| 09/07/2023 | Updated | Family Fun, Water Adventures, Water Transport |   

Unplug as a Family on Lummi Island

Lummi Island is a perfect getaway for families looking to unplug and enjoy time in nature.

This easy day trip from Bellingham is just 25 minutes to the Lummi Island ferry terminal at Gooseberry Point. From there, the ride across the channel aboard the Whatcom Chief takes less than 10 minutes. Of course, be prepared to wait in line for the ferry; wait times will vary depending on the day and time you’re crossing. Get the ferry schedule here.

The Whatcom Chief is an adventure in itself! The tiny ferry can hold up to 20 vehicles (far less if a truck hauling a trailer or large work truck is crossing) and up to 100 walk-on passengers. If you’re used to traveling on the massive Washington State Ferries, this will be a very different experience!

Riding in the front row of the Whatcom Chief feels like you could launch off into the briney deep at any moment. All the more fun to start our adventure!

Once you land on the island, you can start your adventure with a driving tour – which doesn’t take too long. The southernmost section of the island can’t be accessed by roads, and there are just two main loops to drive, to get a sense of the place and take in the scenery. There are no gas stations on the island, so be sure you have plenty of fuel before you leave the mainland.

Parents, be prepared to manage expectations (as parents often do) when taking kids to the island. There is no McDonalds, no fast food, no mini golf, no toy stores. 

So long story short, let kids know up front this is going to be a day spent in nature.

Having said that, if you visit on a weekend you'll likely find a community activity or two to keep the family occupied, such as the summer farmers market on Saturdays, located just up from the ferry terminal. It’s located on a cheery green next to the Islander, Lummi’s only grocery store. (The store is also a great place for Lummi Island shirts and hoodies.)

You may want to choose a picnic lunch for your visit to Lummi Island, or at least plan ahead to know if the island restaurant, the Beach Cafe, is open. It's a great place to eat on a sunny day, as the shady front porch or the sunny back patio are a sure bet for dining al fresco, or there’s always the cafe’s cozy inside seating.

Most of the island is private land, which means no public access along much of the shoreline. But fear not, you can still find places to scout around and enjoy the scenery. The island has three public access points for the beach.

  • Lummi Island Beach Access – Across the street from the Beach Store Cafe, this small lookout area has a view of the ferry crossing and a picnic table. When the tide is low, visitors can walk down the stairs to explore the rocky beach.

  • Sunset Beach – On the west side of the island, this spot is true to its name – a great place to catch the sunset – as well as a great place to beach-comb for rocks and shells. Parking is available across from what was formerly the Willows Inn. The path leading to the beach is marked with a sign, but getting there requires a short walk along the road from the parking area - please be careful!

  • Church Beach – The Lummi Island Congregational Church owns a stretch of beachfront property located behind the church. Park in the lot and follow the path, and be sure to check out the nearby stone labyrinth as well.

Open starting July 15, 2023, the Aiston Preserve on Lummi Island offers another incredible destination for the public to enjoy trails, a beach, and epic views of Mt. Baker. 

Located on the southeast flank of Lummi Mountain, the Aiston Preserve boasts 105 acres of protected land as well as a former gravel quarry that remains closed to the public.

One area of the preserve, the Reflection Woods, is open as of June 15, 2023. To access the woods, descend the Inati Trail, a steep 1.5-mile out-and-back trail, or follow its northern spur, Deer Fern Way, a 1.2-mile point-to-point hike. 

Discover more family fun!
        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990
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