Plenty of places for the outdoor adventurer

Lummi Island

The closest of the San Juans Islands to the mainland is Lummi Island. Just a six-minute ferry ride across Hale Passage, this retreat off of Gooseberry Point is a picturesque location to spend the day in tranquil isolation.

It is easy to feel alone on this island because only about 1,000 people live on its roughly nine square miles. Lummi Island’s most famous attractions include dining along with outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, kayaking and canoeing. While it would be doable to make it to Lummi in your own smaller vessel, the Whatcom Chief ferry can carry 20 cars and about 100 pedestrians (with bikes) and makes half-hourly trips to the island from 5:40 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and hourly trips from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends.

The island takes its name from the Lummi tribe, which is a part of the Coast Salish group. This year, Lummi Island will be the landing point for Paddle to Lummi 2019, a traditional canoeing event for the Coast Salish tribes. This is an annual iteration of tribal canoe journeys which traveled across much of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound described by the Lummi as “the traditional highways of the ancestors.” Every year, a different tribe hosts the journey and this year’s Paddle to Lummi will begin on July 24 at around 10 a.m. at the Lummi Stommish Grounds and will continue until July 26.

While the rest of the summer won’t be as lively as this event, anyone looking for a relaxing getaway can take in some of the other attractions, such as the local cuisine options. Lummi Island is home to The Willows Inn, a world-famous restaurant which specializes in locavore takes on farm-to-table for breakfast, midday meals and their dinner tasting menu. Head chef Blaine Wetzel, who got his start in the Copenhagen restaurant Noma, earned the title of best chef in the Northwest from the James Beard Foundation in 2015 for his use of the treasure trove of fish and crustaceans around the island.

The dinner tasting menu runs $225 and reservations are a must. Those staying at the inn receive preference; those wishing only to eat can make reservations no earlier than two weeks prior. Those seeking a more casual bite can head to the Beach Store Cafe, which specializes in classic burgers and pizzas. If visitors are more interested in wine than food, they can head to one of Lummi Island’s two wineries. Legoe Bay Winery on the west side of the island is open on the weekends and makes wines on-site from grapes imported from the Columbia Valley. The Artisan Wine Gallery on Hilltop Road showcases local art and fine cheeses and offers wine tastings every Friday and Saturday evening, or by appointment. The refined traveler can also make their way to the Lummi Island Gallery, where the exhibitions frequently celebrate the intersection of various cultures.

Travelers can come to rest at one of Lummi Island’s many  public beaches. The Congregational Church’s beach on the west side of the island is open to anyone and includes an artistic walking stone labyrinth. Sunset Beach is close to the northwest tip and is often a good place to observe reef netters catch salmon while orcas feed nearby. Relaxation can also be found at any of the spas on the island where you can select from a variety of treatments, such as hot stone and reflexology therapy.

Lummi Island has plenty of places for the outdoor adventurer thanks to its three Heritage Trust Preserves. Hikers can take on the 3.2 miles of the Baker Preserve and be rewarded with views overlooking the San Juans and the Olympic Peninsula. Or, take a more leisurely stroll through the Otto Preserve, which winds through 1.2 miles of forest trails, dotted with historic farmhouses along the way. The shortest of these hikes loops for one mile through the Curry Preserve and provides breathtaking views of Mt. Baker.

For more information on Lummi Island, visit lummi-island.com.

Suggested Itinerary

Lummi Island is a remote island of 9.2 square miles; requiring a ferry ride from Gooseberry point in Whatcom County. Before you start your journey bring a picnic lunch or stop by the Lummi Bay Market  on the way to Gooseberry Point and the Ferry landing. The ferry runs hourly on the weekends and takes eight minutes to cross Hale Passage to Lummi. This small ferry holds up to twenty cars and gets you ready for small island life.

When you arrive take your picnic to Baker Preserve Trail. This trail (3.2 miles round trip) has marine views the whole way and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic.  With a good walk and full belly,  head over to  Nettles Farm Bed & Breakfast (reservations are required) to check-in. Nettles Farm for almost three decades has offered farm to table foods to a variety of businesses. In the summer months you can enjoy our raspberries, blackberries, grapes, currents, gooseberries, tomatoes, and eggs. In the winter, there are woodstoves to keep you toasty before going out for a walk to the beach.

For casual dinning and a bar, head to the Beach Store Café for dinner. For a more exclusive dinning, The Willows Inn has people flying from all over the country to enjoy their meals.  They offer breakfast and mid day meals as well. 

When you arrive back at the farm, enjoy a good book by the fireplace or sit outside and gaze upon the stars. In the morning the owner of Nettles Farm will have a table-to-farm breakfast awaiting you.

After breakfast, take a walk down to the beach and see the 75 million-year-old fossil of a palm tree.  If you book a week a head of time, you can go kayaking with Moondance Kayak Adventures for a few hours or go whale watch with Outer Island Excursions, depending on the time of year. In the afternoon, its time to check-out and say goodbye to Lummi but be sure to stop by The Islander Store for a few snack before getting on the ferry.

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