Monday, January 13th, 2014
Get Away to Lummi Island
Todd Elsworth

Lummi Island sits across from Bellingham Bay on the northwestern edge of the San Juan Islands.  On a recent crisp January day, it’s shores were calling for a visit from the mainland.  Getting out to the island is easy by car or bike. I prefer to head out of downtown Bellingham (since that’s where I live) and head west on Marine Drive. Take a left on Lummi Shore Road and you’ll get great views of Bellingham across the bay and Lummi and Portage Islands in front of you.

LummiSunshine

After stopping along the road to snap some shots, we continued around the peninsula to catch the ferry to Lummi Island. The ferry is small and only cost us $20 (car and passenger) to get across Hale’s Passage. Even for a busy Saturday, we didn’t have to wait long at all at the Fisherman’s Cove Marina for the boat to make a round trip to get us on board. Check out The Whatcom Chief’s schedule, rates and updates.

WhatcomChief

Once you get off the ferry, you will see a map of the island (pictured below) to help guide you around.

LummiIslandMAP

We decided to take a right up N. Nugent Road, past the Beach Store Cafe, and head for The Willows Inn– not for their world-class dinners, but to check out a slice of access to the water on Whatcom County Park’s Sunset Beach.

WillowsINNLummi

Just past The Willows Inn is a sign identifying access to the beach. There was plenty of parking across from the restaurant, so we poked down to the beach to check out the west side of the island.

SunsetBeachLummi

With Orcas Island in the background- barely visible with the low glaring sun, we took a stroll down the beach. I was interested in finding out the best places to launch a kayak from (in the future) and got into a great conversation with a local, Adam, who instructed us on the appropriate places to park. He informed us that where we were currently parked wasn’t necessarily appropriate and made some more reasonable suggestions for future kayak launch points.

LummiIslandBeach

While we walked down the beach, the shorebirds were having as much fun in the sun as we were. I spent some time with a pair of Black Oystercatchers while they had their lunch on the rocks.

LummiOystercatchers

We had our own picnic lunch plans, so we headed back to the car and set out for our original destination of “Church Beach”- one of the public locations that Adam had identified for us. It is a well-known spot and provides easy access to the beach from the parking lot of Lummi Island Congregational Church (3913 Legoe Bay Road, Lummi Island, WA).

LummiIslandCongregational

If you are heading counterclockwise around the island, you’ll see the church after the left turn in the road, where it heads uphill. See Church identified on the map below.

ChurchBeachLummi

Once you get down to the beach, you have a bit of room to hang out and play or just relax. It was unbelievable to be having a beach picnic on a sunny January day in the Pacific Northwest- but it was very real.

LummiIslandChurchBeach

We can’t wait to come back in the summer! The beach faces south looking down Rosario Strait. This view is looking west towards the north end of Orcas Island and the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

LummiIslandOrcas

We headed back to the ferry and the views of Mt. Baker and the peaks of the Twin Sisters were visible to the east. The calm waters of Hale’s Passage reflecting the surroundings were a nice complement to a calm day.

MtBakerLummiView

The cloud cover for the day provided a protective skirt around the base of Mount Baker in the distance.

MtBakerLummiFerryDockzoom

We got on the ferry for the quick trip back to the mainland. Along the drive back on the Lummi Peninsula, we saw dozens of eagles perched in the trees overhead- looking out into the tidal flats that are found at the mouth of the mighty Nooksack River. We made it back into town and had to get back down to the waters edge to soak in the sunset over the island we had just spent a glorious day playing around on.

BellinghamSunsetTE

 See you OUT THERE!

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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.

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