San Juan Islands Photo Robert Demar

Island Hopping

Whether you’re boating to Bainbridge or boarding a two-seater seaplane to the San Juans, island life is attainable from Seattle.


Chock-full of quiet charm.

DON’T MISS: The beach, playground, kayak rentals, and views of the Olympic Mountains at Camano’s 400-plus-acre Cama Beach State Park (1880 SW Camano Dr); author and artist hub Moonraker Bookstore (209 First St, Langley) and seafood specialist Saltwater (113 First St, Langley) on Whidbey.

GETTING THERE: No need to cross the water—Camano Island is about an hour’s drive north of Seattle, Whidbey two hours’ drive (though a ferry to Whidbey from Mukilteo Terminal cuts that time in half).



Decidedly laid-back, with a healthy dose of quirk.

DON’T MISS: Seasonal scoops from Glass Bottle Creamery (17637 Vashon Hwy SW); shoreline park and marine conservancy Point Robinson Park (3705 SW Point Robinson Rd); seasonally inspired meals at Bramble House (17123 Vashon Hwy SW).

GETTING THERE: Take the walk-on water taxi from the Seattle waterfront (20 minutes) or drive onto the ferry departing from West Seattle (also about 20 minutes).

Island Life Courtesy David Wilson


Small-town chic, with Instagram-worthy shops aplenty.

DON’T MISS: The house-cured porchetta sandwich from Hitchcock Deli (129 Winslow Way E); tasting organic wines at women-owned and -operated Bainbridge Vineyards (8989 NE Day Rd).

GETTING THERE: Walk or drive onto the ferry from the Seattle waterfront for a half-hour ride across Puget Sound (keep an eye out for whales along the way).



Bustling to bucolic, depending on the island (they call it “Slopez” for a reason).

DON’T MISS: The Lopez Island Farmers Market  Saturdays—stop by Barn Owl Bakery’s stand for fresh bread and pastries; Lime Kiln State Park (1567 West Side Rd) on San Juan Island for unbeatable whale-watching from the shore; dinner at an ambitious eatery like Ælder (460 Main St, Eastsound) on Orcas Island.

GETTING THERE: By boat: Walk onto the San Juan Clipper (2701 Alaskan Way, Pier 69) in downtown Seattle to sail to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island or, just north of Seattle in Anacortes, drive or walk onto a Washington State Ferry  to Lopez, Orcas, or San Juan Island. By plane: Charter a seaplane with Kenmore Air (950 Westlake Ave N) in South Lake Union to fly to Lopez, Orcas, or San Juan Island.


Peaceful—the entire island is only nine square miles.

DON’T MISS: James Beard Award-winning restaurant Willows Inn (2579 W Shore Dr).

GETTING THERE: Drive onto the car ferry north of Seattle in Bellingham (a 1.5-hour trip by car) for a five-minute-long crossing.


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