San Juan Islands Washington
Island Dive and Water Sports
Island Dive FAQ's

Nitrox fills


Diving events and trips


Friday Harbor weather


Travel to the San Juan Islands

Photos on this page by Chris Teren

  1. What can I expect to see diving in the San Juan Islands?
  2. Where are the San Juan Islands and how do I get there?
  3. When is the best time to come diving in the San Juans?
  4. What is the weather like in the San Juans?
  5. Tell me about your dive trips. How much does it cost to go on a boat dive?
  6. What kinds of boats are available for dive trips? How many divers can go?
  7. What is the water temperature and visibility in the San Juan Islands?
  8. I've never been diving in cold water; how do I prepare?
  9. If I don't bring my own gear, can I rent from Island Dive & Water Sports?
  10. Do you offer air fills? Nitrox?
  11. Can you accommodate larger groups? What are your group rates?
  12. What if I bring family or other companions who are non-divers, what's available for them to do?
  13. What choices do I have for accommodations?
  14. How can Island Dive & Water Sports help me with travel to the Islands?
  15. I want to learn to dive. What are my choices?
  16. I am a certified diver, but haven't been diving in a while, how can I brush up on my skills?
  17. Can I go snorkeling in the San Juan Islands?
  18. What kind of advanced training is offered by Island Dive & Water Sports?
  19. What if I am diving from my own boat? What services do you offer?

1. What can I expect to see diving in the San Juan Islands?
The San Juan Islands have some of the most spectacular diving in the world. The waters surrounding the islands are rich in marine life including the giant octopus, fish ranging from the fierce looking ling cod to the cute grunt sculpin to the gnarly wolf eel; as well as colorful crabs, anemones, corals, sponges, sea cucumbers, starfish, nudibranchs, and much more. Our dives sites include steep walls, rocky reefs, and rock pinnacles - all carpeted with marine life. And we have two outstanding wrecks just across the border in Canada (bring your passport): the MacKenzie and the GB Church, both of which are part of Canada's artificial reef program. Check out our Photo Gallery, which will give you a better idea of what you can see.

2. Where are the San Juan Islands and how do I get there?
The San Juans are an archipelago with 178 named islands located in the northwestern corner of the United States, just across the border from Victoria, BC in Canada. The islands are reachable only by boat or plane, but getting here is relatively easy.

By car: Drive an hour and a half north from Seattle, WA to Anacortes, WA, which to the ferry landing on the west side of town. Just watch for the signs; it's easy to find. Then take the ferry to San Juan Island. You don't need a car on the Islands. We're only a short walk from the ferry landing and the island has a bus shuttle and taxi services. Check the ferry schdules at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/.

By plane: Fly to SeaTac Airport (SEA) in Seattle, WA. Then meet the San Juan Airlines shuttle, which will take you to Boeing Field for the short flight from Seattle to San Juan Island. San Juan Airlines: 1-800-690-0086 or www.sanjuanairlines.com.

By seaplane: From Seattle, take Kenmore Air from Lake Union in downtown Seattle to Friday Harbor. Call 1-800-543-9595 or check out their website at www.kenmoreair.com.

By passenger ferry: From May-October, the San Juan Islands are served by passenger ferry from downtown Seattle, Port Townsend, Bellingham, or Anacortes, WA and Victoria, BC

To make it easier, call us at 800-303-8386 and we can arrange all your travel for you.

3. When's the best time to come diving in the San Juans?
Anytime! We dive year round in the San Juan Islands. The best time for serious diving is spring and fall, especially the latter, when the weather is usually good and the visibility the best. Because the water temperature is relatively constant, winter diving is also good. The weather can be unpredicatable but typically is very mild. The waters inside the archipelago are usually well protected and the visibility is excellent. Summer, of course, is also a great time to come. This is when the weather is best, with long days, though visibility may be somewhat reduced.

