Located at the extreme northwest corner of the Lower 48, bordered on the north and west by Canada, the San Juan Islands bear a striking resemblance to the Maine coast, a continent away. Rocky shores and towering conifers define this collection of islands, which attract boaters and landlubbers alike, thanks to a state-financed ferry system that links the largest islands. The casual residences that dot the San Juans also have much in common with their eastern brethren—raw wood and stone are common building materials—but thanks to the more mountainous topography of Washington, most enjoy even better water views. Elevation isn't the secret for this 1960 summer cottage on Orcas Island. Set on four grassy acres just feet above sea level, it has an incongruous color scheme that would look more at home in the Caribbean...in the '80s. That this place is still listed for $2.3M is a testament to how desirable a waterfront plot is in these parts.
? On one of the San Juan's smaller islands, Shaw Island, this modern manse, built in 1997, sits among the signature rocks and trees of the region and, fittingly, seems to be constructed of those same rocks and trees. The George Suyama design has three bedrooms, three baths, and sits on four acres of waterfront with a private dock. Currently listed for $2.6M, the house is just a short seaplane flight from Seattle and minutes by boat from the larger, more populated islands.
? Known as Sea Oaks, this Lopez Island estate is perched up on stilts to provide the best view of the water and nearby islands. Heck, even the bathtub has a water view. For $2.2M, the 1981 house has four bedrooms, four acres, a gated driveway, and rustic outdoor entertaining spaces. Sadly, the pair of kinetic sculptures—could they be Calders?—probably don't convey.
? Back on Orcas Island, which was first popularized by a wealthy Seattle mayor's country estate back at the turn of the century, this $2.5M three bedroom blends into the treed hillside above the narrow waterway known as Pole Pass. Built in 1978, the house has 3,100 square feet of space but no dock, probably because only one boat at a time can pass through the channel in front of the house.
? Roche Harbor, on the north shore of San Juan Island proper, is perhaps the most charming of the islands' many small hamlets. Centered around the historic Hotel de Haro, the town has recently seen a bit of new development. Thankfully, the new houses, like this craftsman-style charmer, are convincing replicas of period construction, and don't spoil the gorgeous hillside on which they're set. This three-bedroom example is asking $950K.