Boaters return again and again to Roche Harbor, and it doesn’t take long to understand why. The services are great, and there is so much to see and do. You can walk around the historic limestone kilns; hike the trails to the quarries above the marina; visit the historic Company Store and historic Hotel de Haro; walk the forest trail to the McMillin Family Mausoleum; visit the Sculpture Park with pieces of art along the trail; swim in the outdoor swimming pool; enjoy the cafes and fine dining restaurant; buy ice cream, donuts, and coffee from the summer vendors; purchase shellfish dockside; and Leonard’s favorite, watch the airplanes come and go from the small airstrip.
The McMillin family mausoleum.
Visitors to Roche Harbor can rent mopeds or take the dinghy to nearby English Camp in Garrison Bay, where the British established themselves during the Pig War from 1858-1872 to see the blockhouse and other military buildings from the period. Or take the dinghy to the Westcott Bay Shellfish farm for some fresh barbequed oysters.
A site we visited on this trip to Roche Harbor was a stop at the San Juan Island Distillery which sells gin, brandy, and award-winning ciders. Tastings and sales are open to the public, and we couldn’t resist purchasing our favorite Westcott Apple Cider, Traditional Dry. Apples are hand-picked from their crop of small bittersweet and bitter-sharp that are used just for cider, grafted onto dwarf stock.
The Copper Still at San Juan Distillery.
The distillery is located just under a mile west of the marina, an easy trip by bicycle or by walking the country road with no steep hills to climb. European history at Roche Harbor first began when Joe Ruff took a preemption claim on the land around Roche Harbor.