Top 5 Island Destinations in Washington

Each Washington island offers its own unique, yet memorable experience.

San Juan

The most populated of the San Juan Islands, San Juan offers a perfect blend of activity and relaxation. Rolling hills dotted with farms and wineries meet rocky beaches and bluffs ideal for orca spotting. Whale-watching excursions and guided kayak tours depart from Friday Harbor, while history and lore wait around every corner, from lighthouses and pirate coves to a resort that’s more than a century old. The locals at the bar next to you might be dedicated orca researchers, world-class chefs, renowned artists, or top-notch shellfish farmers: all with a story to tell about the islands.

Lopez

The third-largest isle of the San Juan archipelago, Lopez is known for its slow, laid-back pace and friendly people. Visitors are treated like locals, and cyclists often journey here to cruise the gentle hills and explore fascinating detours. Peaceful farms and orchards make up the industry on this island, where old-growth forest trails and miles of secluded shorelines wait to be discovered. 

Orcas

A spirit of inspiration pervades horseshoe-shaped Orcas, with its villages brimming with artists’ studios and organic farms, not to mention winding roads through cedar forests and along dramatic shorelines. Orcas delivers endless adventures, like Moran State Park’s Mount Constitution. As the highest peak onthe islands, you’ll find unparalleled views of Mount Baker on the mainland and glittering water as far as the eye can see. Whidbey & Camano A retreat from city life awaits on serene Whidbey Island. Spanning nearly 60 meandering miles,

Whidbey

A retreat from city life awaits on serene Whidbey Island. Spanning nearly 60 meandering miles, Whidbeyoffers all of Washington’s abundance in one fell swoop, with multiple state parks and a packed calendar of year-round festivals and events. Quaint towns bustling with antique stores and boutiques, restaurants, and tucked-away inns border miles of saltwater shoreline teeming with tide pools and unending views of the surrounding mountain ranges.  Neighboring Camano Island supplies authentic Northwest experiences of its own, from fresh fare to wildlife-watching, plus a full spectrum of chances to explore the outdoors. Best of all, these two islands are accessible from the mainland via car.

--Elisabeth Schyberg