If you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway with gorgeous waterfront views, rolling farmlands and forested trails, Lopez Island is the place for you. Lopez Island, the third largest of the San Juan Islands is about an hour and a half drive and short ferry ride from Seattle. You won’t find a glamorous nightlife here, but you will find friendly people who wave to you from their cars, quaint cafes and short hikes with rewarding cliffside views of the water.
Getting to Lopez
To get to Lopez Island you’ll have to take a Washington State Ferry bound for the San Juan Islands. The ferry will leave from Anacortes. Lucky for you, Lopez Island is the first stop on the ferry ride, so you’ll only have about a 45-minute journey to your destination. It’s recommended to make a reservation for the ferry in advance, and you’ll need to arrive between 45-60 minutes early to get in line. One thing to note is that tickets are released in batches, so if you don’t see an availability on the day you need, check back.
You won’t be able to reserve a ticket for the trip back to Anacortes, so you’ll have to check out the schedule and get in line early enough on the day you plan to return.
Grab a Lopez Island map from the ferry that will help you navigate the island. If they don’t have any you’ll be able to find one in Lopez Village or print this one ahead of time.
Where to Stay
I should note that every time I’ve been to Lopez Island I’ve been lucky enough to stay with family or camp on property belonging to a family friend. That being said, I have looked for places to stay and they book up quickly — you’ll definitely need a reservation before you head to Lopez Island. A family favorite is the Garden Cottages. Some other options include camping at Odlin Park, various bed and breakfasts and the Lopez Islander Resort, which has standard rooms, vacation homes and RVs for rent.
Lopez Village, next to Fisherman Bay, is where you’ll find shops, restaurants, the Lopez Island Museum, and the Lopez Village Market grocery store. If you’re camping you’ll want to stop by the family-owned and operated Lopez Village Market to stock up on all of the essentials — marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers… and maybe some non-s’mores ingredients too.
The museum was closed on my most recent visit so I didn’t get to stop in there, but it’s on my list for another trip. You can rent kites, kayaks and bikes near Fisherman Bay — another bucket list item for my next visit. Other activities include a round on the golf course and a great skate park.
Coffee and Breakfast
A line was wrapped around the building as we arrived at Holly B’s Bakery, located in the Lopez Plaza. According to their website, Holly B’s Bakery has been providing baked goods to Lopez residents since 1976, and the original owner ran the business for 39 years before passing it on to the current owners in 2016.
Choose from savory options like feta and sun-dried tomato biscuits or sweet options like cookies, cinnamon rolls and breads. We opted to share a rich chocolate croissant and a light, flaky cinnamon croissant.
After picking a delicious treat, head next door to grab a cup of coffee at Lopez Grind Coffee Shop. If it’s an especially windy day you’ll want a warm cup of joe to warm you up as you wander around the beachfront. Lopez Grind uses beans from Everett coffee roaster Bargreen’s Coffee Co, and also carries a small selection of baked goods from Holly B’s Bakery. There are a couple of small tables outside in the back where you can eat your breakfast in the fresh air.
Hiking Around Lopez
The obvious thing to do on Lopez Island is get outside! You’ll probably notice that you don’t have great cell service on the island, so it’s the perfect opportunity to put down your phone and enjoy nature. There are a lot of great walking trails around the island. On my most recent visit we went to Shark Reef Park (where you’ll see seals) and Watmough Bay.
Shark Reef Park is a 1-mile roundtrip walk through a beautiful forested area that brings you to a rocky shoreline with stunning views of the water. Dogs are welcome on this day-use trail; camping is not allowed.
The trailhead, located on Shark Reef Road on the west side of Lopez, has some parking right in front, and there are outhouse style restrooms at the start of the trail. As you walk along the trail, you’ll need to stay alert for tree roots, mud and downed trees. There was only one tree toward the end of the trail that we had to step over, but while we were there a local mentioned this past winter’s storms knocked down other trees in the area.
When you arrive at the end, look at the rocks directly across from the shoreline, and if you look closely enough, you’ll find a seal basking in the sunshine on the rocks. We saw over 20 seals the day we went.
Watmough Bay is another quick trail that is a bit more accessible. The path is flatter and is a direct line to the beach. There is a small parking area for about eight vehicles, and from there take the short forested walk to the beach. On the beach you’ll find large pieces of driftwood to sit on, views of the surrounding cliffs and the bay itself, often with a sailboat in sight.
I’ve visited this spot twice, and it’s the perfect place to bring a small picnic lunch and enjoy being in the sun.
Please remember to respect the locals and the beautiful island that you’re visiting. Pack it in, pack it out. Leave the beaches as beautiful as they were when you found them, and follow local health guidelines so Lopez Island can continue to be open to visitors. Happy travels!