A man looking at the island from the shoreline in one of the best Washington Islands

14 Best Islands in Washington State in 2023 (By a Local)

I’m a Washington state local and I believe exploring the islands is a must when you visit. Many of the islands in Washington made my list of the best places to visit in Washington state. After all, the islands are perfect for day trips, weekend getaways, and romantic retreats.

Here are 14 Washington islands to escape to when you need a break from the mainland and want to see what island life in the Pacific Northwest is all about.

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14 Best Washington Islands

San Juan Island

The most popular island in the San Juan Island cluster has romantic lodging, a lively town, and breathtaking views.

The author Chelsea Booker posing with the alpacas on San Juan Island
Me greeting some of the alpacas from my very first time on the island!
View of the alpacas on San Juan Island
You can’t help but be charmed by these critters

Come to San Juan Island to be enchanted. This beautiful island is part of the San Juan Islands, the archipelago in the northernmost part of Washington state. San Juan Island is a great place for a romantic anniversary date because it’s so picturesque.

There are many things to do on this popular island. Lime Kiln State Park is one of the top attractions. During whale watching season you can see orcas and other whales from the shore. 

The main town, Friday Harbor, has great farm-to-table restaurants, boutique shops, a Whale Museum, and many places to grab a drink.

One of my favorite surprises I had when visiting the island for the first time was the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. Here you can watch, feed, and learn about some of the cutest critters on the island. 

📚 San Juan Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Romantic Getaways
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsFriday Harbor HouseLakedaleRoche Harbor Resort

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in San Juan Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Bakery San Juan ($$), The Restaurant at Friday Harbor House ($$$), Madrona Bar and Grill ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – San Juan Island Brewing, Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar, The Top of the Town Lounge

🎟️ Top Attractions – Friday Harbor, The Whale Museum, Lime Kiln Point State Park, Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm

🏖️ Best Beaches – South Beach, 4th of July Beach, Eagle Cove Beach

🚗 How to Get There: First, drive to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal where you’ll board the ferry to Orcas, San Juan, or Lopez. The ferries can fill up fast, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation well in advance so you don’t have to wait for hours upon arrival.

Vashon Island

A slow-paced island near Seattle with laid back vibes and friendly locals.

A hand holding the bear claw bread from Vashon Baking Company
One of the best bear claws I’ve eaten from Vashon Baking Company

This next Washington island is one of my favorite places to visit because there is so much to do on Vashon Island even though it’s not very big. Vashon Island is just a short ferry ride away from West Seattle or Tacoma.

This south Puget Sound Island is super charming. Mingle with the locals in downtown Vashon. Get pastries from incredible bakeries, cocktails from Ruby Brink, and some of the best Thai food in the area from May Kitchen + Bar.

If you want to spend the day outside, you can camp, hike, picnic, or take a stroll through Maury Island Marine Park. Admire views of the cascade mountains at Point Robinson Lighthouse. 

No matter what your plans are when you visit, I highly recommend taking some time to go beer, wine, and cider tasting. There are plenty of spots on Vashon to do just that. 

📚 Vashon Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Small-Town Life
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsLodges on VashonVashon InnVashon Garden Cottages

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Vashon Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – May Kitchen + Bar ($$), The Hardware Store ($$), Snapdragon ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – The Ruby Brink, Camp Colvos Brewing, Dragon’s Head Cider

🎟️ Top Attractions – Point Robinson Lighthouse, Downtown Vashon, Maury Island Marine Park

🏖️ Best Beaches – KVI Beach, Point Robinson, Lisabeula Park

Bainbridge Island

Popular day trip destination with wine-tastings, family-friendly parks, and interesting local history.

The author Chelsea Booker and her husband having a picnic in Battle Point Park
Picnicking in Battle Point Park with my husband

Bainbridge Island is a 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. If you have 3 days in Seattle or more, it’s a great place to visit. As a bonus, this is one Washington island you don’t need a car to explore.

There are things to do in every part of Bainbridge. Up north, you’ll find the Bloedel Reserve and Fay Bainbridge Park. To the south, you’ll find Fort Ward Park and popular beaches with clear views of the Seattle skyline. 

