Whether you’re looking to get a feel for island life or simply need to get away from the city bustle, why not add visiting a gorgeous island to your Washington bucket list? We have so many islands in Washington that it’s hard to pick from, which is why I created this article on the best islands near Seattle to make it easier next time you’re ready to take a vacation.
I have lived in Seattle for most of my life and have had the opportunity to explore many islands, but there is one that holds a special place in my heart – Orcas Island. Every year, I go on an exciting camping adventure there. Waking up to the sounds of nature, surrounded by tall trees and pristine wilderness, is truly magical. I also visit San Juan Island at least once a year to have delicious seafood in Friday Harbor.
These islands have a rich agricultural heritage and are famous for their unique local products. You can enjoy a variety of delicacies, from freshly caught seafood and farm-to-table cuisine to artisanal products like cheeses, wines, and crafts, each with its own distinct flavor and personality. The marine ecosystem is teeming with diverse species like orcas, seals, sea lions, and many bird species.
These islands provide a range of experiences, including outdoor adventures, wildlife encounters, and arts and culture. Most of them are easily accessible from Seattle by a quick drive and ferry ride. However, it is recommended to check the ferry schedules before planning your trip to avoid any inconvenience.
1. Whidbey Island
Distance from Seattle: 1 hour, 9 minutes (35 miles)
How to get there: Travel to Mukilteo from Seattle (by car or public transport), then take the Clinton – Mukilteo ferry to Clinton, Whidbey Island.
Whidbey Island is one of the most popular islands near Washington State, and one of the best islands to visit near Seattle, in my opinion. There are about 7,000 people living here, on the largest island in Washington State. Its landscape is made up of farmlands and beaches, with quaint towns and villages dotted in between, and there are tons of fun things to do on Whidbey Island.
The island served as a military defense many years ago and is still home to significant historical landmarks. While here, you can also go wine tasting, explore the nature reserves and hiking trails, and meet locals in the town streets.
Whidbey Island is also home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, which plays a significant role in the local economy.
Whidbey Island Highlights
- Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
- Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum
- Deception Pass State Park
- Fort Casey
Best Whidbey Island Restaurants
- Whidbey Island Bagel Company
- Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill
Where to Stay on Whidbey Island
- Coachman Inn Oak Harbor – This small hotel in Oak Harbor has comfortable and clean rooms, a pool to use, and a scrumptious breakfast on offer. Rates start from $173 per night
- The Hideaway – This cozy cabin is close to Langley but hidden away slightly in the woods. It’s the perfect combination of seclusion and convenience. Rates start from $257 per night
2. Guemes Island
Distance from Seattle: 1 hour, 50 minutes (84 miles)
How to get there: Drive 80 miles to Anacortes, and from there, take a 30-minute ride on the Guemes Island- Anacortes Ferry
Guemes is a more rural island, with fewer amenities than Whidbey but no lack of stunning scenery. The island has few restaurants or accommodations, and it’s often best as a day trip from Anacortes.
You can still, however, enjoy the beaches here, as well as the hiking opportunities and water sports if the weather is good. Hiking to the summit of Guemes Mountain offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Mountains, and the Skagit Valley.
Guemes Island Highlights
- Guemes Mountain Trail
- Peach Preserve
- Kelly’s Point
Guemes Island Restaurants
- Guemes Island General Store is the island’s main spot to find a sit-down meal, but it is also one of the island’s highlights. Visit for a baked good, pizza, and refreshments before or after your trip around the island.
- DIGS Kitchen (a food truck with picnic tables set around)
Where to Stay on Guemes Island
- Rustic Guemes Beach Cabin – With large windows and a balcony overlooking the beach, this is a romantic spot to spend the night with a loved one or on your own. Rates start at $119 per night
- Guemes Island Resort – The main accommodation on the island, this resort offers everything from yurts to furnished cabins and full vacation homes. Rates start at $134 per night
3. Bainbridge Island
Distance from Seattle: 47 minutes (10 miles)
How to get there: Take the Seattle – Bainbridge Ferry to Bainbridge Island
This is perhaps the easiest island to visit on a quick day trip from Seattle, as it’s accessible from downtown Seattle or by driving down the Peninsula. Bainbridge is quite a busy area for an island — there are over 20,000 residents and plenty of amenities. Despite this, it’s still a pleasant break from bustling Seattle, and many locals call it the best island to visit in Seattle.
A weekend getaway here promises plenty of hiking, swimming, and soaking up the massive parkland areas on what many locals consider one of the best islands near Seattle. There are also wineries and local arts aplenty, and you won’t go hungry here with the array of pubs, restaurants, and cute cafes. It’s hard to run out of what to do on Bainbridge!
