Think of Miami Beach. The San Juan Islands, an archipelago straddling the U.S.-Canada border, are nothing like that. Best reached by seaplane from Seattle or ferry from Anacortes, the islands have more misty coves and pods of Orcas than you can shake a totem pole at. Orcas Island, San Juan Island, and Lopez Island are prime spots to find rental homes fronting sandy beaches and rocky shorelines (hint: the rental home parlance stating "filtered water views" means the views are somewhat obstructed by trees). The weather is pretty much perfect in July and August, with temps rarely exceeding 80 degrees. And while you have to be a hardy type to spend much time swimming in the icy ocean here, there are tons of other activities that include sea kayaking, biking the San Juan Islands Scenic Byways, and scuba diving eerie kelp forests.
Credit: John Elk / Getty Images
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