Less than a mile from the ferry terminal is Winslow, the main downtown area. Winslow has restaurants, wine-tasting rooms, and boutique stores. It’s an easy place to explore on foot.

Families will find plenty of places to go with kids, whether you’re sticking to the Kids Discovery Museum in Winslow or visiting a park. If you’re a history buff, make sure you stop at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum to dive into some local history.

📚 Bainbridge Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Day Trips
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsEagle Harbor InnThe Inn at Pleasant BeachThe Marshall Suites

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Bainbridge Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Proper Fish ($$), Heyday Farm ($$$), Via Rosa 11 ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse, Eleven Winery, Bainbridge Organic Distillers

🎟️ Top Attractions – Bloedel Reserve, Fort Ward Park, Winslow

🏖️ Best Beaches – Fay Bainbridge Park, Rockaway Beach, Lytle Beach

Orcas Island

Rugged and beautiful, this San Juan Island is perfect for hiking, whale watching, and remote retreats.

Scenic view of the islands and ocean from Mount Constitution on Orcas Island
The gorgeous view from Mount Constitution

Of all the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island is arguably the most captivating for those who appreciate rugged beauty. It’s the largest island in the island chain. If you come to Orcas, prepare to explore the outdoors.

Orcas Island is home to Moran State Park. Here you’ll find hiking trails to Mount Constitution and its coveted view of the surrounding islands. Explore rocky, rugged beaches. Book a whale-watching tour, or go kayaking and wildlife-watching around Deer Harbor.

Eastsound is the main town on Orcas Island. Chat with locals, get some coffee, and have a bite to eat in this quaint town. Summer is a great time to visit because everything is open and the town is lively.

If you’re looking for the best San Juan Island to reconnect with nature, Orcas Island is one of the best islands in Washington state to visit.

📚 Orcas Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Outdoor Lovers
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsKangaroo House Bed & BreakfastOrcas HotelRosario Resort & Spa

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals on Orcas Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Doe Bay Cafe ($$), Brown Bear Baking ($$), Wild Island Restaurant ($)

🍸 Where to Drink – The Barnacle, Island Hopping Brewery, Orcas Island Winery

🎟️ Top Attractions – Moran State Park, Eastsound, Whale Watching

🏖️ Best Beaches – Obstruction Pass State Park Beach, Crescent Beach

Whidbey Island

The largest island in Washington state has small towns, nature escapes, and military history.

View of the beautiful sunset from Ebey’s Landing
Ebey’s Landing is absolutely beautiful

Whidbey Island made Travel Lemming’s list of the best places to travel in 2023 because this huge island is jam-packed with things to do. Plan to take multiple trips to the largest island in Puget Sound.

Visit Langley to hang out in a relaxed, bohemian community. Go to Coupeville if you love historic towns and want to pig out on fresh oysters. If you want to learn about military history and get a taste of the island’s “big city,” Oak Harbor is the place to go.

There are incredible outdoor excursion options on Whidbey Island. The hike through Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is accessible year-round. It’s perfect for people who like expansive water views.

Deception Pass State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Washington and is packed with hiking trails. Military buffs will adore Fort Casey State Park.

📚 Whidbey Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Long Weekends
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsInn at LangleyCaptain WhidbeyNavy Lodge Whidbey Island

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Whidbey Island

🍽️ Where to Eat –  Front Street Grill ($$), Ultra House ($$), Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway ($$$)

🍸 Where to Drink – Penn Cove Brewing Co, Spyhop, The Tipsy Jellyfish

🎟️ Top Attractions – Deception Pass State Park, Langley, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, Oak Harbor, Fort Casey State Park

🏖️ Best Beaches – Libbey Beach Park, Double Bluff Beach, Dugualla State Park, Moran’s Beach County Park

Lopez Island

Relaxing island in the San Juans with biking trails and sandy beaches.

View of the beautiful golden sunset at Spencer Spit State Park
Sunset at Spencer Spit State Park

Lopez Island is the best San Juan Island for people who like small communities. Sandy beaches and fun excursions make Lopez a relaxing and family-friendly place to escape to.

