When you want to take a relaxing vacation, consider taking a trip to one of the San Juan Islands. While the main San Juan Island tends to be the most popular one, one of the more unique ones people tend to overlook is Lopez. There are a ton of things to do on Lopez Island, and you’ll love that it’s much less crowded than the other islands.
Some people incorrectly think that it’s difficult to get to Lopez, but you’ll be pleased to find there are actually multiple ferries a day that go to and from the island from Anacortes. Whether you want to go hiking, wine tasting, or just find a place to chill out for a few days, this is the island to do it on.
In this article, I’ll talk about the best things to do on Lopez Island as well as some helpful tips to plan your trip there.
13 Best Things to Do on Lopez Island, Washington
Here are the top 13 things you can enjoy once you get there.
1. Hike Around the Island
Washington has some of the best places to enjoy hiking, and Lopez Island is no exception. There is a range of long and short walks for everyone of all fitness levels.
One of the most popular trails to hike is Lopez Hill. While it is a mostly uphill hike, it is still pretty easy hike in Washington to do. The hike is about 2 miles long and takes you through a forest and some rocky knolls.
If you’re a plant lover, you might enjoy this hike, as you’ll see an array of flora and fauna unique to the island. Once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and beyond.
2. Rent a Kayak and Tour Lopez Island
The waters around Lopez Island are relatively calm, making it perfect for exploring the area with a kayak. There are plenty of coves and other places like Spencer Spit and Fisherman’s bay that you can tour around.
Kayaking is a great way to explore the island from a different perspective. You can rent a kayak and explore the area on your own or book a guided tour, as there are many reliable operators in the area.
3. Explore the Island on a Bike
Lopez Island is the best for biking among the four main San Juan Islands, and it is fairly flat, with a few hilly parts. Biking is a great way to explore Lopez Island, as there are tons of hidden gems and interesting places to visit.
You can bring your bike along if you’re arriving via ferry. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry, as there are numerous bike rentals on Lopez Island.
If you find yourself here in April, you might want to participate in the annual Tour de Lopez fundraiser. It’s a cycling tour that attracts cyclists from all over to enjoy a tour around the island’s rolling hills. You could call it a mini Tour de France, and it’s a great way to meet locals and enjoy the best that the island has to offer.
4. Check Out Point Colville, Lopez Island
Located on the southeastern tip of Lopez Island sits the awe-inspiring Point Colville. It’s a 3-mile hike that takes about an hour to complete. The trail leads you through a forest and ends at Watmaugh Bay Beach.
Once you reach Point Colville, breathtaking views of the Puget Sound Inlet, the Salish Sea, and the cliffs surrounding the island will greet you. It’s the perfect place to spend the day relaxing and even enjoying a scenic picnic. It’s one of the best Lopez Island hikes that you can do.
5. Visit the Just Heavenly Fudge Factory
If you have a sweet tooth, visit the Just Heavenly Fudge Factory. As the name suggests, everything you’ll find here is heavenly, and they have over 150 different flavors of fudge.
You’ll find everything from classic fudge to more interesting combos like cookies and cream and Dulce de Leche. If fudge is too sweet for you, they also have an ice cream parlor that serves cones, sundaes, ice cream floats, and milkshakes.
In addition, they also have a gift shop where you can buy other handmade treats, jewelry, and other souvenirs.
6. Visit Lopez Village
Lopez Village is situated right in the island’s center, about 4.5 miles away from the Lopez Ferry Terminal. The village is the island’s commercial hub, and here you’ll find grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and a few small galleries.
You’ll also find the Lopez Island Historical Society and Museum. Here you can learn about the coastal tribes that inhabited the island for centuries before European settlers arrived in 1850. The museum tells how the island developed into what it is today.
You’ll also find the Port Stanley School House — the oldest school on the island, built in 1917.
7. Explore the Farmers Market
The Lopez Island Farmers Market – running every Saturday from May to September – is in Lopez Village, next to the Lopez Island Community Center. The market has all kinds of stalls selling antiques, stained glass, art, jewelry, and pottery.
It’s also a great place to grab fresh produce, baked goods, artisan bread, and some of the tastiest street food.
8. Visit Lopez Island Vineyards
Lopez Island Vineyards is a family-run winery on the island. It is currently the only winery on the island and one of only three vineyards on the San Juan Islands. They make organic wines with grapes mainly imported from eastern Washington but have a few wines made from grapes grown on the island.
The winery is between the ferry terminal and Lopez Village. They have a tasting room and patio where you can enjoy wine tasting with a lovely view.
They are currently reservation-only for tastings.
9. Hang Out in Odlin County Park
If you’re only visiting Lopez Island for the day and are looking for a cool spot to relax, then Odlin County Park is worth checking out. It’s about one mile from the ferry terminal, and it’s a quiet beach with a few benches and a baseball field.
The park is a short drive from Lopez Village, so you can always get something to eat there and take it down to the beach and enjoy your lunch by the water.
