Top 5 Best Things to do on Lopez Island
Lopez Island is the first ferry stop in the San Juan Islands and offers visitors an escape from the crowded and busy real world. Almost all the things to do on Lopez Island revolve around being outside and getting close to nature. Here are the top 5 things to do on your Lopez Island getaway!
Lopez Island offers some of the best hiking you will find in the islands and is home to the largest preserve in the San Juan Islands National Monument. Make sure you plan on taking a few hikes during your vacation. While Lopez has many hikes to choose from, Shark Reef and Iceberg point are must-dos during your island getaway.
Shark Reef Wildlife Preserve hike begins as a wooded trail that leads to a breathtaking rocky coastline. Shark Reef is a great place to see harbor seals and Steller sea lions sunbathing on a cluster of micro islands just off of Lopez’s shore. Cattle Point Lighthouse on San Juan Island will be visible in the distance along with the white-capped Olympic Mountains filling the distant horizon.
Another must-do hike on Lopez Island is Iceberg Point. Car travelers will want to park their cars at Agate Beach and walk the remaining distance to the trailhead. Iceberg Point is a vast, treeless peninsula with a mix of coastal meadows and rocky outcrops. Following the main trail, you will be led to a stone obelisk that marks the highest point of Iceberg and offers the most stunning views. From there, the trail follows the rocky shore and eventually loops back. As Iceberg Point is the best place to see orca whales on Lopez Island while hiking, keep an eye to the horizon for the dorsal fins for our resident orca pods.
Cyclists from around the world come to the San Juan Islands each year to ride their bicycles, and Lopez Island is consistently ranked the best ride in the islands and even Washington State. Bicyclists enjoy amazing views, little car traffic, and bike-friendly islanders. Some bikers choose to leave their cars at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal and ride their bikes onto the ferry or rent a bike from Edenwild Adventures at the Lopez Ferry landing. Edenwild Island Adventures also has a good selection of bikes in Lopez Village.
Lopez Island is also much flatter than the other San Juan Islands, and this makes peddling much easier. Serious cyclists will want to follow the Tour De Lopez route, which is also an annual cyclist event that happens in each spring. The Tour De Lopez is a 30 mile ride that roughly follows the island’s coast that begins and ends at Lopez Village. The causal rider will enjoy meandering down island’s country roads dotted with family farms on the way to a perfect beach for a picnic. Make sure you stop at Blossom Organic Grocery for your supplies.
So now that you have pedaled Lopez Island, it is now time to pick up a paddle and slip into a kayak. Lopez has many kayaking opportunities for beginners as well as experts. Edenwild offers kayak rentals right in Lopez Village in the protected waters of Fisherman’s Bay. Playful harbor seals are a common sight while paddling in Fisherman’s Bay along with a few resident bald eagles hunting the waters from overhead.
Don’t forget to look down while paddling because the island’s clear waters allow you to see a rich ecosystem below the surface. Expect to see orange and purple starfish, Plume Anemones, and schools of fish. Both Dungeness and Red Rock crabs are abundant in Fishermans Bay, and crabbing gear can be rented during the season, so you can soak a crab pot while leisurely paddling. On the way back to shore, you can pull up dinner!
There are a number of great kayak launch locations for those who will be bringing their kayaks on their San Juan Island vacation. Mackaye Harbor Boat Launch offers plenty of parking and access to the protected water of Makayce Harbor. Advanced kayakers can even paddle to Iceberg Point from this location.
Hunter Bay Boat Launch is another great spot to launch a kayak on Lopez Island. Hunter Bay is a fairly protected cove and offers a paddler access to plenty of interesting micro islands and wild, rugged coastlines. The experienced paddler could follow the Northerly coast all the way to Spencer Spit State Park.
You can’t come to Lopez Island without spending part of your visit lounging on the beach. Lopez has some of the best sandy beaches in the San Juan Islands, and we have a few recommendations for each type of traveler.
If you have kids in tow, there is no better beach than Odlin County Park. Park for free right near the shore and pick a spot to spread out your beach blanket. The beach at Odlin gradually slopes into the water which makes it very safe for little ones to play and splash. Kiddos especially love it when the inner island ferry passes in the distance because its wake temporarily causes lapping waves on the beach. Odlin Park Beach is a favorite with both Lopez Islanders and tourists alike and is always the most popular place on the island when the sun is shining. Good thing Odlin Park beach is big enough, so it never feels overly crowded.
If you are looking to escape the crowds to enjoy a more intimate sandy beach on Lopez Island, then consider packing a picnic and heading to Upright Channel Park Beach. After you park, you will first have to walk down a wooded trail that eventually leads to the most private beach on the island.
Watmough Bay Beach is full of Northwest charm. After parking, you walk down a flat path that eventually opens into a small sandy cove. A sheer rock face, called Watmough Head, borders one side of the beach, and an evergreen forest borders the other side. On a clear day, snow capped Mt. Baker can be seen perfectly framed by the borders of this cove. Huge fallen trees outline the high tidemark and offer a great place to sit and soak in the view.
Lopez Island is home to many farms, and islanders take great pride in their island farmers. Many of the best Seattle Restaurants feature Lopez Island grown fare. Lopez Island farmstands range from egg and flower bouquet stands to The Fork in the Road, which is essentially a food hub for most of our island farmers. By visiting some Lopez Island Farmstands, you can pick up all the ingredients you will need to make an amazing island meal.
While most farmstands are roadside, some of the larger stands are found among the working barns of our island farms. To get to Horse Drawn Farm, aptly named for the team of draft horses that are used to work the land, you follow the long country driveway to our island’s largest stand. They feature seasonal vegetables and island meats of all varieties. Midnight Farm’s farmstand is also located within this working farm. They feature island grown beef, lamb, and pork. Grayling Farm barn is home to Barn Owl Bakery and is where fresh bread is baked daily using island wheat. Your taste buds won’t regret a trip to our island’s farm stands.
A Different Vacation Destination
That’s it! The top 5 things to do on Lopez Island. This list looks quite different from what might be recommended on the other islands that make up the San Juans, but Lopez, in general, is a different type of vacation destination. If you are looking to escape the crowds, connect with nature, and dine hyper-locally, Lopez Island the perfect Island getaway!