It’s one of the smallest of the major San Juan Islands, but there’s still lots to do on Lopez Island, especially if you like the outdoors. You’ll find hiking and biking trails for people of all abilities. Hit up the hiking trails around Iceberg Point or Shark Reef Sanctuary for an easy-to-moderate workout. 

Cyclists will have a blast on Lopez. Every year, the island hosts an event called Tour de Lopez. During it, bikers from all around the state descend on the island to ride along some of these fantastic trails.

Make sure to visit Lopez Village to check out shops, and restaurants, and mingle with the locals. It’ll certainly give you some insight into why Lopez is nicknamed The Friendly Isle. 

📚 Lopez Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Biking
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsEdenwild Boutique InnLopez Islander Resort and MarinaMacKaye Harbor Waterfront Inn

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Lopez Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Ursa Minor ($$$), APIZZAPIE ($$), Haven Kitchen & Bar ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – Brewvado Tap Room, Islander Bar and Grill, Lopez Island Vineyards

🎟️ Top Attractions – Lopez Village, Spencer Spit State Park, Shark Reef Sanctuary

🏖️ Best Beaches – Odlin Park Beach, Otis Perkins Beach, Spencer Spit State Park 

🏝️ Island Hopping: If you have an extended stay at San Juan, Orcas, or Lopez Island, you can also visit Shaw Island. This is another small island in the archipelago. Shaw Island only has a general store and a few parks, but it’s great for people looking for remote and scenic places.

Fidalgo Island

Island with a lively city, epic state park, and plenty of maritime activities.

Aerial view of the town of Anacortes
A view of Anacortes (photo: Angela Dukich / Shutterstock)

Fidalgo Island is just north of Whidbey, connected by the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. It’s home to the northern part of Deception Pass State Park, one of the best state parks in Washington.

Find additional hiking adventures around Mount Erie or go to Washington Park to enjoy kayaking, beach fun, and views of the San Juan Islands. 

Anacortes, the main city on the island, offers many delights. Grab tasty seafood and cold beers at restaurants downtown. Visit during the Anacortes Waterfront Festival, Arts Festival, and Shipwreck Fest, which are all fun events.

Fidalgo Island is a great place to spend time on the water. Book sailing excursions, fishing charters, and whale-watching tours while here. You can access the San Juan Islands from Fidalgo as well, making it a good choice if you want to visit multiple islands of Washington state on your visit.

📚 Fidalgo Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Maritime Excursions
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsMajestic Inn and SpaShip Harbor InnNantucket Inn Anacortes

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Fidalgo Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Adrift ($$), MaMa Wing ($$), Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – Salt and Vine, Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery, etc

🎟️ Top Attractions – Deception Pass State Park, Anacortes, Mt Erie, Washington Park 

🏖️ Best Beaches – Rosario Beach, Deception Pass State Park, Sunset Beach

Harstine Island

Sleepy southern Puget Sound island for nature lovers and cozy retreats.

The author Chelsea Booker with her friends posing at Harstine Island
Me and a group of friends on a birthday trip getaway to Harstine Island

Harstine Island is one of the lesser visited islands on this list. You won’t find hotels or even restaurants directly on the island, but there are plenty of vacation rentals and multiple state parks to explore.

If you want to spend a day or two on Harstine Island, I recommend making a grocery trip before you come (the closest restaurant is a 10-minute drive away). Harstine is the perfect place for some downtime to escape daily life.

Explore Jarrel Cove State Park or McMicken Island State Park where you can visit beaches, camp, boat, and watch for sea lions and seals. 

One unexpected attraction on Harstine Island is the Wild Felid Advocacy Center of Washington. This is a wild cat rescue and sanctuary, and you can book a guided tour to get to see and learn about the big cats they have in their care.

📚 Harstine Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Sleepy Getaways
Google Map

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Harstine Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Klay’s Burger Shack ($$), Olympic Bakery and Deli ($$), Spencer Lake Bar and Grill ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – 2 Margaritas, Spencer Lake Bar and Grill

🎟️ Top Attractions – Jarrel Cove State Park, Wild Felid Advocacy Center of Washington, McMicken Island State Park

🏖️ Best Beaches – McMicken Island Marine State Park

Camano Island

Hidden gem island for artists and outdoor enthusiasts.

