Spending a Day at Guemes Island

Located across Guemes Channel from the city of Anacortes, Guemes Island is a relaxing place to get away for the day or weekend. A quieter, closer and cheaper alternative to the nearby San Juan Islands, Guemes’ appeal is its relaxed vibe and ease of access. You don’t need to make reservations or plan anything to have a nice time here. Simply show up, catch the ferry, and spend the day beachcombing, hiking or paddling. Enjoy a meal at the general store, then take the ferry home or spend the night. Guemes offers the best of the islands — classic saltwater views, a slower pace of life and no traffic lights — in an easy day trip from Anacortes.

guemes island ferry

Ferry to Guemes Island

Take a ride on the Guemes Island Ferry to reach the island. This small vessel holds about 20 vehicles and runs daily. No reservations are needed to board — just show up and you’ll make one of the frequent sailings (there are typically two scheduled crossings per hour). Check the ferry website for schedules and current fares. In addition to driving, you can walk on the ferry or bring bikes to ride around the island.

Once you’re on the island, your first stop should be the Guemes Island General Store. Located just up the hill from the ferry dock, the store offers groceries, gas, and dining. Stock up for the day or weekend, or stop by for a meal (and local beers) in the outdoor beer garden. The store typically hosts live music on weekends as well (temporarily canceled due to Covid-19). 

guemes island resort cabins

Guemes Island Resort

If you’re planning to spend the weekend away, Guemes Island Resort is the natural choice. Started in 1947 as a humble fishing resort with one rental cabin, “Charlie’s Guemes Island Fishing Resort” has expanded to become the go-to spot for vacation rentals on the island. Offering vacation homes (great for families), furnished cabins (with hot tubs!), yurts and tiny houses, there’s something for everyone at this seaside resort. Guests can even check out aluminum rowboats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards free of charge. 

Beach Access

If you’re just visiting for the day, it’s still worth driving down to the resort for some beach time. Day-use visitors can park at adjacent Young’s Park for beach access. The shoreline here is east-facing, for views of Samish Island, Vendovi Island and the mainland — including Mount Baker when skies are clear. 

beach and sky at guemes island
view of lummi island from guemes island

For west-facing views (and the best sunsets), drive to the public beach at the west end of Edens Road. Looking west, you’ll have views of Cypress Island and the San Juan Islands beyond. Whichever beach you choose to visit, keep an eye out for agates. These colorful rocks can be found around Guemes Island’s pebble-strewn beaches; hunting for them is fun for beginner beachcombers and rockhounds alike. 

guemes mountain summit

Guemes Mountain Hike

If you’re looking for more of a workout and loftier views, Guemes Mountain is the highest point on the island. Gaining 550 feet in 1.2 miles (one-way), it’s a short, relatively easy trail with 360-degree views at the top. On clear days you can see the neighboring San Juan Islands, North Cascades, and even distant Canadian peaks from the 688-foot summit. Enjoy a picnic atop the mountain, breath in the fresh marine air and soak up the serenity of Guemes Island. 

Brandon Fralic

Brandon Fralic

Brandon Fralic is the author of Urban Hikes Washington and Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest. Based in Bellingham, he writes about trails, beer, and travel for numerous regional publications. Follow Brandon at @beersatb on Instagram and at his website: beersatthebottom.com

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Everett Denton on May 6, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    We go to guemas all the time to some friends property on.the beach . it’s an awesome place and island to visit. I would love to buy and move over there but don’t care much about all the black lives matters signs everywhere. I feel all lives matter.

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