourage you to leave your car at the Lopez Island Ferry terminal and walk on the ferry for free. If there are no spaces in the parking lot, just park on the side of the road above the ferry landing in the direction of Lopez Village. Friday harbor has plenty to do from the Whale Museum to shops and dozens of restaurants.

Taking the inter island to Orcas

Orcas Island also has many wonderful places to see and things to do, but you will need to take your car. The first major village on Orcas is a 20 minute car ride from the ferry landing. We recommend visiting the village of Eastsound and Moran State Park during your visit. You can drive to the top of Mt. Constitution and see a stunning view of all the islands.

The Island Less Travelled, Shaw

Shaw Island is the smallest and most secluded of the San Juan Islands. We think Shaw is a hidden gem for bicyclists, but we recommend that you pack a lunch as there’s only one shop that is rarely open. There is a Benedict Monastery on the island and the nuns sometimes have cheese for sale on their working farm.

The Edenwild Inn

We hope you make Lopez Island your home island for the perfect island hopping adventure in the San Juan Islands. If you do please consider the Edenwild for lodging option.


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