The island features parks, hiking trails, wineries, art galleries, and the popular Bloedel Reserve, a public garden and nature preserve. It offers a blend of natural beauty, small-town charm, and proximity to the city.
Bainbridge Island Highlights
- Lytle Beach
- Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
- Blakely Harbor Park
- Halls Hill Labyrinth
Bainbridge Island Restaurants
- Amelia Wynn Winery Bistro
- San Carlos Restaurant
- The Pint & Plate
Where to Stay on Bainbridge Island
- Marshall Suites – Loved for its convenient location and value for money, this boutique hotel is small but welcoming. You can book rooms for one, two, or three people sharing. Rates start at $129 per night
- Bainbridge Tranquility – This 3-bed holiday home will fit the whole family and then some — at a great price. The house is fully equipped and has a garden to enjoy. Rates start at $140 per night (with a minimum 2-night stay required)
4. Lummi Island
Distance from Seattle: 2 hours, 20 minutes (106 miles)
How to get there: Travel past Bellingham to Lummi Reservation and then take the Whatcom Chief Ferry to Lummi Island.
Lummi Island is situated in the northern part of Puget Sound, near Bellingham. It is known for its scenic beauty, including stunning views of Mount Baker and the surrounding waterways.
The island is home to a small community comprised mostly of artists who showcase their work across the island. This is not the kind of place you come to rush from one place to the next.
Rather, Lummi is best enjoyed slowly and deliberately. There aren’t too many accommodation options and only a handful of restaurants, but if you want a place to clear your mind and indulge in artistic delights, this is it.
Lummi Island Highlights
- Sunset Beach
- Lummi Island Congregational Church Labyrinth
- Windy Hill Art Sculpture Park
Lummi Island Restaurants
- Beach Store Cafe
- Artisan Wine Gallery
Where to Stay on Lummi Island
- Nettles Farm – One of the only places you can book to stay on Lummi, Nettles Farm is a rustic and welcoming space. There are two apartments, one sleeping 6 and the other with space for 8, as well as an outdoor pizza oven, fire pit, and sauna. Rates start at $199 per night
5. Vashon Island
Distance from Seattle: 57 minutes (11.5 miles)
How to get there: Take the Fauntleroy – Vashon Island ferry to Vashon.
Vashon Island is the largest island in Puget Sound, sitting between Seattle and Tacoma. The island offers stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. This island around Seattle features several parks, trails, and beaches.
Vashon Island offers a slower pace of life compared to nearby urban areas. It has a charming downtown area with unique shops, cafes, and restaurants – you’ll love all the things to do on Vashon!
Vashon also has a thriving arts and culture scene. It is home to numerous artists, musicians, and writers and hosts various art galleries, studios, and music events throughout the year. The Vashon Center for the Arts is a notable cultural hub on the island.
Vashon Island Highlights
- Downtown Vashon
- Maury Island Marine Park
- Point Robinson Park and Lighthouse
Vashon Island Restaurants
- The Wild Mermaid
- Camp Colvos Brewing
- The Hardware Store Restaurant
Where to Stay on Vashon Island
- Sound & Style – This 4-bed house can sleep a total of 8 people at a reasonable rate per night. It’s located on the beachfront and has stunning views from the fully equipped kitchen and cozy lounge. Rates start at $154 per night (minimum 2-night stay required)
- Harborside Retreat – Another home-away-from-home right on the water’s edge just waiting to welcome you and your group of up to 6 people. This 2-bed house has all the amenities you’ll need for a sleepover on Vashon Island. Rates start at $157 per night (minimum 2-night stay required)
6. Anderson Island
Distance from Seattle: 2 hours (49 miles)
How to get there: Travel through Tacoma to Steilacoom and then take the Anderson Island – Steilacoom ferry to Anderson Island.
Anderson Island is a small but charming island for history and nature enthusiasts. The island is home to several parks and nature reserves, including Andy’s Marine Park and the Anderson Island Nature Park, where you can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing.
The Riviera Community Club is the hub of social and recreational activities on Anderson Island. It offers amenities such as a golf course, tennis courts, a swimming lake, a marina, and a clubhouse.
Note: Anderson Island has limited services and amenities. A small general store provides basic supplies, groceries, and gas. It is an excellent place to unwind, enjoy outdoor activities, and appreciate the tranquility of island living.
Anderson Island Highlights
- Andrew Anderson Marine Park
- Anderson Island Historical Society
- Riviera Community Club
Anderson Island Restaurants
- Riviera Lakeshore Restaurant
Where to Stay on Anderson Island
- Waterfront Anderson Island Home – This self-catering 3-bed home is right on the waterfront with views over Puget Sound. It’s private and modern and will suit a family getaway. Rates start at $159 per night
- Tuck Me Inn – Clean and cozy, this 2-bed house surrounded by trees and offering a quiet space is ideal for couples and groups. The whole house is open and spacious, with big windows and plenty of light. Rates start at $116 per night
7. San Juan Island
Distance from Seattle: 3 hours, 15 minutes (107 miles)
How to get there: Travel to Anacortes and then take the Anacortes – Friday Harbor ferry to Friday Harbor, San Juan.
