Earthbox Inn is an Oasis on San Juan Island

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Guest writer Lace Thornberg stayed at Earthbox Inn and Spa in Friday Harbor and wanted to share her cool find with you.

I’ll happily pitch a tent almost anywhere when I am sleeping outside. But when it comes to indoor accommodations, I can be a hard person to please.

Too many bed and breakfasts go crazy with floral prints, or cabin themes, or what have you. Go corporate and you can get stuck under a terrible watercolor painting – eck! My preferred establishments are definitely clean-lined modern affairs, but if it is too posh, I end up feeling indulgent and guilty. Hard to please – see what I mean?

So there I was, planning a weekend trip with my honey to San Juan Island, when I stumbled upon Earthbox Inn and Spa. “Carbonfree Travel,” it said on their website. Convenient location. Free bikes. No floral patterns in sight.  I decided we’d try it.

Earthbox is located just three blocks up the road from the Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal. As such, we saw no need to drive on to the ferry, figuring that if and when we wanted to explore further, we’d bike or take a taxi. Plus, this saved us a bundle of cash.

First things first. Those jewel-toned pedal cruisers you see on their website, free for guests to use – they’re really there. And, they are oh so much fun to ride! After a bike romp around the town, you can pour yourself a drink at the bar in your room. Perfect! Or, if you prefer to have you happy hour out and about, the Earthbox Inn is within walking/biking distance of Friday Harbor’s many bars and restaurants. (Check out our San Juan Island Trip Guide for suggestions).

Now about those modern rooms. A rather sizable bed filled much of our room, and it was worth every inch. Lying down in this bed was like being absorbed in a cloud of softness. I was tired. It was perfect. It may well be the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. This is decidedly different from camping, I thought.

One of the things I like most about earth-friendly Earthbox is that it’s a revamped old motel for today’s savvy travelers. Motel recycling, if you will.  Our modern room’s past life as a run-of-the mill motel room was almost unnoticeable – almost. The bathroom was small enough to give one a claustrophobic pause. And to reach the central pool house, you have to cross through the parking lot. Wait – did I mention the indoor poolhouse? A motel rarity in the Pacific Northwest, Earthbox boasts a basic but enjoyable heated indoor pool and jacuzzi, sauna, and weightroom. (At least, I think there was a weightroom, but I can’t be certain. That would be exercise, and I was here to relax.)

Then again, with the great robes Earthbox gives you to snuggle up in, you’ll soon forget your treacherous crossing of the parking lot to get to the toasty sauna. And, the exceptional bath products they provide you with – healthy herbals made of quinoa, amaranth, and flax – help make up for the smaller bathroom.

All in all, Earthbox Inn and Spa was a a fine find and great value for our rainy weekend on San Juan Island.

Details: Rooms at the Earthbox Inn are generally $150- $200, but look for specials. Online at or call 1-800-793-4756.


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53 Responses

  1. I haven’t been to Friday Harbor in almost 20 years and I love it there! The San Juan’s are beautiful, spiritually inspiring and a wonderful place to relax and rejuvenate. It’s about time I head that way again!


  2. The San Juans have been on my list forever!!! As a native Oregonian it is amazing I have never been there. I bought the Lonely Planet book about five years ago, time to put that to use! We love to bike and kayak, so is there a more perfect place?

  3. Although I claim the beautiful Wenatchee Valley as home, I would love to find Sanctuary in the San Juan Islands. It has been over a decade since my last visit.

    I love this blog!


  4. The last two years of my life have been incredibly hectic running a campaign to pass a library bond for our community library (which we did!), moving the library to a smaller, temporary location (for eight months); creating and remodeling our old location and then moving back & opening a beautiful 6000 sq ft building to our community. I also had a senior in high school who just left for college. Worth every moment of both journeys, but it has left little time to relax and it would be wonderful to do just that!

  5. Part of the reason I just relocated from So Cal to Seattle was because of the San Juan Islands, actually. They looked so beautiful and serene and made me long to be in the PNW. I haven’t made it out to them yet, but this would be a great reason why to put a RUSH on my first trip!

  6. I love Island hopping,enjoying all the little shops along the a business owner it is difficult to find time to do the things we live for… Would love to visit in the fall I bet it is beuatiful..We usually stay at lopez, Oden park in the spring camping with a bunch of friends. Once we ventured out and stayed in the train in the field, what a nice relief from the April rain.
    Owner of the Train in the Field was great took the kids around to feed all the animals in the morning.. When arriving found home made Banana bread in frig. Yummm
    Have never stayed in Friday Harbor would love to spend more time on the Island, Love watching all the fox’s out on the beach fun place just to set and watch people,animals and the ocean..
    If you never been you need to put it on your bucket list of amazing places..
    Can’t wait to visit Islands again in the future, thank you!

  7. Looks great! My brother just moved to Friday Harbor and this would be great place to stay when we visit. My daughter will love the indoor pool.

  8. When I came to the NW 20+ years ago I fell in love with the islands on the Tri Island Bike Trek-it is what sold me on the Northwest. I was back too briefly this summer for a whale watch and just got enough of a taste to want more, especially now that the tourist season has slowed down.

  9. I’ve always loved Friday Harbor because the Island has many memories. The lavendar farm, the whales, and the ferries in the fog. Fun times. The motel sounds very lovely and I’d be happy to spend a night there.

  10. I would love to visit San Juan Island again, and eat dinner at the Duck Soup Inn. A friend of mine started it years ago, and it would be very nostalgic to be on the Island, and go there again.

  11. I would love the opportunity to enjoy San Juan Island “carbon free”. What a brilliant amenity to an overnight stay! This concept is a great model for society – I would look forward to pedaling around the island, to appreciate its natural environments – including the folks that are fortunate to live there!
    Thank you !

