This is the Catalina Island of Washington State, but better. You can’t fly in the Pacific Northwest without at least one stop at this destination. At under an hour flight time from Seattle this makes the perfect weekend getaway or a quick sight-seeing trip with friends and family.
If you are flying up on a beautiful summer afternoon, 50 other pilots are likely doing the same thing. To make matters worse, the CTAF frequency is shared among all airports in the San Juan Islands so keep your ears peeled for what radio calls are at what location. Flight following with Whidbey is highly recommended as traffic can be dense along the north-south corridor just west of Whidbey NAS.
Runway 16 is prefered in calm wind and residents request you comply with published noise abatement procedures, especially at night. Transient parking is located at the northeast corner of the field. Access the tie-downs by crossing the north end of the runway from west to east. This is a one-way taxiway so when you depart be sure to follow the painted arrows guiding you around the north end of the field back to the runway. Bring your own tie-downs because many spots lack ropes and the ground slopes to the south. Exit the ramp through a gate at the north end and make note of the gate code to get back in. Hourly parking is free but overnight stays incur a small fee that can be paid in a box by the gate.
What to Do
Friday Harbor is a recreation paradise. One of the best features of the airport is that you can easily walk downtown from the airport (about 3/4 mile). Downtown has many boutique shops and restaurants. You can charter boats for fishing or whale watching, tour the island parks by bicycle, kayak the scenic shoreline or just chill at a bed & breakfast.
Where to Eat
Many options are available along the main street and down by the ferry dock. I have tried several and found all to be average quality or above. Most feature local seafood though there is also Mexican and Chinese if that strikes your fancy. On a warm summer day don’t pass up the ice cream shop by the ferry dock. My personal favorite is the San Juan Bakery located just outside the airport fence. Get some fresh bread, pastries or pizza to go and enjoy at home.