4. What is the weather like in the San Juans?
The San Juan Islands enjoy a mild, almost Mediterranean climate. The Islands are located in the rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains, and thus, get about one-third to one-half the rainfall that Seattle gets. This also means that we have a lot more sunny days, even in the winter wet season. For example, we dove on New Years Eve on a beautiful sunny day. But to be more specific, spring can vary from sunny and warm to rainy and cool - in the same day. So bring a jacket. Summer is usually warm and dry with highs ranging from 75 to 80F (24-27C). Fall often has the best weather, and the crowds are gone. The winter wet season starts in November with blustery storms, but temperatures are mild with lows rarely dipping below freezing and highs ranging from 45 to 50F (7-10C).

5. Tell me about your dive trips. How much does it cost to go on a boat dive?
Our standard dive trip is a 2-tank trip departing everyday. These trips typically last about 3-4 hours and cost $US 75, which includes tanks, weights, snacks, and beverages. Departures from Anacortes can be arranged for a groups of eight or more. Dive sites are determined by weather and current conditions at the time of the dive. We typically depart between 9 and 10 am in the morning, and offer afternoon departures if needed. Single tank twilight and night dives are scheduled every other Friday with a minimum of four paid divers. Cost is $55 which includes tanks and weights. We can also schedule night dives as requested with a minimum of four paid divers.

We also offer Adventure Dive trips which go to the more remote and distant sites in the outer straits surrounding the San Juans. These are for experienced divers, and cost $US 110, which includes tanks, weights, snacks and beverages. Departures are from Friday Harbor or Anacortes (for groupsof 8 or more). And we offer BC Wreck Dive trips to dive on the MacKenzie and GB Church just across the border in Canada for $US 110, which includes tanks, weights, snacks and beverages. Departures are from Friday Harbor only. We can also put together custom dive trips to the waters of the San Juans, Canadian Gulf Islands, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Strait of Georgia. Be sure to call ahead for pricing and scheduling as some of these trips must be prebooked. (Canadian trips may require a passport) See the Rates page for more details.

6. What kinds of boats are available for dive trips? How many divers can go?
We have a custom dive boat manufactured by Canaveral. It features open transoms with big swim steps for easy entry and exit, private heads, and forward cabins to keep gear dry. We stock hot water, beverages, snacks, and a full compliment of safety gear on board.
The 38' (11.5m) San Juan Diver has room for up to 18 divers.

7. What is the water temperature and visibility in the San Juan Islands?
The water temperature stays relatively constant throughout the year, ranging from about 50-54F (10-12C). The visibility, however, does vary through the year, ranging from 20-30' (6-9m) in late spring and summer, and 40-80' (12-24m) from fall through early spring

8. I've never been diving in cold water; how do I prepare?
With the right equipment and preparation, you can dive very comfortably through out the year in the San Juans. A 7mm farmer john style wetsuit or, better, a drysuit will keep you warm. You can rent either from both of our locations; however, renting a drysuit requires proper training on their use, which we offer at both locations. Wearing either type of suit requires the use of much more weight than when diving in the tropics. Consequently, managing your buoyancy is a bit more of a challenge. So if you have never been diving in cold water, we recommend our Open Water Refresher or NW Scuba Tune Up during which we will tune your buoyancy and help you practice skills in a supervised, confined water session. If you would like to try a dry suit, we also offer a Dry Suit Orientation Class and a PADI Dry Suit Certification Class

9. If I don't bring my own gear, can I rent from Island Dive & Water Sports?
IDWS offers a full complement of top-of-the-line rental equipment including dry suits, wetsuits, regulators with gauges and safe second, computers, snorkeling gear, tanks, and Nitrox tanks. See the Rentals page for rates and more details.

10. Do you offer air fills? Nitrox?
Air fills are available for $7.00 per tank, or use your air fill card, which provides 12 fills for $65. We provide Nitrox standard 32% and can blend custom percentages at your request. We also fill Semi-Closed and Closed Rebreathers. Argon is also available. For you technical divers, Tri-mix is available with notice.

