Lummi Island is a hidden gem of the Northwest. This small, 9.25-square-mile island sees much less tourist traffic than the nearby San Juan Islands.
The island is home to the Lummi Nation, the original inhabitants of Northwest Washington. Visiting can feel a little bit like stepping into another world. There isn’t a lot of development on the island and the residents prefer it that way. There’s only one road and life seems to move just a little bit slower than on the mainland.
While there aren’t many tourist attractions on Lummi, it makes for a perfect day trip from nearby Bellingham. I’ll highlight six of my favorite things to do on Lummi Island.
Take in the Views from Lummi Mountain
One of the best ways to enjoy Lummi Island is to hike to the top of Lummi Mountain, the 1,050-foot high summit at the island’s center. An overlook offers outstanding 360-degree views of Mt. Baker to the east and the San Juan Islands to the west. You can also look down at Bellingham across the bay and north to the skyline of Vancouver.
The hike is strenuous since you start nearly at sea level. It’s 3.2 miles roundtrip and will take most people around two hours.
If you’re looking for additional short hikes, check out the Aiston Preserve and Otto Preserve. These areas are protected by the Lummi Island Heritage Trust and showcase the island’s natural beauty.
Read a Book on the Beach
Lummi Island isn’t exactly a beach getaway—the coastline is mostly rocky, and very little of it is public or accessible by road. However, there are a few public beaches that are perfect for laying on the sand in the sun.
The most secluded is Church Beach, located on the west side of the island just behind the Lummi Island Congregational Church. If you visit, be sure to wander around the neat stone labyrinth on the church grounds (it’s open to the public).
Another beach option is the Lummi Island Beach Access, located right across the street from the Beach Store Cafe. You can watch the ferry traverse the bay or just watch the goings-on in town. Everyone on Lummi knows each other, and it can be pretty neat to see how tight-knit the community is.
The final option is Sunset Beach—but I recommend saving that beach for sunset!
Get Lunch at the Beach Store Cafe
Once you get hungry, head back towards the ferry terminal to visit the Beach Store Cafe. This is the only restaurant on Lummi Island and it serves up pizza, sandwiches, and seafood.
The cafe is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so if you head to Lummi on one of those days be sure to pack your own lunch. There is a general store that’s open seven days a week, but the food selection is pretty small.
Kayak around the Island
If you own a kayak, kayaking around Lummi is one of the best ways to see the island. You can explore the coastline of the southern half of the island, which is largely uninhabited and doesn’t have any roads.
Inati Bay is a neat cove to paddle into and explore. Just south of that is the Lummi Island Campground, a sheltered beach that’s only accessible by boat.
Bellingham-based Moondance Kayak also offers guided paddling tours around Lummi. The full tour takes around five hours.
Visit Nettles Farm
Nettles Farm is a unique little farm that you won’t want to miss when visiting Lummi. This small farm grows berries, grapes, currants, tomatoes, and eggs. For many years, it supplied Lummi’s famous Willows Inn restaurant (now closed) and Nettles Farm produce can still be found at the Lummi and Bellingham Farmers’ Markets.
Nettles Farm hosts a couple workshops each summer that are worth a trip to Lummi on their own. In the past, the owners have shown guests how to butcher a chicken, how to forage berries, and how to catch crabs off the coast. This summer, the farm is hosting a multi-day retreat that ends with a crab boil.
Catch the Sunset at Sunset Beach
Before you catch a ferry back to the mainland, head over to Sunset Beach on the west side of Lummi. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset over the Salish Sea.
Be careful heading back to the ferry terminal, especially if you biked your way around the island. Lummi doesn’t have many lights, so it can get very dark faster than you might expect. The last ferry to the mainland runs between 12:10 am and 12:30 am depending on the day of the week.
Getting to Lummi Island
You can reach Lummi Island by ferry from Gooseberry Point, about 25 minutes from downtown Bellingham. The ferry ride takes less than five minutes. It runs every 20 minutes on weekdays and every hour on weekends.
While you can bring a car onto the ferry, the best way to see Lummi is by bike. There aren’t many cars on the island and you’ll see far more people walking or biking than driving.
Staying Overnight on Lummi Island
If you want to extend your stay on Lummi beyond a day, there are only a few places that offer overnight lodging.
One option is Nettles Farm, which doubles as a bed & breakfast. It offers access to a full farmhouse kitchen, plus the extensive cooking knowledge of the farm’s owner, Riley Starks.
Other options, including a beautiful loft at Full Bloom Farm, are available on Airbnb.
Note that the Willows Inn, which used to be a popular lodging and dining spot on the island, permanently closed its doors in 2022.