  12. My daughter is a senior in college in Tacoma. She was working on her research grant throughout the summer and wasn’t able to fly home. We vowed to go on a girls-getaway during her senior year….what a compliment to have your daughter say “Mom, let’s get away for a few days and catch up”. We stayed on San Juan Island for a week after she finished her 5th grade report on Washington State and have loved WA ever since. We hope to travel to the San Juans again, as adults, and make new memories on the islands. What better place than the Earthbox Motel?

  13. friday harbor is beautiful. love discovering new places to stay and supporting businesses who do things well.

  14. We are in the middle of launching a business in the worst economy of my lifetime and the stress level is sometimes through the roof. Taking a night off in Friday Harbor to recharge would be absolutely magnificent.

  15. I have never been to San Juan Island and would love a night away! Could not think of a better getaway! Thanks!

  16. Coz, like everyone else, it’s been too long since we’ve been up that way. And now that the high season is over, it’s a PERFECT time to go.

  17. Did you ride an orange or a purple bicycle!? This was my first question to my girlfriend and her significant other the moment i heard that they had stayed at Earthbox. I had been planning a visit to the San Juans that ended up turning into a day trip instead of an overnighter but my research on accomadations had led me to the websight for Earthbox. The modern chic rooms with affordable prices were one draw but the promise of a nothing less then whimsical and purely joyful experience of piloting a cruiser style, purple or orange bicycle around the island had put Earthbox on the top of my list for where I would like to stay.
    I personally find a bit of charm in such areas of Americanna as hotels that inspire Hitchcock images and gas station coffee that is best drank with heavy utilization of the free flavored creamers that can magically take a 48 hour slowcooker brew and turn it into something caffeinated that tastes like a doughnut, sadly, my Swedish born and raised significant other does not share the same sentiments. This is why the Earthbox would be a perfect get away for us. We pedal away into the sunset and lo and behold the Scandanavian smiles and I have one very strong thought coursing through my mind, I heart the Northwest.

  18. Although I have lived in western Washington for most of my life, I have not yet visited the San Jaun Islands. I would love to take my family up there.

  19. My husband and I have told each other that we’ll do a little get-away for our anniversary for years, but the last time we managed it was 5 years ago, just before our daughter was born… we just can’t justify the expense any more.

  20. I’ve lived in Seattle for 20 years now and am embarrassed to say I’ve never been to the San Juan Islands – think it’s high time!

  21. A getaway on San Juan Island is one of my favorites because it always starts with “ferry therapy.” You know, the transformation that occurs when you must stop everything for the length of a ferry ride and just enjoy the moment.

  22. I haven’t been to Friday Harbor in probably 10 years…. loved it when I went with a bunch of girlfriends and would love to visit with my husband. The San Juans are gorgeous in the Spring and I’ll just bet they’re pretty spectacular in the Fall as well. Besides that, I think Lace did a fine job of reviewing this hotel and I’d like to see how spot on she was.

  23. Even though I’ve lived in the Pacific NW for 18 years, I have never set foot upon San Juan Island. What is wrong with me?!

  24. I have always wanted to visit Friday Harbor, but have not been able to so far. I absolutely love the San Juans and would love an excuse to get back there!

  25. My husband and I were just talking about trying to find time for an overnight over there and doing a whale watch tour. Haven’t been to Friday Harbor since a friends wedding about 6 years ago, and we didn’t have much time for exploring.

  26. Visiting Friday Harbor has always been a dream of mine. The Earthbox Hotel and Spa sounds like a fun, funky, and eco-friendly place to stay. My son has been bugging me about wanting to go “on vacation”, but I get tired of always having to tell him, “No, we can’t afford it.” I would love to be able to take off for a mini-break from the stress of work and homeschooling and be able to enjoy the beauty of the season with my kid. I love the idea of riding bicycles around town and enjoying the absolutely magnificent scenery of San Juan Island.

  27. I have only been to Orcas Island and would love to see all that San Juan/Friday Harbor has to offer! Thank you so much for hosting this.

  28. I would love to visit San Juan Island and have a mini-vacation! I had a baby almost a year ago and would love to getaway and relax for a day!

  29. My family would love a fall getaway to explore San Juan island. The last time we were there was out kids. It would be great fun to explore the beaches and see some fall color.

  30. I’ve wanted to get to the San Juans sans car – this sounds like the perfect way to do it. Either walking on the ferry or riding our bikes on…and to think there’s an indoor pool – LOVE it! Thanks for the review!

  31. I’m a VA transplant to the Pacific Northwest and I’ve always read/heard about the beauty of the San Juans but have never witnessed it for myself. I would go to explore and alternately, to relax…ahhhhhh! that bed sounds phenomenal, great review!

  32. Nearly 10 years ago I pushed out of my body another body–a little girl–who has turned into a fab person who loves swimming and biking and road trips. Having bike tripped with her to Salt Spring when she was 1YO and Lopez when she was 3YO, it is now time for her to pedal (or push–pushing is OK) her own bike (Gears! Hand breaks!) up from the ferry landing to the Earthbox. Once there, she will frolic in the pool while the oldsters soak, and then we’ll ooh-and aah over the luxury of those beds, before drifting off, one of us holding a stuffed bunny.

  33. Ok I admit it. I am one of those folks that has never made it to the islands. I would love to have a little weekend getaway with the SO.

  34. Nice place to stay. I think every travelers wishes to be staying in such kind of hotel where you can sleep comfortably. But of course such hotel also mean expensive. Anyways, I am so glad that I ran across this blog! I look forward to your future posts and topics. Good job!!

  35. We lived in Mount Vernon, WA, 7+ years ago. I would love to head back up to the area and stay in the San Juans, something we never had the chance to do when we were living nearby.

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