11. Can you accommodate larger groups? What are your group rates?
We can handle groups of up to 18 divers for a day of diving or a full dive package that includes accommodations, transportation, etc. We provide a 10% discount off our prices for boat dives to groups of seven divers or more. We can arrange group accommodations in multi-bedroom suites, condos, or even rental houses. We can also arrange catered group meals as well as meeting or conference space.

12. What if I bring family or other companions who are non-divers, what's available for them to do?
There are a variety of other activities for both divers and non-divers on San Juan Island. These include sea kayaking, snorkeling, whale watching, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, sailing, shopping, or just relaxing. There are plenty of parks and beaches plus other interesting sites such as the Whale Museum.

13. What choices do I have for accommodations?
The San Juans have a full range of accommodations available year round including quiet B&Bs, comfortable hotels, luxurious inns, and full-service resorts. You can get a room, a single or multi-bedroom suite or even a complete house. Rates are higher during the peak summer season, but can be a real bargain fall through spring. Give us a call at 800-303-8386 to arrange accommodations.

14. How can Island Dive & Water Sports help me with travel to the Islands?
We can arrange your entire trip including travel to and from the islands, accommodations while here, transportation on the islands, other activities such as whale watching and sea kayaking, and of, course great diving. We offer a variety of standard packages from one night to one week in length, and can arrange a package that fits your specific needs. Check out our dive packages, or give us a call at 800-303-8386.

15. I want to learn to dive. What are my choices?
To dive safely you need to become be certified by one of the recognized instructional agencies, such as PADI. Becoming certified is easy. If you are at least 12 years of age and physically able to dive, you take our PADI Open Water Class. The class includes five knowledge development sessions that can be self-studied on CD or video; skill development sessions in the pool, and four scuba dives in open water.

We offer several options to complete the class and become certified. First, you can enroll in one of the group classes offered once a month or so at either location. Second, you can learn to dive in a 3-day weekend. And finally, you can learn in a private or semi-private class that is arranged to meet your schedule. Just call us at 800-303-8386 to discuss further. See the Instruction page for more details

16. I am a certified diver, but haven't been diving in a while, how can I brush up on my skills?
We offer a variety of programs to get you back into the water safely and comfortably. If you haven't been diving for six months or longer, we recommend that you take our Scuba Refresher Class, which is a 2-3 hour pool session during which we review your scuba skills. This is a perfect way to prepare or your winter diving trip to the tropics. If you haven't been diving for a while or have never been diving in cold water, we recommend that you take our NW Scuba Tune-Up or Open Water Refresher. In the Tune-Up, which takes 3-4 hours, you learn to manage your buoyancy more effectively and practice skills in a supervised, confined water session. In the Open Water Refresher, which takes about a day, you first review skills in a 2-3 hour pool session, then work on buoyancy and practice skills in a supervised, confined water session. See the Instruction page for more details.

17. What kind of advanced training is offered by Island Dive & Water Sports?
IDWS offers a full range of advanced training including the PADI Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Dive Master, and Assistant Instructor, as well as a variety of Specialty Courses including Wreck Diving, Dry Suit, Nitrox, Medic First Aid, DAN O/2, Navigation, and more. These courses are regularly scheduled throughout the year or can be arranged to meet your schedule. See the Instruction page for more details.

18. Can I go snorkeling in the San Juan Islands?
In a word - Yes, the shallow waters surrounding the islands, called the intertidal zone, are full of colorful and curious marine life. All you will need is mask, fins, snorkel, and wetsuit (which you can rent from us). You can snorkel anytime conditions allow, but it's best during the slack water at low tide

19. What if I am diving from my own boat? What services do you offer?
If you're diving from your own boat, we can help you with up-to-date information, air or Nitrox fills, rental equipment, and anything that you might have forgotten or dropped overboard. You can moor your boat at our dock at Spring Street Landing (just south of the fuel dock) to get air and resupply. Overnight moorage is available for one boat up to 40' (12m). Call us at 800-303-8386 for more details.