Roche Harbor is a naturally sheltered harbor and resort on the northwest side of San Juan Island, facing towards Vancouver Island. The harbor is a popular, centralized boating hub, acting as an aquatic gateway between Washington State and British Columbia. The region is steeped in rich local history and has a special bond with the Ranger Tugs family.
The surrounding area was originally populated by a strong coastal Salish community, and was found by Spanish explorer Gonzalo Lopez de Haro in the late 18th century (the namesake of Haro Strait to the west and Lopez Island to the east). In the late 19th century, a large lime deposit was discovered by John S. McMillin; business boomed, and he constructed the historic Hotel de Haro, also named after the Spanish explorer.
The region was part of a territorial dispute between the United States and Great Britain. Following the division of Oregon Territory and the Columbia District (now Washington State and British Columbia), there were ongoing disputes how to divide between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the 49th parallel. The United States claimed it should be on the east side of the San Juan Islands, via Haro Strait, whereas the British felt it should be via Rosario Strait, to the east of the islands. The islands carried both British and American settlers, and on June 15th, 1859, an American farmer shot and killed an Irishman’s pig who had wandered on to his farm and eaten his potatoes. Both militaries were called in after the British threatened to arrest the American, and camps were established on San Juan Island; threatening military escalation. Luckily, the conflict never evolved beyond shouting matches, and in 1872 the British fully withdrew from their encampment after the region was formally granted to the United States. In modern times, the British flag is still raised daily at their old camp; it is one of the few places without diplomatic status were United States government employees hoist the flag of another country.
Today, Roche Harbor has been restored by the Tarte family and is home to a fully featured resort with dozens of amenities and hundreds of boat slips. The resort is home to the historic Hotel de Haro and five other distinct lodging options, three restaurants, meeting halls, and a spa. And that’s just indoors! Outdoor offerings include the 377-slip marina, a pool, tennis and bocce courts, hiking trails, whale watching tours, and unforgettable wedding venues.
For us at Ranger Tugs, Roche Harbor is a special destination. Each year in September the resort proudly hosts our Ranger Tugs & Cutwater Boats Factory Rendezvous, a gathering of Ranger Tugs owners to reminisce about the past year’s adventures on the water. Beyond celebration, the multi-day event also presents seminars hosted by our own employees and representatives from our partners. It’s a salute towards our amazing family you can’t miss once you’re part of it!