Visitor Activities

PL-Humpback-Ingrid Taylar

Visiting San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge is an adventure!  Find out about the recreational opportunities available at the Refuge.

  • Fishing on Turn Island


    Shoreline fishing is now allowed from the public use area of Turn Island. Turn Island is the only island within San Juan Islands NWR open for fishing and is accessible only by boat. To reduce impacts to wildlife from disturbance, please stay within the areas open to public use, and please remember to Leave No Trace by disposing of fishing line and other waste appropriately. Help wildlife thrive by remaining 200 yards from closed Refuge islands.

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  • Boating

    List-SJI-Boat-David Weekly

    From car ferries to personal kayaks, there are many ways visitors may view the Refuge islands from the water.

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  • Hiking


    Trails on Matia and Turn Islands offer hikers a glimpse into the  wildlife on these islands.

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  • Wildlife Viewing

    List-Wildlife Obs-USFWS Lily Dancy-Jones

    The San Juans offer unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife. The key element to successful spotting is patience. Options to watch wildlife from land exist on trails of Matia and Turn Islands. Otherwise, visitors may observe wildlife on all other refuge islands by boat, maintaining a 200 yard buffer from the shoreline. Species to watch for include gulls, cormorants, pigeon guillemots, tufted puffins, brants, black oystercatchers, rhinoceros auklets, bald eagles, and harbor seals.

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  • Photography

    List-Wildlife Photographer-USFWS

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive. Discover ideas for taking your best shot!

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  • Camping

    List-Tent-Arup Malakar

    Campground facilities managed by Washington State Parks are available on both Matia Island and Turn Island.

  • Leave No Trace


    Leave No Trace is a national educational program to inform visitors about reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities, particularly non-motorized recreation. Leave No Trace principles and practices are based on an abiding respect for the natural world and our fellow wildland visitors. We can act on behalf of the places and wildlife that inspire us by adopting the skills and ethics that enable us to Leave No Trace.

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