10. Visit Spencer Spit State Park
Spencer Spit State Park is a lovely area perfect for spending the day out with family and friends. It’s near the ferry terminal and is also a popular camping spot. It has a lovely little beach, picnic tables, and fire pits to enjoy roasting marshmallows.
There are also some easy hiking trails that you can enjoy and kayak rentals to explore the park.
11. Eat at Ursa Minor
While Lopez Island might be small, it has several great eateries. One place you should not skip is Ursa Minor, and many locals and visitors regard this as the best restaurant on the island.
If you only have time to visit one restaurant during your visit, then it should be this one. Ursa Minor is mainly a fine dining restaurant that serves beautifully plated food using the best local ingredients.
While their focus is fine dining, they also serve up some of the best burgers and fried chicken sandwiches that you’ll find in Washington.
12. Watch the Sunset at the Shark Reef Sanctuary
The Shark Reef Sanctuary is a hidden gem located on the west side of Lopez Island, and it consists of dramatic landscapes and views of the neighboring islands.
Contrary to the name, there are no sharks in this area.
It’s a short one-mile hike to the beach area at Shark Reef Sanctuary, but the trail is easy since it’s flat. Once you get to the end, you’ll find the beach area, and you’ll find groups of seals and orcas passing by at nearby rocks.
This is the perfect place to watch the sunset as the sun slips away and dances on the waves.
13. Visit the Other San Juan Islands
With the Washington ferry, it’s easy to take a day trip to the other San Juan Islands. You can leave in the morning and be back late afternoon or early evening. You can get off at the larger San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Shaw Island and spend the day exploring their shops, restaurants, and hikes on the San Juan Islands.
Lopez Island Travel Tips
Now that we’ve gone through the best things to do on Lopez Island, here are some handy tips to help you plan your trip.
- Book in advance – Summer is the best time to visit Lopez Island, but it does tend to get crowded quickly with visitors coming in from mainland Washington and other states. If you plan to go there in the summer, book your accommodation and ferry in advance. This is especially true if you want to make this a Washington family vacation or are coming with a larger group.
- Bring your own bicycle or car – If you’re planning to stay on the island, it’s best to bring your own car or bike to help you get around, as there are no taxi services on Lopez Island. You can easily bring your car or bike across from the mainland on the ferry.
How to Get to Lopez Island
Lopez Island is the third-largest in the San Juan Island chain, and it is located just off the coast of Washington State. Here are a few ways in which you can reach Lopez Island.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get to Lopez Island is the Washington State Ferry. This inter-island ferry takes you on a scenic ride through the four main San Juan Islands: Lopez, San Juan, Shaw, and Orcas Islands.
You can take your car and bicycle aboard the ferry and enjoy a 2-3 hour scenic boat ride through the islands before hopping off at Lopez Island. You need to schedule your ferry ride both to and back in advance with a reservation.
Departure Terminal: Anacortes Ferry Terminal
If you’re looking to get to Lopez Island a bit faster, I suggest booking a charter flight. Many airlines, such as Kenmore Air and Friday Harbor Seaplanes, offer charter flights to Lopez and some other San Juan Islands.
With a charter flight, you can leave from a few locations in Washington and Canada that will take you straight to the island.
Best Time to Visit Lopez Island
Lopez Island is a year-round destination, so the best time to visit is anytime. Summer is a great time to visit because the weather is warm, and you can enjoy outdoor activities to the fullest.
However, summer is the busiest time on the island, and it tends to get very crowded. Most accommodations are also fully booked, so I would recommend booking way in advance if you plan to go in the summer.
To avoid crowds, I would recommend visiting in May and June. The weather starts warming up, and the island is relatively quiet. You could also visit in September or October and enjoy a slightly colder but still enjoyable time of year.
Where to Stay on Lopez Island
So now that you know what to do and how to get to Lopez Island, here are some accommodation recommendations.
The Beach House on Lopez Island
This stunning beach house overlooks the breathtaking Mackaye Harbor and is just a few miles away from Lopez Village. It has a large yard with a fire pit, while the sandy shores of the harbor are just a few steps away from the door.
You can sit and make smores in the evenings while watching the sunset over the harbor.
Fisherman Bay Beach House
Located just 10 minutes away from Lopez Village sits the peaceful and quiet Fisherman Bay Beach House. Located right on the bay itself, the spacious three-bedroom home is perfect for families or a group of friends.
The home features high, vaulted ceilings with windows that provide unrivaled views of Fisherman Bay. The house is warm and cozy and the perfect place to unwind and escape from busy city life.
The Edenwild Boutique Inn
Consider staying at the Edenwild Boutique Inn for a luxurious and comfortable stay. Situated just a few miles away from the Lopez Island Ferry Terminal, it’s a great spot to stay when visiting the island.
You can choose between King or Queen suites which come with a fireplace and seating area to enjoy the views of the surrounding area. There’s also a large garden and terrace where you can enjoy your breakfast or read a book later on in the day.
Now that you see how there are so many things to do on Lopez Island, it’s time to start planning your trip!