In an exciting development for yacht owners, as of July 24th 2021, Washington State will start welcoming non-resident owned yachts for private cruising, meaning now is the perfect time to start planning a Washington yacht charter.
Following a process that’s taken some 15-years, non-resident entities and individually owned yachts will now be able to acquire two 60-day permits a year to stay in Washington State without tax, in addition to the 60 days they are currently allowed.
This change in legislation will help Washington State become a major cruising destination for charter yachts, joining British Columbia and Alaska. Non-resident owned charter yachts up to 200-foot in length will be able to operate in Washington, subject to use tax measured by a small percentage of the charter fee.
Among the highlights of any Washington yacht charter are the San Juan Islands, an archipelago of 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County, which offer spectacular unspoilt scenery, lively, charming towns, and a wide variety of activities, both on land and at sea.
As any charter broker will tell you, a highlight of a Washington yacht charter is the San Juan Islands.
Visit Sucia Island, and enjoy miles of lovely shoreline and unique geological formations of sculpted sandstones, best viewed from one of the island’s many hiking trails. A marine state park, Sucia Island is known for its emerald waters and forested trails, and prized by locals for its off-season beauty. On the west side, enjoy a picnic at Shallow Bay, from where there are spectacular sunset views.
In the tranquil waters off Stuart Island, only accessible by yacht, watch out for river otters and harbor seals as they swim around the island’s turquoise inlets and craggy coves, and look out for orca whales as you cruise past the lighthouse at Turn Point and the rolling cliffs known as Lovers Leap.
Roche Harbor is a favourite Washington yacht charter destination, located on the northwest side of San Juan Island. Yellow-brick roads lead to Roche Harbor Resort, an historic seaside resort that boasts a world-class marina, waterfront restaurants, arty boutiques and a full-service spa. It’s also the starting point for several nationally designated hiking trails.
Near the entrance to Roche Harbor is the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park of over 150 contemporary sculptures, created by both emerging and renowned sculptors, that are frequently rotated and set harmoniously within nature.
Also located on San Juan Island is the bustling and walkable town of Friday Harbor, teeming with small shops, galleries, restaurants and pubs, while surrounded by wild, spectacular nature. During a Washington yacht charter be sure to visit the Whale Museum, dedicated to the protection of wild whales, and then head to Westcott Bay to feast on fresh oysters.
There’s much here for art-lovers too. The San Juan Islands Museum of Art features fine visual art, much of which is produced by artists of the Salish Sea, while on display at the Arctic Raven Gallery is a collection of Northwest Coast Indian masks, prints, and wood carvings.
Friday Harbor is also a great base for excursions to the San Juan Vineyards, producer of award winning estate-grown wines, and the Pelindaba Lavender Farm, located at the centre of the island, with lake and Olympic Mountain views. Here, a wide range of lavender products are handcrafted and sold, and a July lavender festival is held.
A San Juan Islands yacht charter offers a fantastic chance to reconnect with nature, and the horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island is no exception. The largest of the San Juan Islands, it’s one of the best places for whale-watching and is also home to lush forests and pristine lakes. At Cascade Bay, visit the charming Rosario Resort for its breathtaking ocean views and fantastic waterfront restaurants.
Visit the historic village of Eastsound, with its thriving art scene, boutiques, restaurants and history museum, which presents the life stories and culture of the area’s Native American and early European-American settlers.
From the highly exclusive Lummi island, often regarded as the best-kept secret of the San Juan Islands, relax on peaceful beaches and enjoy astonishing views of the glacier-covered Mount Baker, an active volcano in the North Cascades National Park. Shop at the Saturday Summer Farmer’s Market for organically-grown fresh produce, as well as live prawns and crab, and be sure to book a table at the award-winning Willows Inn restaurant. The Northwest’s premier destination for authentic farm to table dining is known for its innovative, organic cuisine.
Seattle yacht broker Worth Avenue Yachts is a proud member of Superyacht Northwest, which helped push this exciting new bill into reality. For more details about a Washington yacht charter around the San Juan Islands and more, contact their experienced team, who will be happy to help you.