We often hear a lot about the baby boomer generation, but what we're hearing now is that they've got the travel bug. According to an article from NextAvenue.org, boomers spend almost $160 million every year on travel. There are several categories of travel that are becoming increasingly popular, and most of them are related to the others in some way.
Ecotourism is the number one trend right now, with more and more tourist destinations and operators striving to become greener. It's very important to remember, though, that true ecotourism does something to benefit the local residents and environment. Ideally, that zip-lining tour was constructed in a way that doesn't harm the forest around it. Think you might want to try zip lining? With the friendly folks over at Zip San Juan, you can explore a deeply forested part of the island that you may otherwise never get the chance to see. They teach you all the basics, and their guides are top-notch. The course is built very naturally into the woods, and the eight zip lines set you cruising right over a lake with a family of otters and a section of protected wetlands. Almost anyone can participate, including young children.
Adventure travel is huge, especially with more and more 50+ travelers being in great shape. Getting an adrenaline rush is becoming vitally important to this group. Operators have caught on, and are starting to offer exciting packages specifically targeted to that demographic. Kayaking, cycling, hiking, and scuba diving are just some of the activities that fit snugly into the adventure category, and San Juan Island offers all of those and more. You can catch a van from the center of town and jump in a kayak for three hours or a whole day. You'll have gorgeous rocky outcroppings soaring above you, and you're likely to see starfish in every color of the rainbow, ancient geological formations, harbor seals lazing in the sun, and if you're really lucky, wild orca whales as they surface beside you. If you're more of a landlubber, you can tour the entire island on a rented bicycle, and stop for a picnic on the grassy expanse of American Camp. And the hiking opportunities can't be beat – try Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island, a short ferry ride away. Situated in breathtaking Moran State Park, you can hike all 2,400 feet and be rewarded with a stunning view of the entire San Juans archipelago.
Multigenerational travel is an encouraging trend, especially in a world where we're all so dependent on our electronic devices and losing touch with human interaction. Whole families are now traveling together, from toddlers to matriarchs. At Harrison House and Tucker House, we pride ourselves on catering to all of our guests — young, old, and even four-legged — and we think we're the perfect place to base a multigenerational vacation. Located just a couple of blocks from the center of town, we can entertain your little ones with movies and board games, and there's always a warm cookie ready for them. Adults can relax with a good book in our sunroom or in front of a crackling fire, and there's always the hot tub on the deck, with great views. Take your tot to the town's toy store in the morning, and pass the afternoon tasting fresh, local wines at the nearby vineyard. There's no shortage of age-appropriate activities for every member of your family.
Spiritual travel is another big one, and it isn't just for those seeking nirvana. Often, it just requires going back to a simpler time by leaving your cell phone at home and taking a long, leisurely walk by the lake. Just imagine padding through the leafy forest floor in a hiking trail near English Camp, not another person around for miles, hearing only birdsong and the soft echo of the water lapping against the shore. Visit America's oldest privately owned Catholic church for Sunday mass at Roche Harbor, and afterwards, hike up to the mausoleum to feel the spirits of John McMillan and his family; a deeply spiritual man, he erected it in the l9th century as a memorial to the dreams and aspirations of his generation. Take a yoga class in town and make some new friends. Or, just try to experience a close encounter with a wild orca and not leave feeling bonded to nature.
Finally, more and more boomers are feeling the urge to create and accomplish a bucket list, or a list of experiences that one wants to have before death. Many people in their 50s, 60s and even beyond are just now at a time in their lives when they have the time and money to start thinking about this. San Juan Island is one of the best places around to add to your list of bucket list destinations. There's no shortage of exciting experiences to be had here. To get you started, I've compiled a list of five bucket list activities to check off while you're here. Use it as a jumping off point – there's no limit to what you can dream!
1) Go charter fishing and bring home a fresh, wild salmon for dinner – it tastes so much better if you catch it yourself! 2) Go zip lining and feel the exhilaration of that clean island air whipping past your face as you soar over gorgeous terrain. 3) Win a competitive eating contest – in this case, mouthwatering doughnuts – during the 4th of July celebration at Roche Harbor. 4) Rent a bicycle (or borrow one from us for free!) or even a fun moped for the day, and zip all around the island's endless variety of roads to catch some stunning scenery and check out deer or rabbits! 5) Go whale-watching and experience wild orca whales as they socialize with one another, or pack a picnic and stake out a spot at Lime Kiln State Park to catch a glimpse of them right from shore.