View of the cabins lined up at Cama Beach State Park
Cabins at Cama Beach State Park

Located between the mainland and Whidbey Island, Camano Island can get overshadowed by its neighbors. This makes it a bit of a hidden gem. Those willing to explore it will easily fall in love. 

Spend some time at Cama Beach State Park, Camano Island State Park, and the Iverson Trail Preserve. You can hike, explore the beaches at low tide, and go swimming or boating. If you prefer to be among the trees, check out Canopy Tours NW to book an exciting zipline adventure

Visit the island during the Northwest Glass Festival to participate in a fun, island-wide scavenger hunt. If you’re an artist in need of inspiration, you’ll find some at the various art galleries on Camano.

Camano Island is one of the islands on this list that you can drive to, so there’s no need to worry about Washington state ferry times before you visit!

📚 Camano Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Artists and Nature Lovers
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsSea Mist Waterfront InnCamano Island Inn

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Camano Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Blue Heron Kitchen and Bar ($$$), The Baked Cafe ($), Elger Bay Food Mart Cafe and Restaurant ($)

🍸 Where to Drink – Tapped Camano, Ale Spike Camano Island Brewery, Edward Lynne Cellars

🎟️ Top Attractions – Camano Island State Park, Iverson Trail Preserve, Canopy Tours NW

🏖️ Best Beaches – Mabana Beach, Cama Beach State Park

Anderson Island

Rural island community for stress-free excursions and solitude seekers.

Anderson Island is the southernmost island on this list. It’s an easy island to visit if you’re looking for a quick getaway from Tacoma or Olympia. 

There’s not much to do on Anderson Island. The island has a small cluster of permanent residents and nightlife is nonexistent. That said, Anderson Island is perfect if you’re searching for a place to rid yourself of worries or stress.

There are just a couple of restaurants on the island, and several parks to hang out at. Come here with a book or sketchpad. Wander through uncrowded parks that will make you feel miles away from the city.

If you visit Anderson Island on a day trip, be mindful of the limited ferry schedule. This way, you won’t get stuck on the island without lodging or a way to get off.

📚 Anderson Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Solitude
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsInn at Burg’s LandingSweet Woodruff Bed and Breakfast

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Anderson Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Riviera Lakeshore ($$), Anderson Island Cafe ($), Anderson Island General Store ($)

🎟️ Top Attractions – Andy’s Marine Park, Anderson Island Historical Society, Lowell Johnson Park

Lummi Island

A tiny island in the San Juans for peaceful day trips and farm stays.

Aerial View of Legoe Bay and Orcas Island at sunset
A view across the water at Lummi

Go to Lummi Island knowing that there’s not as much to do here compared to some of the larger San Juan Islands. Still, Lummi is a cute island you can easily visit if you’re in the Bellingham area. 

The island is only 9 miles long so bring a bike to cycle from north to south easily, with just a slight elevation gain. Cycling through Lummi Island will take you on a little tour past many of the sights. Stop at Sunset Beach and the Otto Preserve and then make your way to Lummi Peak for views of the rest of the archipelago.

For an overnight stay on the island, book a room at Nettles Farm Bed & Breakfast. You’ll get plenty of farm fresh food, participate in group pizza making, and have all the time you need to unwind on this idyllic farm.

📚 Lummi Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Relaxation
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsNettles Farm Bed & Breakfast

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Lummi Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Beach Store Cafe ($$), The Islander ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – Artisan Wine Gallery ($$)

🎟️ Top Attractions – Otto Preserve, Baker Preserve

🏖️ Best Beaches – Sunset Beach

Mercer Island

An island suburb in Lake Washington with a relaxing, small-town atmosphere.

View of the families enjoying at Luther Burbank Park
Families on a beach at Luther Burbank Park (photo: knelson20 / Shutterstock)

If you’re in Seattle, Mercer Island is easy to get to. The I-90 bridge connects Seattle to the rest of the Eastside across Lake Washington. Right in the middle is where you’ll find Mercer Island. It’s the one island on this list that’s not in Puget Sound

The island is a quiet and unassuming suburb with a lot of parks and a safe and easygoing atmosphere. Visit in the height of summer to go to the vibrant farmers market or to catch a free Shakespeare in the Park performance at Luther Burbank Park.

