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 tastingsevery 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, visitlummi-island.com.