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago made up of five islands, with San Juan being the second-largest and most populous one. This island is a bit further from Seattle than others I’ve listed, but there are so many reasons you should visit.
Not only are the San Juan Islands a popular place for celebrities to have their homes, but this particular island is also well known for its main town, Friday Harbor. I come here at least once a year for a day trip to explore all the things to do on San Juan Island and indulge in amazing seafood at local restaurants.
The island has an alpaca farm, several wineries and parks, and seemingly endless magnificent beaches. There are also tons of hikes on San Juan Island to do if you feel like being active on one of the best islands near Seattle.
San Juan Island Highlights
- Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm
- San Juan Islands Sculpture Park
- Lime Kiln Point State Park
San Juan Island Restaurants
- San Juan Island Brewing Company
- The Restaurant at Friday Harbor House
- Duck Soup
Where to Stay on San Juan Island
- Friday Harbor House – Each room here has a fireplace and spa bath, plus there’s room service and harbor views from the patios. It does get booked up fast, though. Rates start at $229 per night
- Bird Rock Hotel – This quaint hotel is close to the ferry and within walking distance of the beach. It’s conveniently located and offers a comfy room to spend the night in. Rates start at $200 per night
If you have time, carve out a few hours to explore the best things to do in La Conner before you go.
8. Orcas Island
Distance from Seattle: 3 hours (9 miles)
How to get there: Travel to Anacortes and then take the Anacortes – Orcas Island ferry to Eastsound.
Orcas Island is another popular member of the San Juan Islands archipelago. This horseshoe-shaped island is known affectionately as “the gem of the San Juans.”
Visiting Orcas is ideal for outdoor-loving travelers since it offers some of the best hiking, biking, and kayaking. A walk up to the summit of Mount Constitution is a must while here – I’ve done this multiple times because the view of the other San Juan Islands and Canada never gets old.
Moran State Park, covering over 5,200 acres, provides miles of trails for hiking and biking and several freshwater lakes for swimming and fishing. I love camping here every year with my friends, as it’s such a peaceful area, and it’s one of the best things to do on Orcas Island.
The island hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including the Orcas Island Farmers Market and the Orcas Island Film Festival.
Orcas Island Highlights
- Orcas Moon Alpacas Farm
- Deer Harbor Preserve
- Moran State Park
Orcas Island Restaurants
- Kingfish at West Sound
- Orcas Island Winery
- Island Hoppin’ Brewery
- Buck Bay Shellfish Farm
Where to Stay on Orcas Island
- The Landmark Inn on Orcas Island – These condos are perfect for families and groups. They consist of spacious rooms, shared living areas, and stunning views over the water. Rates start at $199 per night
- Orcas Hotel – Right across from the ferry terminal on Orcas Island, this hotel is ideal to book into, leave your bags, and explore the island. Then return to a hearty meal and warm bed, waking to harbor sights and sounds. Rates start at $227 per night
9. Lopez Island
Distance from Seattle: 2 hours, 44 minutes (95.9 miles)
How to get there: Travel to Anacortes and then take the Anacortes – Orcas Island ferry to Eastsound.
If your goal is to conquer all of the hikes in Washington State, this island in Washington may be the best place to start. Lopez is a much smaller and quieter island compared to the other two mentionable San Juan Islands, and it’s ideal for a tranquil escape.
The best outdoor activities are hiking, picnics in the parks, and biking. Lopez Island’s terrain is also perfectly suited for easier hikes and rides. It’s also a really good choice if you’re in the mood for some camping when looking for what to do on Lopez Island.
Lopez Island Highlights
- Lopez Hill Trailhead
- Spencer Spit State Park
- Lopez Island Historical Museum
Lopez Island Restaurants
- Ursa Minor
- Isabel’s Espresso
- Brewvado Tap Room
Where to Stay on Lopez Island
- Lopez Farm Cottages & Tent Camping – Take your pick from cozy cottages or glamping tents on this idyllic farm. The accommodation is equipped for all your needs, including offering bike rentals. Rates start at $203 per night
- The Edenwild Boutique Inn – Conveniently located in the main village, this inn invites you with a warm room, well-kept garden, and shared library. Rates start at $173 per night
Hopefully, this article has helped you narrow down your choices of the best islands near Seattle for your next trip! You can’t go wrong no matter which one you choose.