There are a few standout restaurants on Mercer Island. Go to Pogacha Restaurant for Croatian food or to Shawn’s Bakery and Cafe for freshly baked bread, pretzel rolls, and sandwiches. Roanoke Inn is another popular choice for good food and strong drinks in a historic building.

📚 Mercer Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Families
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsHyatt House Seattle-BellevueSilver Cloud Hotel-Bellevue

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Mercer Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Roanoke Inn ($$), Pogacha Restaurant ($$), Shawn’s Bakery and Cafe ($)

🍸 Where to Drink – Barrels Wine Bar, Roanoke Inn

🎟️ Top Attractions – Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island Farmers Market, Pioneer Park

🏖️ Best Beaches – Luther Burbank Beach, Groveland Beach, Clarke Beach

Guemes Island

Activities on this tiny island revolve around the resort and the general store.

Guemes Island is one of the Washington state islands you can get to from Fidalgo Island. It’s a short 5-minute ferry ride to Guemes Island from the ferry terminal in Anacortes.

If you’re someone who likes to relax and go with the flow, you’ll enjoy your time on Guemes. Many of the activities on the island revolve around the Guemes Island Resort in the north and the Guemes Island General Store to the south.

The General Store is the only restaurant on the island, and it’s one hub of activity. You’ll find visitors and residents hanging out here eating, drinking beer, and listening to live music. 

If you book a stay at the resort, expect a laidback visit where you can play games, rent boats, get a massage, relax in a sauna, and buy local gifts. 

📚 Guemes Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Quick Trips
Google Map

✨ Best Hotels Guemes Island ResortMajestic Inn and Spa

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals on Guemes Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Guemes Island General Store ($$), MaMa Wing ($)

🍸 Where to Drink – Guemes Island General Store • Rockfish Grill & Anacortes Brewery

🎟️ Top Attractions – Guemes Mountain

🏖️ Best Beaches – North Beach, Kelly’s Point

Marrowstone Island

A quiet island with a hidden winery, a historic state park, and pretty mountain and water views.

View of the Fort Flagler Historic State Park at sunset
Down by the waterfront at Fort Flagler

Yet another hidden gem, Marrowstone Island is a serene and peaceful escape in Jefferson County. 

There are several state parks on Marrowstone. The most popular is Fort Flagler State Park. This historic military facility turned park is the place to go for camping and beach excursions. You can also go here to explore tons of old military batteries.

If you’re looking for something a little less active, visit Marrowstone Vineyards, a charming winery with scenic views. Sample wines, listen to live music, and bring a picnic with provisions from the Nordland General Store.

There are no hotels and few restaurants on Marrowstone, so you’ll need to drive off the island to nearby towns to find a place to stay or eat out. Still, Marrowstone is more than worth a visit if you’re interested in a quaint island that feels like a bit of a secret.

📚 Marrowstone Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Island for Hidden Gems
Google Map

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Marrowstone Island

🍽️ Where to Eat – Beachcomber Cafe at Fort Flagler ($), Nordland General Store ($)

🍸 Where to Drink – Crazy Otter, Valley Tavern

🎟️ Top Attractions – Fort Flagler State Park, Marrowstone Vineyards, Mystery Bay

🏖️ Best Beaches – East Beach Park, Fort Flagler State Park

FAQs About Islands in Washington State

What is the best island to visit off of Seattle?

Bainbridge Island is the best island to visit off of Seattle. The ferry ride is only 30 minutes, and the island can be explored by car or on foot.

How long is the ferry ride from Seattle to San Juan Islands?

The ferry ride from Seattle to San Juan Islands typically takes between 3.5 to 4 hours but is currently not running. To get to the San Juan Islands from Seattle, you must drive to Anacortes and catch the ferry from there.


And there you have it! These are the best Washington state islands to explore if you want a glimpse into island life on Puget Sound and in the Pacific Northwest. All of the islands of Washington offer something special. All that’s left to do is choose the island that suits you best.

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